I think it’s about time to ditch my iPod habit.
Thus far, my staple MP3 player has been the iPod. The only time I strayed was a short stint with a Creative Zen Micro, that lasted all of a month or two before it broke, twice. I won’t lie – iPods have served me well, but I’m at a point where I realize that my music-listening priorities have changed.
I’m now looking for a NAND flash player that’s smaller and lighter than my previous hard-drive based iPods. I have a fairly large music collection, but to be honest, my regularly consumed diet of music is only 4-6GB in size (perhaps less). As well, I’ve gotten tired of the iPod defining the way I use it, instead of the other way around. In an effort to keep the thing in pristine condition, I have an ugly screen protector on it, never sit it down with its shiny back on a desk, and mostly keep it in a case that adds bulk. It’s just plain inconvenient to use – Apple sure as hell didn’t make it easy to keep the thing in half decent shape. Just about every part of the device can scratch easily.
So combining the fact that I don’t need to carry around every single song in my music collection and to find something that I can actually use without fear of aesthetic destruction, I’m narrowing down a list of flash-based MP3 players. Here are the ones I’ve considered so far.
Creative Zen – I had to consider this one because of the value proposition. I can pick up a 4GB version for $130 and the SD/SDHC external memory slot allows a lot of expandability for very little cost. However, I haven’t quite gotten over my previous experience with Creative’s MP3 players (the Zen Micro), which bit the dust, twice (as in I RMA’d the faulty thing, got a replacement, and that died a few months later as well). I admit, it does function quite nicely as a paper weight. Cross the Zen off the list.
Microsoft Zune flash – Wifi syncing is a neat idea and I’ve read some great things about the sound quality, but the fact that I need to cross the border to get it and it’s relatively high price puts a damper on things.
Apple iPod Nano – It may be a consideration for some – but with its distinctive ugliness and high price for the features ($199 for a barebones 8GB MP3 player?) it was ruled out quite early on.
Apple iPod Touch – While I doubt any MP3 player can touch the interface of the Touch (harhar), its high price and size pushed me away. In any case, if I were to get a Touch, why not go all the way and grab an iPhone? I think there’s also a part of me that wants to avoid the inevitable ‘Is that an iPhone?!?! – No, it’s an iPod’ routine.
Samsung T10 – Aside from the bluetooth, this is a fairly standard flash player, but the price is quite attractive. Futureshop and BestBuy often have sales on the player, pushing the price down to $120-130. However, only 2GB and 4GB versions are available and both are a bit small for my taste.
Samsung P2 - This device caught my attention when it was first announced back in the middle of August. Since then, Apple had their iPod launch, with the iPod Touch overshadowing the P2, which also features a touchscreen display. Although the touchscreen of the P2 is neither as large or as sophisticated (from what I can tell from videos of it anyways) as the Touch’s, the player’s also smaller and significantly cheaper – to the tune of $100 less when it is on sale at Futureshop.
Cowon D2 - Large touchscreen, expandable memory, and some rave reviews piqued my interest. I’ve considered both the the M5 and X5 from Cowon in the past. The large support community was a draw for me. However, in terms of aesthetics, this isn’t the most eye-catching of devices. It’s pretty much a block with a screen. To be honest, I find it a bit ‘chunky’. Still, looks aren’t everything.
Sandisk Sansa View – I figure if I’m pushing the stock, I may as well do my part right? Nah, just kidding. This also piques my interest due to the value proposition, like the Creative Zen. However, I do value sound quality, and from what I’ve read, the View has merely mediocre sound quality. The thing that killed this one dead is its size – the screen’s a nice 2.4″, but that only takes up around 60% of the height. There’s a lot of space around the navigation wheel/keys.
There are a lot of choices, but I’ve narrowed it down to the Samsung P2 and the Cowon D2, based on the above reasoning. I haven’t had a chance at the Cowon yet, but I’ve played with a display model of the Samsung P2 and was pretty impressed with the device overall.