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Sony has bundled its popular streamlined Walkman MP3 player design with noise cancelling headphones and a 13.5 headphone driver unit to create a high sound quality portable MP3 player.
This player, the NW-S705, comes in a color choice of black, black or black! However, it does have a stylish streamlined look.
It features 2GB of built-in memory, a built-in FM tuner, a rapid charge which gives you three hours of playback time with three minutes of charging, and Sony's Clear Bass and Clear Stereo sound technologies.
It has a Li-ion battery similar to that found in cell phones, for up to 50 hours battery life.
It also plays WMA, AAC, Sony's ATRAC format and MP3 audio tracks.
Although Microsoft's answer to the iPod has 30GB of internal memory, a built-in WiFi chipset for Zune-to-Zune file sharing, and superior audio capabilities, it has been met with lukewarm market acceptance to date.
Why is this? Users say that its proprietary USB interface is difficult to use, it is not backwards compatible with WMA-DRM9 formatting, you can't use the WiFi interface to synch, stream, or purchase content and it cannot play protected video content. The most known issue is that Zune sharing is limited to three plays of a song within three days - something most users didn't think was worth the effort.
Other than these issues, it does have a nicely designed package, its own music store and intuitive and easy-to-use GUI, and a rugged case.
Integration with Windows Media Player 11 and MTV's Urge, as well as a whole host of top end features makes the 2 or 4 GB iRiver Clix one of the top reviewed iPod alternatives on the market today.
It is a compact, squarish-shaped player with a clean look, and intuitive navigation on the sides of the player itself. It handles both MP3 and WMA music formats, and has an optional cradle pack and accessories kit available for purchase separately. The price tag of roughly $200 for the 4GB version and roughly $170 for the 2GB version is easy on the pocketbook.
Videos, pictures, and music are all supported, and the menus are easy to navigate and full-featured.
It also offers a built-in FM tuner with 20 presets, an alarm clock, a calender and support for flash games.
Another great MP3 player is the Rio Carbon. This wedge-shaped device features a voice recorder which is missing from the iPod, 5G of memory, a 1.25" backlit display and 20 hours of battery life.
It supports playlists and plays MP3, WMA, and Audible files. It can also serve as a portable hard drive for your laptop computer.
Rated 8 out of 10 by the CNET editors, it also has a rubberized edge that serves as a shock absorber for sports types who are tough on electronics devices.
Navigation is through a 4-way pad with a raised select button in the middle. It ships with small earbuds, but these are easily swapped out if you prefer larger ones.
It runs for roughly $250.
If you are looking for a bare bones MP3 player, or one for a beginner or a kid, this $20 player might just be the ticket. It is the lowest end version of the Coby MP3 player line.
It has no display, the headphones are marginal, and the sound quality is just OK. But it has a convenient USB-based interface, uses just one AAA battery and plays both MP3 files and non-DRM WMA files.
It has no shuffle feature, and plays your entire 128MB library linearly while you listen.
It is easy to use, with intuitive volume and playback buttons. It is also really small and compact.
This player would make a great giveway or promotional item due to its low cost.
Rated 8 out of 10 by the editors of CNET and a 7.1 out of 10 by users, the Sandisk Sansa E270 features a built-in FM tuner and recorder, a voice recorder, 6GB of memory and a price tag of roughly $220, which is less than the 4GB iPod Nano.
It is compact flash-based, but does have a slot for a Micro SD card which can expand the capacity by up to 2G. It uses a click-wheel controller system, similar to the iPod. It also supports photos, WMA and MP3 format music, along with videos.
The downside of this more affordable player is that it doesn't ship with an adapter, and sometimes systems noise is audible through its speakers.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|