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First Look: Samsung Helix

I'm pretty sure that mine is the first hands-on review of the Samsung Helix, a combination MP3 player and portable XM Radio receiver. The thing's not on sale until the end of May, but Samsung made an early production unit available for testing.

Look at the full review, but the short version is that it doesn't suck at all. The ability to record and time-shift XM content is pretty cool. But There are two major flaws:

  • First, the thing is tied to Napster and is DRMed up the wazoo. Except for the stuff you rip yourself, you're renting the music for as long as you subscribe to Napster or XM.
  • Second, XM reception remains kind of dicey. Granted that Brooklyn doesn't give the non-stop view of the south sky that XM really wants, but I don't think a lot of places (like office buildings) do. XM, when all is said and done, is radio -- and radio reception does tend to drop out.
  • Oh. There's a third thing. The Helix is Mac-unfriendly. You can't even authorize an XM radio on a Mac, and Napster is tied to WMAs. Macs need not apply.

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