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MP3 players with removable batteries and cheap speakers--Ask the Editors

Get all the answers to your questions about MP3 players, headphones, and portable audio accessories in this weekly Ask the Editors feature.

What ever happened to removable batteries? I'm not just talking about the alkaline variety, but the user-replaceable kind that were also rechargeable. It appears as if they have gone out of fashion, and many a frequent-flier is bummed. All is not lost, though, as you still can find AAA-friendly MP3 players if you look hard enough...or if you just keep reading this page. You can even find decent portable speakers for less than 50 bucks, which is just about the max I'd want to spend on such an item in the current economic state.

Q: What MP3 players might still run on one or more AA or AAA (user replaceable) batteries? Or what MP3 players might have a long audio playtime? Also, what set of small portable battery powered speakers do you like for, say, less than $50? --Doug, via e-mail

Sony E-Series

A: Ah, the elusive removable-battery-powered MP3 player. Those are few and far between nowadays. In fact, I don't know of any current ones, but it looks as if a few older models are still available. Keep an eye out for the SanDisk Sansa m250 and the RCA Pearl, both of which have the added benefit of being exceptionally cheap. There's also the Sansa Shaker, though that player may have limited appeal to adults without children. If your concern over having a swappable battery has to do with longevity, I might suggest the Sony E-Series. It has a rated battery life of 45 hours, and though we haven't completed our testing of that claim, I believe the results will be in line with the rating (Sony's numbers have been accurate in the past).

Duette is cuette.

As for the speaker question, I can think of a handful that I like for less than $50. Both the LG MSP-100 ($37) and the iMainGo 2 ($40) are ultracompact and offer solid sound quality for their size, and the iMainGo has the added benefit of being a protective case for your MP3 player. I even like the supercheap IceTech Duette ($12), but then I'm a sucker for cute and tiny tech. (An important thing to note, too, is that the Duette is a mono speaker.)

CNET/Corinne Schulze

MP3 Mailbox Monday is a recurring feature where I answer a selection of questions about MP3 players and accessories, such as headphones, speakers, and music services and software. Check back often to see if the advice presented here might be of some use to you, or send your questions directly to me. (Note: We never include last names, but if you prefer to remain completely anonymous, please state as much in your e-mail.)