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Apple iPod shuffle September '09, 3rd gen, 4GB

Apple's latest iPod shuffle is extremely small and stylish, but its lack of a screen and fiddly controls make it tricky to use. As a result, we can't fully recommend it

Apple iPod touch 3rd gen, 64GB

Apple's third-generation iPod touch may lack a camera, but, offering faster performance than its predecessors and new features, like voice control, it remains the cream of the portable-media-player crop. There's really no other device out there at the moment that can match its sublime combination of superb features and ease of use

Apple iPod nano 5th gen, with video camera

Apple's fifth-generation iPod nano is the best version yet, packing in even more features than the previous models, while retaining the intuitive functionality that's typical of the company's MP3 players. It's not perfect though, and there's little reason to upgrade from its predecessors unless you're dying to get a built-in video camera

Philips GoGear Opus

Despite some appealing features, like support for the BBC's iPlayer and FM radio recording, the Philips GoGear Opus is let down by a sluggish menu system and disappointing screen. It hasn't got what it takes to hold its own against more stylish rivals

Sony Walkman NWZ-X1050 X series

The Sony Walkman NWZ-X1050 certainly has some great features, such as a vivid OLED screen, on-board noise-cancelling technology and pristine audio quality. But it's expensive, the small screen makes for awkward Web browsing and video playback, and, overall, it's not as slick, easy to use or as feature-packed as the iPod touch

Sony Walkman NWZ-X1060 X series

The Sony Walkman NWZ-X1060 packs some excellent features, such as a vivid OLED screen, effective on-board noise-cancelling technology and truly great audio quality. But it's pricy, the small screen makes for awkward Web browsing and video playback, and, overall, it's not as slick, easy to use or as feature-packed as the iPod touch

Sony Walkman NWZ-W202

Good things sometimes come in daft packages. The Sony Walkman NWZ-W202's comfortable fit, ear-pleasing audio and rock-solid build quality more than compensate for its laughable Zappin song-navigation system and Bluetooth headset-esque styling. It's a great alternative to the iPod shuffle for anyone who values sound quality over minuscule dimensions


While it isn't infallible, the Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player plays back a wide array of audio, video, and image files on your TV without the need for a computer.

Archos 7

The Archos 7 portable media player is an impressive performer and, in particular, an absolutely killer device for watching movies on the go. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay extra if you want to use all the features it can offer, which is annoying in a device that's so costly to begin with

Cowon S9

The Cowon S9 is the company's best MP3 player to date. It boasts superb sound quality, a beautiful display and great features. Its main downside, however, is its average user interface, which isn't idiot-proof by any means

Sony NWZ-S639F Walkman

Its older, larger, more expensive A-series brethren offers wireless audio and a whopping screen, but for ease-of-use, sound quality and sheer enjoyment to use, the S639F is a terrific choice. BBC iPlayer support is an awesome bonus for UK users

Sony NWZ-B133 Walkman

It's not an exciting player, but it's well-priced, easy to use, pleasantly designed and it sounds great once you've upgraded the bundled earphones

Samsung YP-Q1 Diamond

This could be the best Samsung MP3 player to date. Not only is it remarkably affordable at £99 for 16GB, but support for lossless FLAC audio, BBC iPlayer, FM radio, drag and drop file management and a cracking little screen, means it's going on our list of Samsung successes

Cowon O2

If you download a lot of content from the Internet, we've got to say that unless you can afford the more costly alternatives mentioned above, this is one of the best candidates for the job

Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet

If you can afford it and want the best combination of Web access and outstanding video performance, this is one of the only players in the world you need to consider, despite its flaws

Creative Zen Mozaic

While neither revolutionary nor exciting in terms of functionality, the Mozaic offers terrific sound quality and a decent feature set, and is going for a penny under £120 with a 16GB capacity -- which is superb value

Apple iPod classic 2nd gen

120GB of storage and the addition of the Genius feature, makes up for the slightly reduced battery life over the previous model, reaffirming the iPod classic as our favourite portable audio player on record

iRiver Spinn

There's no doubt the Spinn is a decent player, with great audio format support, a superb screen for watching video and excellent sound quality. But it's not without its share of issues