I don't know about you, but I could get used to the four-day workweek. That said, returning from time off on the day of Apple's annual iPod announcement is not exactly the best way to ease back into things. With four new iPods unleashed on the world, the MP3-reviews editors are not hurting for things to do--including fielding a flurry of questions about whether an iPod upgrade is worthwhile. After two weeks off, MP3 Mailbox is back with a question worthy of the lingering iPod-overload atmosphere.
Q: I have a question about what MP3 player I should get. I want a player with video, 8GB (or more) memory, and possibly touch screen. I would prefer it to be pocketable, but that doesn't matter as much. The two I have found are the second-gen iPod Touch and the Archos 5. I also found a refurbished first-gen iPod Touch for $60 less than the second-gen. My question: is the new iPod Touch worth the $60 dollars more, and out of all three MP3 players which should I get? If you could suggest any more that would be great.--Don, via e-mail
A: The iPod Touch is perhaps the best option among advanced PVPs, and--despite the fact that I'm a fiercely against touch screens for my own personal use--it's the only touch-screen portable device that I actually enjoy using. Plus, unlike the Archos 5, it uses solid state (flash) memory, which is more durable and stable than hard-drive memory, and it is pocketable. I haven't spent much time with the Archos 5 (Senior Editor Donald Bell's review is set to post soon), but the size alone makes it less desirable as an everyday player--it is more Internet media tablet, less PVP. On the plus side, the Archos 5 can run over 3G (if you have an active SIM card), and it can record video directly from your TV using the optional DVR dock--the iPod Touch does not offer either option.
When deciding between the first-gen or second-gen iPod Touch, consider whether the following features are worth $60: a slimmer design, dedicated volume controls, voice recording capability (with an optional add-on), support for Nike+, and a built-in speaker. Those five features are what distinguishes the newer iPod Touch from its predecessor.
One other player to consider in the touch-screen realm is the Samsung P2. It doesn't have Wi-Fi or Web browsing like the others, but it does come with integrated Bluetooth for streaming wireless audio, among other things. While the iPod Touch supports video purchased and rented from iTunes, the P2 supports video purchased and rented from Amazon's Video On Demand service (formerly Unbox). It's more compact than the iPod Touch and offers some features which may be compelling for you (subway maps and an integrated FM tuner, for example). Best of all, sound quality is nothing short of stellar, and at $179 for 8GB, it's the cheapest player mentioned here. However, in my experience, the iPod's touch screen is more accurate than that of the P2.
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.)