Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Holiday Guide 2007: Day Three: MP3 Players

The MP3 player has become the next cassette player or Walkman for the 21st century. Everyone, young and old, is realizing the potential of having a digital media player the size of a deck of cards that holds hundreds and sometimes thousands of songs!

The problem arises from the fact that there are so many different MP3 players on the market that it is mind boggling to figure out what is best for the person that you intend to buy a gift for. That's why I'm here; to simplify the world of MP3 players and allow you to make an easier decision this season.

The easiest way to divide this category up is: Apple's iPod lines vs. everyone else.

This is for good reason. Apple has been specializing in MP3 players since their creation and has gone through multiple versions (known as generations) to create a near perfect player. All the other competitors have been going through several versions but to no where near the extent of innovation that Apple has done.

Nonetheless, here is the buyer's guide for MP3 Players:

Apple: Price: $79-299 Availability: The closer we get to Christmas, the harder it is to get one.

- Apple's iPod lines cover all of the bases in terms of price range and ages.
- The iPod Shuffle is a simple, no display MP3 player that holds several hundred songs. This is great for the beginner iPod user, whether 10 or 70. Simply plug it in into a computer with iTunes installed on it and pick the songs you want on the Shuffle. Unplug it and hit play and it works. Simple, standard and economically priced at $79.
- The iPod Nano is the next step up in the iPod line and offers an easy to use color display that allows the user to select their songs from a simple, categorized menu. This particular model is in a new generation phase and now offers support for video playback as well. By uploading your favorite DVD's to iTunes, the user is able to view them while using their iPod Nano. A great addition for the slightly more technically savvy person, but not the complete music or tech aficionados.
-The iPod Classic is the perfect gift that person that has so many CD's and DVD's that they couldn't listen to or watch all of them if they had all 24 hours of the day for an entire week! This model has a larger storage space that allows for 20,000-40,000 songs or a couple hundred movies. Basically, this is what you buy for the person that is looking for a great gift for the music lover in the family. At $249, it's hard to beat!
- And finally, the iPod Touch, the tech lovers dream and my personal choice. This device serves as the next generation of PDA's. With the ability to view movies, download and play music, add a bunch of applications and surf the web from your iPod! What more could you ask for? At $299, it's the most expensive iPod but the capacity for usage is well above any iPod or other MP3 player for that matter!

The "Others":

-Microsoft Zune: Price: $149-299 Availability: Readily Available
-This is the main competition for the Apple iPod and is currently on the second generation. This is a great MP3 player but because it is still considered new, it has not reached as deep of a following as the iPod. This MP3 player has all the features of iPod Classic which a larger storage space and the ability to play both music and videos. A high quality device worth looking at for the person that loves Microsoft product or just doesn't want to worry about iTunes.

-Creative and SanDisk players: Price: $35-100 Availability: Readily Available
-These particular MP3 players are truly designed for the true beginner that really has no preference. With a lower price tag, a similar design and ease of use ability, these devices are great for the person that seems to break things easily or just the quick pick up for the surprise guest at Christmas.

I'm excluding all MP3 playing cell phones for the sole reason that this is a personal preference and solely dependent on the cell phone provider.

This is the round-up for MP3 players. Enjoy and feel free to make suggestions for next year's guide.

Thursday's Guide: PC's vs. Macs vs. Linux computers.

Have a great day!

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