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Ten... sub-£50 budget MP3 players

Sound choices

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Sony Walkman NWZ-B152F

RH Numbers

Other than a long battery life and the benefit of being a non-cable USB key, the Sony B series is disappointing, mainly due to its low output volume. The sound is smooth and rounded, but venture to a place with any background noise and you may as well forget it.

The jog-wheel used to change tracks can be fiddly, especially one-handed and, unless you've switched Hold on, its buttons are too easily nudged. Consequently, tracks are accidentally paused or the annoying Zap function comes into force – a somewhat pointless feature that plays a few seconds of each track before randomly moving on.

The voice recorder and FM radio are nice inclusions, but neither compensates for the volume problem. With format support for just MP3 and WMA, the B series Walkman comes with mediocre headphones and appears poor value for money. You’d expect more from Sony, really.

Sony NWZ-B152F

Sony logoReg Rating 55%
Price £20 (2GB) £40 (4GB)
Format Support WMA, MP3
More Info Sony

X-Mini Happy

RH Numbers

The X-Mini Happy is the ultimate accessory for sodcasting chavs that now infest the nation's buses and painfully show off the noise they believe qualifies as music. It’s wicked, innit!

RH Recommended Medal

The single tweeter on top, supported by a powerful sub-woofer inside, delivers crisp audio at high volumes. Sure, its spherical shape isn’t as pocket-snug as most MP3 players, but the X-mini is comfortable enough to carry and the sound is incredible, albeit slightly distorted at maximum output. There are other downsides: as there’s no display, the volume resets itself each time it’s powered up, and you can’t fast forward through any tracks. Limited format support is also a drag - MP3 or WMA only - and the battery life is a mere five hours.

Despite this, the X-Mini MP3 is an excellent piece of kit, and comes with a removable 2GB SD card along with some of the best supplied headphones I’ve seen. Each device can be linked to other X-Minis to create a chain of speakers and intensify the volume even more. The streetz may have already waved goodbye to days of boomboxed shoulder pads, but a new era is here: X-mini necklaces.

X-Mini Happy Speaker

X-Mini HappyReg Rating 85%
Price £40 (2GB)
Format Support WMA, MP3
More Info Advanced MP3 Players

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