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Review: Samsung Highnote

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Music Camera Photos/Video Browse/Customize Extras  

My on-going complaint with all Sprint music-enabled phones is the grafting the music store to the player. In other words, when you boot the player, you are also booting the music store, and you get tabs for each on the music player page.

I'm not sure if loading the store is the problem, but when you press the side music key, you are alerted that Java is booting. Why you need to know this I don't know. You are then informed to please wait. And wait. And wait. It takes 40-50 seconds for the player to boot up, either because it's also booting up the store app or loading up your songs. The more songs you've got, the longer it takes. But even with a minimal number of tracks, expect to wait at least 15-20 seconds before you can do anything.

Then, instead of getting your track list, you get an interstitial page with two tabs, one to get access to Sprint's music store and for the actual music player. Under the music player tab is the last song played, All My Music and a Create Playlist choices.

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Once you select All My Music, you'll wait another 7-10 seconds, depending on how many tracks you have, for all your music to be loaded. I side loaded around 6 GB of music from Windows Media Player to an 8 GB microSD card, and waited nearly a minute before I could actually start listening to music.

Oddly, you cannot put your collection into shuffle play mode until after a track has started playing, not before as a preset, although once set, the phone stays in shuffle mode until you change it again. Instead of just hitting "Play" and getting a song at random, you'll have to choose one to get the shuffle play rolling, or continue from the Last Played track.

Your song list is not presented in alphabetical order, and I could not figure out how to put them into alphabetical order by track name, if it's even possible. When you get to All My Music, you have tabs that list your tracks by Artist, Genre and Album, but not alphabetical by track name. To switch between each of these tabs takes 7-10 seconds each time, and you have to wait for each list to fill before you can move to the next tab listing.

Highnote is compatible with MP3, AAC and AAC+. Getting your iPod tracks onto the Highnote, as with all MP3/AAC devices, is a challenge, since Windows Media Player doesn't recognize AAC and iTunes doesn't recognize non-Apple devices. You'll need an SD card reader an drag-and-drop AAC tracks onto the Highnote.

Once music starts playing, the Highnote begins to behave more like an MP3 player. While there are no direct music control keys, the navigation array works fine for pause/play and skip. But you'd think with the plethora of competing music phones, Samsung and/or Sprint would have figured out how to build a faster player into a phone being hawked as music-centric.


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