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>> Hey I'm Molly Wood. Welcome to CNET's Holiday Gift Guide. I am here with Donald Bell, Senior Editor for digital music and audio players, and we're talking about some of the best MP3 players to choose this holiday season and how to pick just the right one.
>> Donald: It's difficult.
>> Molly: Yeah, how, really though is it? Cause aren't we just talking about iPods like what are we doing here?
>> Donald: The tricky situation you get yourself in is know where the music collection already lives for the person you're buying an MP3 player for so if they're already in iTunes, Universe and already have their music collection in iTunes or on a MAC, you're probably going to be buying them an iPod if you're thinking about buying them an MP3 player.
>> Molly: And if they watch TV or drive down the road, or hear anything about players ever. So let's start with iPods, not end with iPods, but start out. So there are new options even there, right?
>> Donald: Of course now the family supports four. You've got the Shuffle, you've got the Nano, you've got the Classic and you've got the Touch.
>> Molly: Okay. And really the Classic is just more. It's the old, it's the iPod you really love.
>> Donald: Classic is the iPod, the iconic iPod, hard drive-based iPod but now just has a handle. But yeah the luxury iPod you'd be buying this season would be the Touch which is the iPhone based Apple iPod. It has the touch screen interface and has Wi-Fi enabled on it so you can use it to browse the Internet, to download You Tube movies; you can do a lot with the Touch and it's the luxury MP3 player of the season I'm sure.
>> Molly: Right. It's almost like this new Smart MP3 player category.
>> Donald: They're getting too smart.
>> Molly: Yeah.
>> Donald: Yeah.
>> Molly: Okay so iPod's out of the way; say you know someone who's ready to branch out, has some different music collection, then what are you going to do?
>> Donald: Then I'm going to recommend the Arco 605 Wi-Fi which is a huge baheny [assumed spelling] of a player.
>> Molly: It's clearly not an MP3 player.
>> Donald: No, no, no. But I should mention this just because people who already have an iPod or who already have an MP3 player but maybe are branching up to watching portable video content, taking movies on the road, maybe they're traveling or gets on airplanes a lot and wants to watch movies in the airplane, the Arco 605 is the luxury portable video player for watching video content. Also it's Wi-Fi enabled just like the iPhone and iPod Touch so you can browse the Internet on this.
>> Molly: This is a great gift idea for someone who already has maybe a less expensive or less future-filled MP3 player.
>> Donald: Right but they love video and maybe the smaller screen on an iPod is not doing it for them; they want to take it up to the next level. That's where the Arcos comes in.
>> Molly: Okay and then what about a little guy like this if you've already got your luxury MP3 player but you need a spare?
>> Donald: You need a beater right? So you can go with the Sansa Clip which is a 40 dollar or 70 dollar MP3 player depending on what capacity you get. It's a really light flash-based MP3 player that has great sound quality and it supports Rhapsody's subscription music integration so you can even do all you can eat music services and listen to this at the gym and it's cheap, it's great, it's got FM radio.
>> Molly: And what are we talkin' like 2 gigabytes or 4 gigabytes or something like that?
>> Donald: I think 1 and 2 gigabytes.
>> Molly: 1 and 2, right; oh yeah at 40 dollars.
>> Donald: Right.
>> Molly: And then let's talk a little about out surprise pick in the MP3 category.
>> Donald: Sure.
>> Molly: Is the top choice not an iPod?
>> Donald: Not an iPod. I mean people are gonna buy an iPod don't get me wrong.
>> Molly: They don't need your help for that.
>> Donald: Exactly. The one we want to let people know about is the Sony NWZ-A818 which is Sony's new--I know it's not a catchy name, but it's Sony's newest MP3 player.
>> Molly: No one's gonna remember that.
>> Donald: I know it's not memorable sounding but it's actually a really high-quality MP3 player; and the reason Sony's never been on any of our top list before is because they've been shackled to their proprietary 8-track file formats; so instead of MP3 or the files that people typically load on to MP3 players, Sonys' have to use their own particular format. Now they let you use whatever file format you want which is great because Sonys always put out really high-quality MP3 players with great sound quality, great battery life, it's around under 200 dollars for this player; you get video and lots of fun stuff.
>> Molly: Okay, good size and then great headphones?
>> Donald: Great headphones with this one too. You never hear that but we actually really enjoyed the headphones that came with the Sony MP3 player. On their own these would be about 70 dollars so this is a great value to have with this MP3 player.
>> Molly: So really your choices in the MP3 player category are capacity like you want from 1 gig up to 80 gig pretty much?
>> Donald: They're either gonna be in the flash-based MP3 player round which are typically less expensive MP3 players that are lighter, and those go from like 1 gigabyte to 8 gigabytes; they actually go up to 16 gigabytes now.
>> Molly: That's what the Touch is right?
>> Donald: That's what the Touch is but those are more expensive; those are just kind of breaking through now so there's a higher price point for them.
>> Molly: Well it's a good amount of storage but not quite enough for doing all the video and all that.
>> Donald: People who are used to having their like 30 gigabyte iPod is kind of a step down for them; but their the lighter, faster, leaner MP3 players, but you still have the higher capacity players like the iPod Classic and the Arcos and the Zune that are gonna be between 30 up to 160 gigabytes for hard drive players. For those it can be better for video content.
>> Molly: Okay and then you have to make your DRM decision whether you're gonna go with subscription, with iTunes, with just ripping through these.
>> Donald: It looks like the future is point us toward a world where we don't even have to have this conversation but still there is protected music that can only be played on certain players, certain restrictions, but you should know that ahead of time. If the person you're buying for has a ton of purchased music either in iTunes or some other retailer, you should know that before you buy them an MP3 player because it might not be compatible.
>> Molly: All right great. Thanks Donald very much, and remember you can find more great picks in all of our major categories at holiday.cnet.com.
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