Favorite/Best Sports MP3 Player?

I may have recently trashed my Rio S35S when it fell into the backyard pond while I was working on it. If I can’t resuccitate it (“if” he says), I’ll need a new MP3 player. Mostly I use it to listen to audiobooks while doing house chores and yard work. I was looking at the Rio Forge (been a Rio guy since the start), but the negative reviews are turning me off… also was considering the Rio S10, which is a bit out of date. Apart from being somewhat hardy, I’d like one that I can plop my own batteries into, uses SD cards, and has the bookmark function (or the ability to pick up exactly where in the audio file the mp3 player was when it was turned off… actually preferable). So I was wondering… what are some good ones out there? And what is your favorite flash-base mp3 player?

I was using the 35S for a long time too and was quite happy with it despite pretty limited memory. I do a lot of marathon training, and my 3 hour practice runs were ugly when I had to listen to the same songs three times!

I got a free Ipod Nano a few months ago and it has changed my exercise life. It’s been fantastic. Durable, user friendly. Can’t say enough.

I’ve been using a Rio Cali 256 for about a year now, and I do like it. It uses a single AAA, accepts an SD/MMC card (up to 1 gig), has quite good sound quality, is pretty compact and very durable. Battery life is about 15 to 20 hours on a single battery, but WAY longer if you use lithium batteries. The interface is very simple, and it will pick up where you left off. So, that’s the good.

Since you’ve been using a Rio, you know the bad already. The software to load the Rio isn’t great. It isn’t terrible, but I’d prefer to just drag and drop the files instead of using their klugy interface. You can only create and maintain playlists through their software. Also, since I put in a memory card, it’s bad at estimating the free space available on the player. It will tell me that I have 5 free megs, but it won’t let me add any more songs (even small 2 or 3 meg songs) because it will say that the memory is full.

The ugly: Well, it’s gotten a little flaky with the power management. It will turn off because it’s out of batteries, but then if I take out the battery for about 5 seconds to reset it, it will go ahead and keep playing for another 30 to 40 minutes. Also, I have had it freeze on me a couple of times, but pulling out the battery to reset it has worked every time.

Overall though, it was very inexpensive (about $120 when I bought it new, and it’s way out of date now, I’m sure), tough as nails, and has worked well for me.

Oh, I forgot the most important part. It has a radio tuner and a stopwatch. I haven’t been taking my walks around the track in ages, so I haven’t used the stopwatch in a while, but it certainly can be handy.

Doesn’t the Nano use a hard drive? The way I abuse my mp3 players, I think there’d be a lot of skippin’ goin’ on.

I’m thinking that one thing I should look for is one that it’s not as easy to skip a track just by bumping into something. I constantly wear my mp3 player on the back of my belt as I’m doing housework, chores, and home improvement, and on a regular basis I tend to bump into things and it skips ahead.

I like the idea of getting another Rio sport, but all the reviews I read on Amazon and the like tend to be iffy… one person says they’re completely satisfied, then three say they’ve had power problems, etc., and that it’s a piece of crap.

I don’t mind the interface so much… it’s a little slow and clunky, I agree. The thing that does bug me about it is how, when a memory card is in it, it will try to fill up the internal memory, even if it means taking a small file from the end of the book (i.e. the last chapter) and putting it right after chapter two, before moving on to fill up the external memory card.

Do any come with an FM transmitter? When I’m not working with it, I’m driving with it, and the fake cassette tape connected to the headphone jack is wearing thin…

I’m happy with my Rio Forge. And it also has an FM receiver.

No, the Nano uses flash memory.