SanDisk's take on the iPod

"I want to be like Mike," was the mantra of many a 15-year-old boy in the '80s and '90s. Who could blame them? Michael Jordan was an overwhelming presence. Jordan's teammate, Dennis Rodman, also had stunning skills. But nobody ever said, "I want to be like Dennis."

Today, the first bulky media players like Archos and Rio that nobody really wanted have been replaced by the stylish and more mobile iPod series. Apple's design staff has performed astounding feats of technical execution and style.

Our colleagues at CNET Reviews took a look at the SanDisk Sansa e270. It got high marks from reviews, so here's my take: SanDisk has pushed its imitation (read as "flattery") of the iPod right up to the edge. Like the iPod, it plays video and MP3s. It even has controls that mimic the iPod click wheel. Unlike the iPod, it plays FM, has a voice recorder and a removable battery. It's supposed to available by the end of March.

Understandably, the competitors have to follow Apple's lead because Apple has been the trailblazer, bringing its new and cutting-edge products to the market first. Be like Apple? Makes sense. But maybe they could borrow something else from Apple and "think different."

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