There are a few things I look at when considering music tech for personal use--OK, who am I kidding? I look at everything. But some key points top my list, such as style, sound, and ease of use. Find out who makes the cut and why in this slide show.
What more can I say about this MP3 player that I haven't already said? I am passionately in love with this little gadget. Compact design, sweet sound, integrated podcast support, smart DJ onboard, support for the music and video services I use. What more can a girl ask for? Oh, I know: a better shuffle algorithm and faster track scrubbing. Get on that, Sony, would ya?
These earphones struck a chord with me immediately because of their extremely sleek and lightweight design. The contoured eartips fit nicely into my ears, and they stay secure thanks to the small design. Plus, the sound quality is top-notch: warm, balanced, clear, and thumpy all at once. They fit me to a "T" in every sense. The one downside: a $250 price tag.
The Clip may not have a color screen or memory expansion like the rest of the Sansa line, but that doesn't mean it's not a great little player. With its built-in belt clip (also removable) and FM tuner, it's the perfect choice for the gym or any other workout. Plus, SanDisk continues to improve it with firmware additions like support for Audible, OGG, and FLAC.
Is it becoming obvious that I'm a bit of a gym rat? One of my biggest challenges is finding a set of earphones that will stay in place during activity, and the Sony MDR-AS50Gs work a treat for me, thanks to a coiling design that pushes the eartips ever so slightly into my head. But buyer beware: one size does not fit all. These won't work for everyone.
I can't believe it. I actually have to eat my own words, and I really, really hate to do it, but I'm nothing if not honest. I'm really digging on the iPod Touch as a portable video player. I wouldn't dream of using it as my standard MP3 player, but the size is just right for on-the-go video watching. It has a great screen-size-to-body-size ratio, and it's super easy to get new content right before you jet off to the airport.
I travel a lot, and many places I stay don't have the best audio setups, so I always want to have a portable speaker on hand. The iMainGo kills to birds with one stone: it's a case and speaker. It works with any MP3 player, is small enough for a carry-on, offers solid sound quality, and only costs $40.
As far as I'm concerned, an MP3 player is no good without any music to go with it. My go-to "to go" service is Rhapsody. Only $15 a month for all-you-can eat from the services massive catalog. If I have a music craving, I just plug in my player and sync up whatever I want, without having to constantly bust out the credit card for a la cart purchases. That's just how I roll.
For listening on the computer, I often just pop open my browser and pull up Slacker--sometimes you just don't want to deal with running software. Plus, Slacker has a vast array of stations to suit my eclectic tastes, and if they don't hit the nail quite on the head, I can edit stations pretty much to my liking. And the best part is that it's completely free.