Squaring off against iPod
Though the $250 iPod Mini
is temptingly tiny (3.6 by 2.0 by 0.5 inches and 3.6 ounces), CES brings bold new challengers that are comparable in size and storage capacity. Back in December, Creative Labs announced--and still heavily touts--its $299 Nomad Muvo² 4GB, which offers the same 4GB hard drive as the Mini and measures a slim 2.6 by 2.6 inches and 3.2 ounces. With advanced playback control, the Nomad also boasts shuffle and resume features as well as a coveted cross-fade function. Another positive is that the Nomad is already available for purchase.
Samsung's pocket-friendly Yepp YH-800
Samsung also has joined the competitive, tiny hard drive-based portable-music fray with its Yepp YH-800. Very pocket-friendly at 1.0 by 2.3 by 2.3 inches, the Yepp is easy to tote. Unfortunately, the YH-800 comes with only 1.5GB of storage space yet costs $299. However, the Yepp does feature a built-in FM tuner and can record MP3 files directly from its radio. Expect the YH-800 to grace store shelves by April 2004. Get 20GB in a six-ounce package
Perhaps the most compelling personal digital audio option is the slickly designed Gmini 220
from Archos. This $349 player is certainly more expensive than its rivals but manages to fit an unprecedented 20GB of hard drive space into its minuscule six-ounce frame and still be trim enough to slide into a shirt pocket. Even better, the Gmini 220 sports a CompactFlash (CF) slot and is designed to quickly back up digital pictures directly to its large drive. This means that in the field, you can transfer pictures from your digital camera via CF card to the Archos, then clear the card's memory to continue shooting. Archos plans to ship the Gmini 220 in early January. Keep your eyes peeled for further audio innovations, since Toshiba's storage division also has just announced plans for a new 0.85-inch hard drive, anticipated to come in 2GB and 4GB flavors. This will probably provide even more fuel for the hot anti-iPod revolution.