By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Just as personal audio cassettes and CD players once became known as Walkmans, today's MP3 players are commonly referred to as iPods. But with so many music lovers now plugging in through their smartphones, the MP3 player - Apple variety or not - risks becoming obsolete. Don't give up on them just yet, though. MP3 players have certain advantages that smartphones lack: they're light enough and small enough to keep you humming all through your exercise routine.It's easy to enjoy the portability of mp3 players.
Cheapism identified four MP3 players with price tags under $60.
- The SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip is available with either 4GB (starting at $35) or 8GB (starting at $53) of memory. The ability to boost capacity by up to 32GB with a microSDHC card makes this player extremely appealing. The Sansa Clip Zip supports multiple audio file types, including MP3, WMA, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and Audiobooks. It also sports an FM radio, a voice recorder, and a 1.1-inch color screen and weighs a mere 15.9 grams. The built-in lithium-ion battery lasts for up to 15 hours of continuous playback.
- With the Sony W Series Walkman, Sony built the MP3 player directly into a pair of headphones. This Walkman can read MP3, WMA, AAC-LC, and L-PMC files and is available with 2GB (starting at $58) or 4GB (starting at $80) of storage. It's a workout buddy that's water-resistant, weighs 32 grams, and boasts an eight-hour battery. A short three-minute charge provides 60 minutes of playback, perfect if you're in a time crunch. Online reviewers say the sound, in particular the base, is surprisingly good.
- Apple's newest iPod shuffle (starting at $45) is tiny, light (12.5 grams), and easily clips to clothing or an arm band. This 2GB player lacks a screen but its scroll wheel is user-friendly. With the push of a button the new "voice over" feature tells you song titles and artists, the name of the current playlist, and the remaining battery life. The shuffle plays MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF, and Audible files for up to 15 hours before needing a charge.
- The Philips GoGear Vibe is available with a 1.5-inch screen and 4GB (starting at $43) or a 1.8-inch screen and 8GB (starting at $50). Apple's iPod shuffle is a sound budget buy.The player weighs 34 grams and supports MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAV, and APE audio files as well as photos, videos (SMV files), and FM radio. It also lets you create voice recordings and access material from Audible.com. Reviewers enjoy the Vibe's color screen for viewing videos and photos but note that the navigation pad is somewhat confusing. The sound quality and a 25-hour battery life for music playback garner much praise.
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The number of tracks an MP3 player holds depends on the file type, as well as the amount of memory. (Check out this CNET guide if you're in doubt about any MP3 acronyms.) Some file types also drain the battery faster than others. The numbers specified above for battery life are relevant for continuous playback of MP3 or AAC files at 128-256 Kbps.
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