Some sound advice…
MP3 players remain a firm place in our pockets this year. Our top choices will make it easier for you to decide which one is for you.
Music players are facing stiff competition from multifunction mobile phones. But, with better sound quality and easier operation, the dedicated MP3 player still justifies a firm place in our pockets. The iPod has dominated the market since its launch in 2001, but let us not overlook the competition.
Here are six for all budgets:
Sony Walkman NWZA818 8GB, £129
Weighing less than 57 grams and with a battery life of 30 hours of music, the Walkman is a powerful challenge to the iPod Nano.
Previous Sony Walkmans have been criticised for poor navigation and limited file support. But navigation is now less fiddly, plus it can play most audio formats. Although the lack of iTunes compatibility is irritating, the Walkman sounded vibrant and powerful.
Apple iPod Nano 8GB, £129
Although this Nano is wider, it incorporates an impressive 2 inch video playing screen which is encased in smart metal.
The famously easy navigation makes browsing through Apple’s class-leading iTunes software almost child’s play. The battery provides 24 hours of music or 4 hours of video with an improved audio.
Apple iPod Touch 16GB, £269
This top-end iPod will be loved by those who enjoy video and the web on the go.
Although the Touch’s exterior is effected by finger-marks, the generous 3.5 inch screen is scratch resistant and the touch screen controls are excellent. Sound quality is decent; however the Touch boasts 20 hours of music and 5 hours of movies.
Samsung YP-P2JAB, £110
The touch-screen operation and Bluetooth earphones are an impressive feature for those who find buttons and cables a nuisance.
Image quality is great on the large 3 inch screen, which switches to landscape for widescreen video display. Although at 85 grams, the YP-P2 felt heavier than other players, the smooth, powerful sound is its biggest strength. Battery life is 30 hours for audio and 4 hours for video.
Sandisk Sansa Clip 1GB, from £24.99
This match-box sized player has the advantage of a two colour screen and easy navigation.
For a budget player, the sound quality is excellent and delivers 15hr of music that matters. Despite weighing just over 280 grams, the player is pocketable – but the plastic casing is susceptible to scratches so it might be worthwhile investing in a cheap case.
Creative Zen Stone Plus 2GB, £50
Sold in a choice of six colours and boasting an FM radio, a stopwatch and a voice recorder this Creative Zen is surprisingly versatile.
Weighing in at just 18.5 grams it is the lightest of our choices, access to all the main features is easy plus the sound was crisp and lively. However, the battery lasted a mere 3 hours.