By Frank Ling
Whether you’re at the gym, taking a nice walk or just relaxing, listening to your favorite tunes during these times is something that almost everyone likes to do. Today’s MP3 players have come a long way since the introduction of Apple’s iPod in 2001--MP3 players now come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and price ranges.
If you’re in the market for a good MP3 player, we’ll help you try to choose a MP3 player that’s just right for you.
Lots of options
MP3 players have evolved to a state where you can watch videos on them, use them as pedometers, play games, and even surf the Internet. The features for MP3 players range from simple devices that just play music to full-blown miniature multimedia units.
More features are not necessarily better. If your primary goal is to have a simple but reliable MP3 player, these models range in price from $30 to around $60. Basic features should include a display screen and a minimum of 2GB of storage or more.
For MP3 players that have more advanced features such as video playback, and other options, higher end units will cost about $150 and up.
For the simple stuff
If all you want is a good basic MP3 player, the good news is that there is a plentiful selection of them from many manufacturers. Off brands can cost as little as $20 but if you are leery about no-name brands, there are several trusted companies you can buy from.
Our top picks for good affordable MP3 players are:
SanDisk Sansa Clip
These little wonders are no bigger than a couple of postage stamps, but they offer excellent sound quality and a simple interface that can build play lists, adjust EQ, repeat songs or play at random, plus more.
The readout display is bright and the size is great for portability. The Sansa Clip comes in a variety of colors and is configured in 2GB, 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB storage models. Prices range from $30 to $57 at discount online stores such as Amazon.com.
This MP3 player is also small and packs a lot of features into a tiny package. The Apple Shuffle is configured for 2GB of storage, which translates to about 500 songs.
It lacks a display screen but offers a “voice over” feature that announces the name of the song and artist with just a click of the button. Standard features such as assembling play lists, random programming, and up to 15 hours of music play are included.
The retail price for an Apple Shuttle is $49.
Top picks for advanced MP3 players:
Apple iPod Touch 8GB
Think of this MP3 player as an iPhone without wireless connectivity because from outward appearances, it looks very similar to an iPhone. The iTouch plays MP3s, plays videos, plays video games, has access to iTunes’ extraordinary selection of downloadable apps, and is basically a multimedia station in the palm of your hand. The iTouch can also tie into a Wi-Fi signal to surf the Web.
The 8GB iPod iTouch comes in black or white and retails for $199. Lower pricing can be found on online shops.
Sony Walkman NWZ-E354 8GB Digital Music Player
If your budget is a consideration for an MP3 player that can also play videos, the Sony Walkman NWZ-E354 8GB Digital Music Player may be your pick. It offers a long-lasting 50 hours of audio play or 10 hours of video on a single charge, and a bright 2-inch video display, and easy navigation. Reviews of this product are very high and many owners suggest that this is a better value than the Apple iPod series.
The price for this unit is around $100.
Don’t forget good earphones
No matter how excellent the MP3 player, a pair of substandard earphones can degrade the quality of sound so badly that you’ll never be able to enjoy listening to music on it. Make sure to find a good set of earphones that will make your MP3 player’s music sparkle.
Frank Ling is the SF Gadgets Examiner. He is a writer, professional photographer, and video editor. One of his all-time favorite jobs was working at a large video game publisher testing games.