Ten... sub-£50 budget MP3 players
Creative Zen Style 300
While the Style 300 has much room for improvement, it’s a fairly nifty MP3 player for £40. Positively inundated with features, the menu is reasonably quick to grasp and the sound is impressive. Combined with one of the best voice recorders I’ve tried and a slick case, my initial impression was hugely positive, but the Style 300 is let down by what seems like buggy software.
Three times now I’ve had to reset the device after it froze - a common problem, according to web forums. Video support is limited to a proprietary format that can only be encoded through the bundled PC software. However, even though the headphones are weak and the speaker has a tinny phone-sound to it, the huge array of features and superb battery life balance things out. If it wasn’t for the freezes, the Style 300 would have scored much better.
Reg Rating 65%
Price £40 (4GB) £60 (8GB) £80 (16GB)
Format Support MP3, WMA, Wav, Audible
More Info Creative
Philips Go Gear
This clip-on, thumb-sized MP3 player offers fairly basic controls to skip tracks - or music folders - shuffle, repeat and to alter volume. There's an FM radio too, but the storage and format support are limited.
The stainless steel shell has slick written all over it and is available in a variety of colours too. However, the buttons can be fiddly and, apart from a coloured LED behind the play button, there is little communication between user and device. Out on a jog, none of these issues matter, but loud background noise could be a problem, and the cheap headphones supplied with it don't help matters.
Philips has incorporated its FullSound technology, a post-processing algorithm designed to restore losses in dynamics and frequency range that are inherent in compressed audio. Indeed, the sound reproduction seemed quite smooth, but it wasn’t spectacular and could benefit from a higher output volume. Alas, the radio reception wasn’t great, as it struggled to get a perfect signal even on the sixth floor of our central London office building. Still, for simplicity and a long battery life of approximately 12 hours, the Philips GoGear Clip is a fairly decent iPod Shuffle alternative, and a rugged player that is unlikely to see damage easily.
Reg Rating 70%
Price £25 (2GB) £45 (4GB)
Format Support WMA, MP3
More Info Philips