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Assault on the nano: Samsung and SanDisk line up their troops

Not long ago the iPod nano was the smallest, coolest little MP3 player in the world. Devious eyes have been gazing greedily at the nano's success and want a bite of the flash-based doughnut for themselves...

These are the two players that simply must have Apple -- even if it must be burglary. The Samsung YP-Z5 (pictured left) looks like the most viable of the two -- some of the designers who've worked on the interface for the Z5 told Crave at CES that they'd worked on the original iPod interface. Things may be looking up for Samsung if this is true.

Certainly, the Z5's interface appeared slick as a greased baby down a bowling alley when we checked it out at the Samsung stand. You can watch the video of our experience here. The Z5's graphics transitions beat the hell out of what the iPod can offer, and there's some fairly groundbreaking integration of album art and photographs. The player is available in 2GB and 4GB versions.

SanDisk's e200 (pictured right) is a more reserved entry into the market, but bears an even more striking resemblance to the nano -- witness its Clickwheel-like interface. The company touts a 128-hour battery life on the 6GB e200. Samsung claims 38 hours. Both eclipse the nano's 14 hours, but can they outdo the interface and its excellent iTunes integration? Watch this space.

The YP-Z5 is due to be released here next month, and the e200 in March. UK prices are yet to be confirmed. -CS