2008's top three MP3 players
For your consideration...
Kit of the Year Apple's iPod line remains the best-selling series of music players, and while the revamped, thinned down Touch appeals - thanks to its sheer good looks and versatility - it was a couple of other players the scored the best marks this year.
Sony Walkman S-series
The 8GB and 16GB Walkman S series may not support as many audio formats as some other MP3 players, but it's by far the best player we saw this year. It's small, light and easy to use. It lets you copy content direct from iTunes. But what really impressed us is that it comes bundled with a great pair of earphones and produces a truly excellent sound.
Read the full review
Reg Rating 90%
Price £100 (8GB) £130 (16GB) Find the best online price
SanDisk Sansa Fuze
We just like the idea of a small Flash-based MP3 player that sounds great and comes with the option to add a shedload of extra memory - using Micro SDHC cards - yet doesn't make us go poking about deep into the player's menu structure to find the content it holds. Add to that the Fuze's compact size, good price and decent sound quality, and you're on to a winner.
Read the full review
Reg Rating 90%
Price £65 (2GB) £75 (4GB) £100 (8GB) Find the best online price
Apple iPod Touch
Apple's second-gen iPod Touch isn't for anyone seeking a tiny, discreet music player - or anyone after a bargain, for that matter - but the Touch is the most versatile personal media player out there, taking music, movies, internet applications and even games in its stride. The screen's excellent and the Touch so thin you'd think that's all it is, screen. But there's a lot of technology packed into this player, and thanks to the online App Store, you can add more and more. A thing of beauty.
Read the full review
Reg Rating 85%
Price £169 (8GB) £219 (16GB) £289 (32GB) Find the best online price
Best of the Rest
Apple iPod Nano
90% Full review
SanDisk Sansa Clip
88% Full review
75% Full review
Having had the player for a few months I have nothing bad to say about it except a few glitches here and there which can be easily fixed through firmware update. When scrolling through the song list there is a noticable pause when album art is being loaded (not a big problem, pause may only be 200 ms). Another thing I noticed which was annoying more than anything else was once you connect the USB cable and have headphones plugged in at the same time unclipping the USB cable without removing headphones is very difficult unless u have long nails. There seems to be no support for x64 operating systems when running Sansa Updater (workaround = right click > run as WinXP).
Apart from these little things the player is very good and for the 50 quid I paid for my 8 gig player is much better than spending over a 100 for some of the competitors with same sized players. I already had a spare 8 SDHC card and it plugs in very easily and neatly and now I have 16 gigs of space to work with. FLACs work great and although pictures need to be resized before viewing on the player they all work fine in jpeg format. Sound quality as mentioned in the review is very good. Radio recording and voice recording works great and sound quality is as good as you hearing it live. I have no complaints about the functioning of the player.
My advice get some decent in-ear headphones (I got creative ones for a 10er) and enjoy what this player has to offer.
Online Shopping Hell
Whatever you do, don't buy one of these from memorymegastore.com - a week ago I followed a link from this very review and bought a Sandisk Sansa Fuze 4Gb from them. I paid my money, got the confirmation of shipping email and waited ... and waited. I emailed them today asking where the order was and they told me the item was discontinued and my order had been cancelled. I wonder how long it would have taken them to inform me if I hadn't complained? The chances of another one arriving in the post before Christmas are slim in the extreme ... sad face sums it up
It's About The Quality Of The Sound, Not The Looks Or Features!
Like Sam York was saying, At the end of the day, You buy a MP3 player to play back music..In my opinion, I would look for which has the best potential for the sound output, not how many features that are on it.
I have a Zen Vision M 60GB (Brilliant for video and can playback up to HD quality) and soon I will be getting a Sony NWZ-S639FB 16GB (£75 at dabs.com) because the reviews on the net say the sound is very good.
I have had an Apple video 30gb, I've had a nano as well, Nice style...But thats about it in my eyes...My Zen Vision M beats it for sound everytime...Also the Itunes use to Apple is very negative in my eyes as instead getting any other brand where you can use it pretty much with any program (MediaMonkey, Media Player, Etc)
People today seem to think that if its not made by Apple it's instantly crap compared to it (prepares for fanboy-ness to come in).
From a neutral view...Would you rather pay £127 to 150 for a 16gb ipod nano or would you rather pay £75 a 16gb Sony NWZ-S639FB...Half the price..Better sound quality which has been said in many reviews across the net...Most people would say no brainer.
4 Years ago I would agree that apple probably had the best lot out there for looks and sound quality..But times have changed, Companies such as Sony know that they cant charge top money for the name (remember their viao range?)..They lowered their price, more sales...Apple still charge a premium and in my opinion it no longer offers value for money.
Thanks for this 'index' article, and the comments above were interesting and varied to say the least. I'll have to take a listen to the Sansa, but personally the iPod Touch is the worst of the MP3 players I own. Heck, even the el cheapo Creative Zen has a more pleasing sound - I was really disappointed! (and I don't consider myself an audiophile by any means)
Maybe the Nano/Classic should have been substituted? Certainly my old 5th Gen "Classic" beats the newer Touch (1st Gen) for just about everything to do with playing sound (better quality reproduction, easier to use, etc)
Meanwhile, I'll be the first to admit that it's a superb movie player, and the web stuff is just about usable. Where I use mine most is as an eBook reader - it's (imho) peerless for that!
Re. Nano vs Touch
The scores presented are those given by the devices' original reviewer(s). When we selected the top three, this time round, we were guided by the scores but we thought about the products again. The consensus here was that the Touch is the better top-three contender of the two Apple players, not least because anyone considering the Nano would - we think - be better off looking at the Sony, whereas the Touch stands on its own.
That's not to say the Nano is a poor MP3 player. It's not, and that's why it's in the Best of the Rest category.
But that's for MP3 players - how will the Touch rate against the likes of Cowon and Archos when we look at the top three PMPs next week?