No doubt about it: the Apple iPod Nano is an excellent MP3 player. It's ultraslim, generally easy to use, and has a high-quality feel and appealing extras such as a tilt sensor and a smart playlist feature called Genius. However, like all MP3 players, it's not perfect. Sound quality isn't great, there's still no user-definable EQ, and adding voice recording and an FM tuner requires that you drop more of your hard-earned cash. Luckily, if you're not convinced you want to hop on the Nano bandwagon, there's a handful of worthy alternatives, and most of those listed below beat out the Nano in audio fidelity. Of course, the important thing is selecting the best MP3 player for your needs. If the Nano doesn't suit you, one of these players should certainly do the trick.
- Cowon D2: In the premium flash MP3 player category, you have the Cowon D2, which offers an ample touch screen, stellar audio quality, a smorgasbord of features, support for OGG and FLAC audio formats, and a fantastic battery life: 50 hours for music and 10 hours for video.
- Creative Zen Mozaic: The Creative Zen offers a cool, customizable user interface; a funky design; great sound quality; and useful features such as bookmarking, on-the-go playlists with naming, and a built-in FM tuner and voice recorder--all for less than $100 (for the 4GB version).
- Microsoft Zune: You can't have a list of iPod alternatives without mentioning the Zune. This worthy contender serves up excellent sound quality, great podcast support, and an innovative user interface that still manages to be intuitive. Plus, you can sync music from your computer and share songs over Wi-Fi.
- Samsung S3: The S3 is perfectly poised to take the Nano on in the style department. This supersleek player features a glossy paint job, glowing touch-sensitive controls, and a fun, animated interface. The bargain price ($79.99 for 4GB), boatload of sound enhancement options, and great sound quality don't hurt either.
- SanDisk Sansa Fuze: Bargain-hunters will appreciate this pick--you can find the 8GB Fuze for about $100 online. It's compact, easy to use, and packed with features such as Rhapsody Channels support and a microSD card slot capable of accepting high capacity cards.
- Sony NWZ-S710F: This Editors' Choice award-winning Walkman is among the most stellar we've ever laid ears on. The NWZ-S710F delivers a perfect storm of on-the-go features, including music, photo, and video playback; FM radio; subscription music support; remarkable battery life (32 hours for audio); heavenly sound quality; and a feat only Sony could pull off: active noise-canceling in-ear headphones included in the box.