IPOD vs. other mp3 players.... what should I get for Christmas?

IPODS are expensive… that’s no lie. I would really like a mid-grade mp3 player around 200$ however, I have a feeling that with the popularity of IPOD, people are really paying for the brand name when they can get a comparable MP3 player for cheaper. I am not looking for the new version with video (INANO?) but just a mid grade MP3 player.

What have you found to be worth purchasing instead of an IPOD? Price? Gigs? Advice?

I personally like the Dell DJ. I got it for a couple hundred bucks and it holds 30 gigs. I’ve never liked the Ipod. I can’t stand the look of it either. Everytime I hold one, I feel like I’m going to break the damn thing. The Dell Dj is thicker than an Ipod, but it seems sturdier, and I for one drop things all the time.

A little more expensive than I originally stated. But you can get a 20 gig one for about $250.

I have a Zen Nomad Xtra Jukebox. I paid $207 for it back in March, It’s got a 30Gb harddrive and is pretty easy to use. Transferring songs is a breeze with the included software - just drag and drop.

It’s been worth every penny.

I just bought a mp3 player, considered a bunch of them before I ended up buying a cowon xl5. This is a great player, but probably more expensive than what you’re looking for. The Zen nomad that Mr Blue Sky mentions seems to be the best value player on the market, I know a few people who are really happy with them and they are very reasonably priced. I was going to get one myself until I decided to spend an extra hundred quid so I could have a colour screen that plays video, something I will never, ever use. :smack:

I got the 5 gig Zen Micro a little over a month ago, and I really love it. It’s not as fancy as an Ipod… (I didn’t really want to jump on the manic itunes bandwagon either,) but it’s really portable, pretty cheap, has room for oodles and oodles of music, and it’s napster-compatible, so I’m thinking of getting the subscription service and ‘renting out’ tons of music from there for a flat monthly fee, instead of buying a fee per song.

Hope that helps.

I bought **Rhiannon8404 **an mp3 player for Christmas last year. I did quite a bit of research before making the purchase. I found out far more then I ever thought I needed to know about portable audio players. In the end I purchased a Rio Forge 512 MB .

Here’s why…

Flash memory instead of hard drive:

Hard drive based players have considerably more storage space than flash based players. They hold anywhere from 5 GB to 60 GB, maybe more now. Flash players are typically in the <1 GB range, although the iPod nano will hold up to 4 GB.

The downside to hard drive players is that they contain moving parts with very small tolerances for error. Give it a good jolt, and your music can skip; drop one on the floor, and you might trash the drive. Flash players have no moving parts; as long as you don’t crack the case, they’re pretty much indestructible.

My wife spends a lot of time working with horses, where her player would tend to get bumped around a lot, and where there is quite a bit of dust and dirt to foul up a hard drive. A flash based player is ideal for her because she doesn’t need to worry too much about damaging it.

Replaceable batteries:

Most mp3 players have a rechargeable internal (non-removable) battery. They should last several years, but when the battery dies, so does the player. Apple will replace your iPod battery for about $60, I believe.

There are a few players with replaceable batteries, like you have in a cell phone. That way you can buy an extra battery, swap them out when they run down, and always have a full battery ready.

TheForge runs on a single AAA battery (possible only because it is a flash-based player; a hard drive would suck up too much juice). It runs for 6-8 hours on a single battery. The downside is that you need to keep buying more batteries; if you are going to use your player all day long every day, it could get expensive. But for **Rhiannon **that isn’t an issue, because she doesn’t use it *that *frequently. She went on a two week trip to Italy last year, and took the player and a handful of AAA batteries with her to run it. This way she didn’t have to worry about taking a power adapter, finding a place to recharge the player, etc. When the battery ran down, she just popped another one in and moved on.

SD Memory expansion:

The Forge was one of the few players I found that has an SD memory slot. Although the player only comes with 512 MB internal memory, I bought a 1 GB SD card to go along with it. With additional cards, you can have virtually unlimited storage. Of course, it winds up being more expensive than buying a 40 GB player, but you don’t sacrifice the other advantages mentioned above.

A few questions you should ask yourself before you buy:

How much music do I want to carry with me?

A 512 MB player will hold 8-16 hours of music. A 40 GB player will hold enough for you to listen for a month without repeating a song. How much storage do you need? Do you want to carry your entire music collection with you, or do you just want to have enough to listen to for a few hours while you do whatever you do? Do you have a few albums (10-15) that you listen to all the time, or do you want to listen to something new every day? If the latter, do you mind spending the time to “reload” your player with new music from time to time?

What will I be doing while I am using my player?

If you will sit it on your desk at work or school all day, where it will not be subject to excess vibration or rough treatment, then a hard drive based player might be the best for you. If you plan to use it while working out or doing manual labor, then go for a flash based player (flash players are also smaller and lighter, which helps when you are wearing them).

What kind of music do I listen to (file formats)?

If your music is all in mp3 or Windows Media format, you can choose almost any player and be assured of compatability. If you are an Audible subscriber, or have a bunch of OGG files, then your choices are a bit more limited. If all of your music is currently on CD, then it doesn’t matter, because you can rip them to whichever format you need.

What “advanced” features do I want?

Other things that mp3 players can do, depending on which model you get:

FM radio receiver
data file storage and transfer
photo storage and viewing
probably a bunch of other stuff I can’t think of right now

If you just want to listen to music, then again, you can choose any player. If some of these other features interest you, then you need to pick and choose from those models which suit your needs.

http://www.mp3.com/ has a great deal of information on mp3 players: reviews, compataility with different formats, etc.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and need. There are quite a few very good players on the market, and there are no compelling reasons to choose one particular model or brand over all of the others. A player that is perfect for me might be the worst choice for you. Do your research, and pick the one that suits you best, and don’t be overly influenced by what is “popular”. The iPods get the most press, but that is mainly because they have the best marketing. They are not necessarily better than everything else. They are not necessarily worse either; if they weren’t quality players they would not still be selling the way they are.

Good luck, and happy listening!

I love my iRiver, and liked it even more than my brother’s iPod. I have the H320 - 20 gig storage, full color, can do photos, voice recording, has an FM tuner, has excellent equalizer options, excellent sound quality, and was far less than the equivalent iPod. Also has decent battery life - about 8 hours on normal volume and not a lot of button pushing.

I do kinda wish it had iPod’s neat scrolly thingy, but I actually do like the Windows style navigation of my iRiver.

Another vote for the iRiver, if you want an mp3 player instead of a fashion accessory.

I have this too, but the 60Gb version, and I’m quite happy with it. One thing it can do that the iPod can’t is play audiobooks in protected WMA format that I download for free (legally) from netlibrary.com.

60 Gb is probably overkill, I think there’s a 40Gb model that I probably would have been just as happy with.

Be aware that it is physically considerably bigger than the iPod, though. If being very small is very important, this is probably not the device for you.

I bought a 6 gb Zen Neeon for my Christmas present. My wife won’t let me have it yet though. At least I have time to get my mp3’s in order.

I’l third this. I have the 30gb, and its a wonderful player. Its become a personal challenge just to fill the entire thing! It is a little large, compared with other players, but all the controls are on the side, which makes selecting music easier. You can make a playlist, then adjust the volume, skip a song, pause, exc. while keeping the player in your pocket.

I paid about the same amount for mine in June, and after dropping it on concrete (thrice :smack: ) it runs just as well as it did new!

Are the Creative brand players capable of playing music from iTunes?

I have a Zen Micro Photo with 8 gigs. You probably don’t need the photo part - and the Zen Micro alone is I believe somewhere around $150 for 5 gigs. I got it for the Napster to Go compatability - which is well well *well * worth it. Did I mention it’s well worth it? I’m spending $15 a month and listening to more music - and exploring more music, than I ever have in my life.

Still - caveat emptor - the desktop software is horrible. In my hand the player works great, but on my computer it’s like the Exorcist. I won’t be surprised if one day I end up covered in projectile vomit spewed from my cpu as I try to configure my Zen. There are layers of bugs to plow through to get the thing to work properly.It took two reinstalls, tweaking the system profile and four reboots to get the computer to recognize it. And that was just the warm-up. After a month I’ve solved or worked around most of the bugs, but the registration screen still pops up at me in an infinite loop no matter what I do. I have it eternally minimized. Luckily you can ignore much of the software in the end and just use Windows Media Player. In fact you really must.

Not directly, AFIAK only the iPod can run play iTunes music without some rigamarole like burning it to a CD and ripping to MP3.

There’s a program out there that converts the iTunes songs into unrestricted MP3s without the need to burn them first, which is what I use to listen to the songs I bought from iTunes on my Creative Zen Xtra. That’s possibly a bit of legal grey area though, because of that legislation that makes defeating DRM technically against the law (but I feel is perfectly moral because it can only convert files that you paid for and hence should fall under fair use). The board would likely frown upon me mentioning and linking to the prog here, so if you want more info email me at revtim at gmail dot com with an appropriate subject line.

Also, Revtim, where on that netlibrary site did you find audio books? I can only find ebooks.

After you login, there’s a link under “Subject Centers & Databases” named “Audiobooks”.

Here’s the URL of the link, I suppose it’ll work if you are logged in:

The link doesn’t work. And where does it say “Subject Centers & Databases?” Thanks so much!

Do you have a netlibrary account, and are able to log in?