Apple didn't invent the portable music player, but the company's iPod was the category's first true mass-market phenomenon. But in the post-iPhone era, iPod sales have continued to plunge -- which is why Apple finally pulled the plug on sales of the iPod Shuffle and the yesterday.
So what now? Of course, these models will still be available in retail and online until stock runs out. But we know some of you still want non-phone music player alternatives for workouts, for the beach or just for serious music appreciation. With that in mind, we've sorted through the shrinking MP3 player market for some worthwhile alternatives.
SanDisk must be pretty happy right about now -- the SanDisk Clip Jam is one of the only ultracheap MP3 players left. The Clip Jam has always been a good alternative to the Shuffle because a) it has a screen, and b) it doesn't require iTunes.
Price: From $50
We haven't reviewed the Sony players, but with prices starting at 4GB and based on what we've seen from Sony's portable players of the past few decades, it should be a decent option.
An audiophile favorite, theoffers a lot for your hundred bucks. It looks and sounds more expensive than it is and will sound great with headphones many times the price. While not as exercise-friendly as the Apple models, this is the budget MP3 player to buy.
Cowon has had some stunning players in recent years -- the discontinuedis still one of our reference portables -- and the tiny Plenue D follows in this tradition. It's easy to use, sounds really good for the money, and fits conveniently in your pocket.
The iPod Touch is now Apple's last remaining MP3 player, but with a camera, Wi-Fi and iTunes Store compatibility, it's one of the most fully-featured here. If you don't want a phone, this is your next best option.
Price: From $279
It's the circle of life. The Apple Watch essentially started off as aand now it becomes its own Shuffle replacement. While getting music on to the Watch is far from straightforward, if you're an Apple user and want to work out, this is the only real option left.
People buy an MP3 player for one of two reasons, and both have involve their phones. The first is for the times they don't want to carry one around all the time, and the second is that they want something that sounds better. If you're in the second camp, then theDACs are for you. This is a separate stick with a USB port on one end and a headphone jack on the other -- it's designed to improve the sound from your PC or phone. Sure, hanging a DAC off an umbilical USB cable is a small inconvenience. But it's not as bad as having two players in your pocket, and the cutting-edge performance more than makes up for it.