Celebrating 10 Years of MP3 Players

anniversary logo Celebrating 10 Years of MP3 Players

The first MP3 player was introduced by MPMAN in 1998. It was expensive, awkward, and had 32MB of memory. 10 years later, we have flash players with 1000 times the capacity, several times the battery life, WiFi, Bluetooth, video and a mountain of other features.

Here’s an extensive look back at how we got this far in the last decade, covering over 70 players sorted by release year.

10 Years of MP3 Players


Eiger Labs MPMan F10

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This was the first MP3 player ever made. Announced at CeBIT in March as a prototype only, the device caught so much attention it was set into production and launched in May.

The device had 32MB of internal memory, which could be upgraded to 64MB by sending it in to the manufacturer and paying an additional $69. Launch price of the F10 was $250.

Diamond Rio PMP300

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Even though the F10 sold very well, this was the player that really showed that MP3 players were here to stay. The PMP300 was launched a few months after the F10, and it also had 32MB of memory.

This player’s was released in the midst of the first Napster and other illegal P2P which lead the record industry to sue Diamond. They claimed the player encouraged people to illegally copy music, but lost the case. Because of this lawsuit and the PR that resulted form it, the RIO is by many thought to have been the first MP3 player.


Sensory Science RaveMP 2100

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The RaveMP 2100 was launched in the summer of 1999. With 64MB, it had double the capacity that the other players from the year before had. On top of that a memory card slot allowed an additional 32MB to be used, making the total capacity 96MB.

The RaveMP 2100 wasn’t only the biggest capacity player available, it also introduced a new feature we know from MP3 players today – voice recording. On top of that it had a feature to store and view phone numbers, and it shipped with Sennheiser headphones. Battery life was 10 hours on a single AA battery. Transferring songs was done via the parallel port, or via USB for those who had that kind of advanced technology on their machines.

Creative Labs Nomad

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Creative’s first player was launched in June of 1999. It had 32MB of memory, FM radio, voice recording, and a price tag of $429. The Nomad was the first player on the market that had docking capabilities, allowing users to slip the player into the dock to charge and transfer files.

The interesting thing about the Nomad is that it was infact not made by Creative. It was a rebranded Samsung YP-D40, and was also available under Samsung’s brand name Yepp.

HanGo PJB-100

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Developed by Compaq and released by HanGo, the PJB-100 was the first ever MP3 player to use a hard drive for storage instead of flash memory. This meant that instead of the normal 32/64MB capacity of that time, the player had a 4.86GB laptop hard drive.

A player capable of holding 100 CD’s was the holy grail 9 years ago, and that showed on the price tag- $799.


I2Go eGo

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In 2000, the problem people were faced it was the choice between flash based players and the PJB-100. Flash based meant a very portable player, but limited capacity. The PJB-100 could hold the entire CD collection, but was the size of a brick. The eGo fixed this dilemma as it was the first MP3 player to use IBM MicroDrives.

Featuring two microdrive slots, the eGo had a max capacity of 2GB. This was however somewhat theoretical, as a 1GB microdrive cost $1000 – meaning the 2GB eGo would cost over $2000. The player also had a built in speaker and text-to-speech capabilities, but that didn’t help it sell any better. The company made only the one player, and shut down for good in 2002.

Sony Vaio MC-P10 Music Clip

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Sony’s first entrance into the digital music business ended in a gigantic failure with the MC-P10 Music Clip. The reason for this was that Sony pulled it’s usual proprietary format card and made the player with ATRAC3 playback only.

Since it came with MP3 to ATRAC3 conversion software, Sony put an MP3 sticker on the box,. This resulted in many returns and upset customers since it didnt really play MP3. After several more attempts at ATRAC only players, Sony gave up and added MP3 support. As we now know, it would take another 7 years for Sony to drop ATRAC altogether.

Creative Nomad Jukebox

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This $500 player was a big hit for Creative. It had a 6GB hard drive, and despite the size it sold great numbers. The Nomad Jukebox was one of the best MP3 players ever made both sound quality wise and feature wise, with more features than you find on many MP3 players even today.

Beside the headphone jack, it had two line-out jacks and a line-in jack. It had a parametric equalizer, spatialization settings and environmental settings which allowed you to adjust output according to what kind of room you were in. It even came with real headphones and not the standard plugs normally included with players.


Intel Pocket Concert

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The Pocket Concert was the first mass produced 128MB player ever made, a capacity that many will remember being on their first player.

It became a great success, but was discontinued shortly after when Intel eliminated it’s entire home electronics division.

Bang & Olufsen BeoSound2

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Expensive players wasn’t something new, but normally they had a reason for the high price.

B&O’s Beosound2 was an average player in every way, except for the name and exclusiveness of a B&O player. For $695 you got a player with 128MB SD card, a dock and earphones, clearly style over substance.

Apple iPod

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Archos Jukebox Multimedia

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The Archos Jukebox Multimedia was the first ever PMP (Personal Media Player), being able to display both images and video.

It’s feature set included recording from camera, line-in recording, JPEG viewing and DivX MPEG4 playback with Ice Age included out of the box. Selling for about $400, it was available in both 10 and 20GB capacities.

Creative MuVo

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The design Creative introduced with the first MuVo would stay by the company for years to come. Many will remember this player or one of it’s brothers as it’s one of the best selling mp3 player series every made.

The first MuVo didn’t have a screen, and was only available in 64 and 128MB capacities. Running 12 hours off a single AAA battery and with a integrated USB plug, it was a simple and easy to use player that certainly didn’t make a big bulk in your pocket.

Apple iPod 2. Gen

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The second generation iPod introduced a few changes to it’s predecessor, but was otherwise similar in looks.

The Firewire port was still there as only means of transfer, but the player at least came bundled with Windows software – although it was Musicmatch and not iTunes. The touch wheel was introduced to replace the mechanical one, and capacities were doubled to 10 and 20GB.

Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen

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The Nomad Jukebox Zen was the first Creative player to bear the Zen branding, a name used on most creative players today. The player was the biggest competition to the iPod at the time as Creative and Apple started to make their entrance in major consumer electronic stores.

With 20GB of hard drive space, 12 hours of battery and Firewire it was really a direct competitor to the iPod, but unfortunately didn’t do as well as it competitor.


By this point in time, the early pioneers of mp3 players were either gone or overrun by the bigger companies like Creative and Apple. The breakthroughs had been made and mp3 players had become part of every day life.

Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen NX/Xtra

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The Zen NX was the successor of the old Zen, with removable battery and slightly smaller physical size. The Zen Xtra – released at the same time as the Zen NX – provided 60GB of storage and a larger screen than it’s brother. Unfortunately the Xtra was haunted by a series of firmware and hardware issues. Some firmware verisons broke the equalizer, while others made a mess of track listings for large collections. Hardware failures included headphone jack issues and hard drive problems.

Sony NW-MS70D

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As with Sony’s first attempts at the digital music player market, the MS70D wasn’t a big hit. It still only supported WAV and ATRAC and with the new third gen iPod being released at the same time it didn’t have much success.

The player had an impressive battery life with 44 hours and it was also one of the smallest players available. 256MB built in flash and 128MB extra via a Memory Stick Duo expansion slot wasn’t much when it cost the same as a 15GB iPod.

Creative MuVo NX

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The MuVo NX took the old MuVo design and put in a screen, play modes, equalizer and voice recorder. It sold in 128 and 256MB capacities and was also available in packages with multiple battery shells. The MuVo NX was the last real update to this player series from Creative and models released in later years had the same basic menu and looks. Higher capacities and FM radio was added on the MuVo TX in 2004, and a more squared design was introduced with the V200 in 2005. The N200 was essentially the same player as the V200 but with a rechargeable battery.

The old design showed as the years went by and Creative finally discontinued the series in 2007 in favor of the Zen Stone series. None of the MuVo players had been much of an upgrade to the 2003 NX, but it still sold millions of units during the series’ run.

Cowon iAudio 4

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Cowon had been around for a few years, but the iAudio 4 was the first player like we know Cowon today.

The player had 15 hours of playback on an AAA battery, BBE sound enhancements, FM radio and LED backlight that could be set to one of 124 colors. It was a drop in the ocean among mp3 players due to Cowon America’s lack of marketing and distribution powers, but it still had a decent amount of followers.

iriver H100 series

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iriver’s old players are known to be some of the best mp3 players ever made, even by today’s measures. The iHP-1XX series (later renamed H1XX due to a argument with Hewlett Packard) was the first series of such players from iriver.

The H1XX (XX symbolizing capacity) were available in 10, 15, 20 and 40GB, and the player supported Rockbox. The H1XX was discontinued in 2004 in favor of the legendary H300 series.

Apple iPod 3. gen

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Apple continued releasing new models of iPods, and with the third generation the buttons had been moved. iTunes was available for Windows, so Musicmatch was dropped. The standard iPod dock connector was introduced, and the player got an overall slimmer look.

Capacities were raised to a maximum of 40GB, and USB suppport was added – but for syncing only. Battery life was lower
than the previous models, with only 8 hours.

Rio Karma

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The Rio Karma is one of the most reputable players in history with features that far outdid anything on the market at the time.

The Karma had a 20GB hard drive and supported a lot of formats, including Ogg Vorbis and FLAC. The player’s ability to play back files gaplessly made it an audiophile dream, and a dock with ethernet connection also helped make it popular.


Creative Zen Touch and ZEN Micro

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The Zen Touch separated itself from it’s predecessors mostly with the new design and more advanced user interface.

It had a touchpad for scrolling, 24 hours of battery life and 20GB hard drive. It sold well, but like it’s predecessors it had some issues with firmware and lockups.

Creative also released a little brother to the Touch, the ZEN Micro – the first player to use all capitalized ZEN branding. With 4-6GB of microdrive capacity, it was a more compact and more portable option for those who didn’t require the full 20GB of the Touch. The Micro got an upgrade in 2005 in form of the MicroPhoto, which had 8GB and a color screen. The Micro series is still in use and it’s also popular amongs DIY’ers because the microdrive can be swapped with a 32GB compact flash card.

Creative Zen Media Center

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The Zen Media Center was the world’s first MTP-only player, and it also ran Windows Mobile and was based on Windows Media Center.

It had a large, bright 3.8″ screen, 20 or 40GB of storage, and internal speakers. It was one of the first full blown PMP’s ever made and has later been replaced by the Zen Vision and Zen Vision W.

iriver H300 series

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If there ever was a cult mp3 player in the audiophile community, this would be it. Even today – 3.5 years after its release – it’s used by people everywhere and sell for a decent price on sites such as eBay.

The H320 and H340 players natively support OGG along with MP3 and WMA, and are are also capable of playing back video – though this feature is very limited. Rockbox expanded the H300′s features to include 15 audio codecs – among them FLAC – and that combined with the excellent audio quality has made this player the audiophile legend that it is.

Archos AV300

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Archos has always been special in that they provide video recording options for most of their PMPs. That was also true with the AV300, and a camera module made video recording possible.

The AV series continued in later years with the AV400, AV500 and AV700, but the series never did as well as Archos’ later PMP series, called Generation 4 and 5.

iAudio M3 and U2

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Cowon was busy in 2004, and released several players. The M3 was a hard drive based player that had no screen and very few buttons on the device itself, and instead relied on a wired remote control for navigation. This made the device very slim, but not everyone liked the concept. It was available in 20 and 40GB along with a 20GB L version with longer battery life – up to 35 hours.

The U2 was a flash based player, much like the other stick shaped players that was popular at the time. The U2 had features that far outdid it’s competition, with line in, radio with recording, BBE, alarm clock and bookmark functions. It was first released in low capacities, but was later released in capacities up to 2GB.

Cowon also released two other models which were upgrades to older models. The G3 was basically a U2 using an AA battery instead of an internal rechargeable one, which gave it a battery life of up to 50 hours. The iAudio 5 was released as an upgrade to the iAudio 4, but aside from some fancy background light settings it wasn’t very different.

Apple iPod 4. gen and iPod mini

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With the iPod mini, Apple introduced a smaller, lower capacity player with a click wheel for controls. It was first released with 4GB, and replaced by a new model in 2005 that was also available in 6GB.

The fourth generation iPod of the main iPod line adopted the click wheel of the mini, and a special edition color screen model was also released – later baked into the main line as iPod Photo. Though it’s competitors had used color screens for years, the Photo was the first iPod to include colors, although there still was no video playback.


Creative ZEN Sleek

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Creative released a lot of players in 2005 and a lot of those were updates like the MicroPhoto. The Sleek had it’s share of the sales, but compared to the ZVM released later in 2005 it was nothing but a footnote in history.

The Sleek was rather unextraordinary, with a 20GB hard drive, FM radio, and voice recording. It was updated later on with a Sleek Photo version, which had a OLED screen.

Creative Zen Sleek Review

Creative ZEN Vision

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The ZEN Vision was Creative’s new flagship PMP model in 2005, taking over for the Windows Media Center based Zen.

It had a 30GB harddrive and supported a variety of video formats. The 3.7″ screen had a resolution of 640×480, which is equal to a CRT TV.

Creative ZEN Vision M

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The ZEN Vision M wad a hybrid between the Sleek and the Vision, and is perhaps Creative’s most successfully player ever.

The Vision M had a 30GB hard drive at launch, and a 60GB version was later released. It had a 2.5″ 320×240 screen, and the video codec support outdid anything on the market, including the fifth generation iPod. The Vision M allowed people to play back DivX files without conversion, a fe
ature that even today is very rare on players that size. The Vision M sold extremely well, and is still in use by a lot of people today, although the player is officially discontinued.

Zen Vision:M Review

Apple iPod 5. Gen and iPod Nano

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The iPods continued to lag behind in technical specifications, and the 2005 models were no different.

The iPod Video was a much thinner player than the previous models, with 30, 60 and 80GB capacities. The major new feature was video, but the lacking video support meant only some MP4 videos and h264 could be played. Despite this drawback compared to the ZEN Vision M, it sold well due to it’s normal fan base and it’s sleek design.

The iPod Nano was a very sleek flash based player that was to take over for the microdrive based iPod Mini. The first generation suffered from a lot of criticism due to lack of support for Apple’s own accessories. It was available in 1, 2 and 4GB, and was upgraded in 2006. The second generation had twice the capacities and also fixed some of the accessory issues the first generation had. Neither the first or the second generation Nano supported video, but had a small color screen for navigation.

Cowon X5 and A2

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The Cowon X5 can best be described as a successor to the iriver H300, even if the two are from different companies.

It had the best codec support on any device at the time and even though it did support video, it was crude and mostly a novelty. The X5 was the only major hard drive player at the time that supported UMS (Universal Mass Storage) which meant it didn’t require any software or special OS to transfer files. It also relied purely on folder browsing, a feature loved by some and hated by others. The X5 was Rockboxed later on, and a 60GB version was also released.

Cowon also updated the U2 in 2005, with the release of the U3 in October. It was bigger and featured a video capable color screen.

Cowon iAudio X5 Review

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The Cowon A2 was Cowon’s first PMP, and they entered the market in style. The player supported most audio and video codecs, and the 4″ device was capable of both TV recording and TV output. The price held it down somewhat, but it was also the most advanced PMP available.

Sony NW-HD5

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The Sony NW-HD5 is another player which slides into history as an audiophile legend, due to it’s excellent sound quality.

The NW-HD5 was luckily not cursed with ATRAC only like many of Sony’s previous players, but SonicStage was still present. It had a user removable battery which could run for up to 40 hours, and had a 20GB harddrive. A special edition model was available with 30GB. It had a short life, and was pulled from the market before it’s time. Some claim it’s because it sold badly due to a defect with the buttons, making them crack under use.

Sony HD5 Review


Creative ZEN Vision W

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While 2005 was a very busy year, 2006 didn’t bring much new. Creative and Apple both had their players out the year before, and the product life was enough to bring them straight through 2006 with only a few capacity upgrades on the way. The Vision W was the biggest Creative event in 2006, and even it was an upgrade – to the the ZEN Vision.

The ZEN Vision W has a lower resolution than it’s predecessor, but made up for it with a wide screen and better viewing angle. Otherwise it is very similar to the Vision, and is available in 30 and 60GB capacities.

Archos Generation 4

Archos had been doing a lot of experimenting the previous years, and that resulted in the release of the Archos Generation 4 in 2006-2007. The series included a few smaller players known as 104 and 204, as well as the popular 404/504/604/704 PMP models.

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The 404 was the smallest of the PMP’s, meant as a budget version of the 604. With a 3.5″ 320×240 screen, it lacked some of the qualities of it’s bigger brothers, but was well supported in the codec department. A camcorder version was also available, adding a 1.3 megapixel camera to the player. The bigger models didn’t have this variation, but had helmet cams available as accessories.

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The 504 was bigger than the 604, despite the names. It was practically identical to the 604, but was physically thicker and came in bigger capacities. 40, 80 and 160GB was available and many users were able to change the 2.5″ hard drive with a bigger one.

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The 604 was the flagship of the three PMP models. It had a 4.3″ 480×272 screen, 30GB hard drive, and played back pretty much any video format – though some required costly plugins. Video recording was available through accessories. There was also a 604 WiFi version, which had a touch screen and WiFi connection. The web browser had to be bought seperately, and was provided by Opera.

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The 704 WiFi was the biggest of the generation 4 players, with a massive 7 inch touch screen placing it closer to portable DVD players than PMPs. The screen had a 800×480 resolution, 2.5 times what the 604 had. A special edition was released in France, where a TV tuner replaced the WiFi.

Microsoft Zune

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After several years on the sideline, Microsoft decided they wanted a piece of the cake in 2006. The Zune was a competitor to the iPod, but that process was no small task to take on.

The Zune featured a 3″ 240×320 screen an
d WiFi, which could be used to share songs, with certain limits. The first generation Zune later to be know as the Zune 30 was reworked from the Toshiba S series in order to get something to the market quickly.

Zune Gen 1 Review

Sony NW-A1000 and NW-A3000

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Sony’s final step before seeing the light was the 2006 players; NW-A1000, NW-A1200 and NW-A3000. With 6, 8 and 20GB respectively. The players provided nothing special beside the design, and they were troubled with some annoying flaws. First of all, the players were extremely slow, so navigating the menus was a real hassle. The european versions were also cursed with a EU regulated volume limit, which limited the output volume so much that the player was mostly useless if there was any outside noise whatsoever.

Sandisk Sansa e200

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SanDisk is most commonly known for making flash memory, but in 2006 they released a flash player which made itself a place in history as a budget player.

Available in 2, 4 and 8GB capacities, it also had a microSD slot which provided additional storage to push SanDisk core memory business. The 176×220 screen could display video and photos, and it also had a FM radio. The player was a huge success and propelled SanDisk to be #2 in the market despite buggy firmware. The e200 was also released in a rhapsody version.

Beside the e200, SanDisk also released smaller players – the c100 and c200. They didn’t support video, and were more like stick players.

Sansa e200 Review


Creative ZEN

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2007 picked up where 2005 left off and was filled with new releases and new technology. The Creative ZEN (not to be confused with the first Creatvie Zen) was released as the successor to the Vision M, and marks the point where flash memory finally overtook hard drive players on a normal consumer level

The ZEN is somewhere between the Vision M and the Vision W, sporting a 2.5″ 320×240 screen with the same basic design as the Vision W. The player has a SDHC expansion slot giving it up to 32GB extra storage, but this was very poorly implemented and is more of a novelty than it should have been. The ZEN was one of the first player to reach the magic 32GB of internal flash memory, bringing it past the normal version of the Vision M capacity wise.

Creative Zen Review

CreativeZEN Stone and ZEN Stone Plus

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The iPod shuffle released in 2006 was a nice gadget, but the price held it down. With the ZEN Stone and the ZEN Stone Plus, Creative took the basic concept that Apple had messed up and released a player anyone could afford. While the Stone was simple like the Shuffle, the Stone Plus added a small screen, stopwatch, FM radio and voice recorder. Unfortunately the Stone Plus was very sluggish and had a unfinished GUI, and was later pushed into the shadows by the Sansa Clip. Now in 2008, the Stone and Stone Plus are being replaced with an upgraded version with better battery life and integrated speaker.

Zen Stone Review | Zen Stone Plus Review

Archos Generation 5

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The Generation 5 is a small update from the previous generation, and the 50X series has now been dropped. The 605 WiFi comes in capacities of 30, 40, 80 and 160GB hard drive based, along with a 4GB flash based version with an SDHC expansion slot.

The 405 is similar, and was at first only available in 2GB flash + SDHC, but has now been upgraded to 30GB like it’s predecessor.

The 705 is also a small update from the previous version, and the change is mostly software wise. The 105 is a smaller flash based player with 2GB memory, with a OLED screen capable of WMV playback.

Archos 605 Review

Cowon D2 and i7

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The Cowon D2 released at the beginning of last year had one of the most impressive features seen on any player at the time. Despite buggy firmware, it still stands strong.

The D2 Originally Came in 2 and 4GB, and was later upgraded to 8GB. It has a 2.5″ 320×240 touch screen, radio, 52 hour battery life and an SDHC slot. Firmware upgrades have added features like flash support, and the SDHC slot has made sure it is still in the game, with 24GB max capacity currently.

The iAudio 7 is an upgraded version of the micro hard drive based iAudio 6 from 2006, but the minor update also gave the player new life. With 16GB max capacity and a battery life of 60 hours, the player has won the heart of many because of the great sound quality and compact size.

Cowon iAudio D2 Review | Cowon iAudio 7 Review

Apple iPod Classic, Nano 3 and Touch

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The new model iPods released in 2007 provided the biggest updates to the line in years. The iPod classic is about the same as the iPod video, but available up to 160GB. The Nano series got a whole new design, and video capability was added on a 320×240 screen. The Touch was the biggest upgrade to the line, sporting a 3″ widescreen 320×480 multitouch screen, WiFi and web browser. The Touch was quickly hacked to allow for homebrew software, something Apple for some reason have been busy trying to stop ever since.

Microsoft Zune 2nd Generation

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The second coming of the Zune added an 80GB hard dr
ive version and two capacities of flash players, 4GB and 8GB. The old first gen Zune, now called the Zune 30, recieved a complete overhaul of the firmware and user interface making it fit in with the new generation hardware.

Microsoft Zune 80 Review


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iriver has previousely released the U10 (named clix in the US) which utilized a new clickable screen frame system, and the clix2 is an updated version of this. The player has a 320×240 pixel AMOLED screen, which means the colors are more virbant and true. The player is available in capacities up to 8GB.

iriver also released a smaller version of the clix2, the S10. The S10 is meant to be worn as a pendant, and has a tiny color screen for navigation. It uses the same click system for controls as the clix and clix2.

iriver clix review | iriver clix2 Review | iriver S10 Review

Sandisk Sansa View and Sansa Clip

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The Sansa View started as a PMP, but before it even got released Sandisk pulled the idea and released the new version of the View several months later. The View is basically an updated version of the e200, with bigger capacities and a larger 240×320 screen.

The Sansa Clip took everyone by surprise when it was released. Sandisk was known to have at best average sound quality, but the Clip turned that around with some of the best sound quality on any player. It’s a direct competitor to the Stone Plus, but it’s a way better attempt at that kind of player. It has a small OLED screen, 1, 2 and 4GB capacities, and an FM radio.

Sansa View Review | Sansa Clip Review

Sony A810 and S610

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2007 was the start of a new era for Sony. ATRAC is gone. SonicStage is gone. The S610 and A810 players were the first players from sony that didn’t support ATRAC; and that used a standard MTP connection for transferring music.

The A810 is the bigger brother, with a 2″ 240×320 screen and capacities up to 8GB. It’s more solid built than it’s smaller brother, and comes with better headphones.

The S610 is basically the same as the A810. Screen resolution and capacities are the same, but the physical size of the screen is only 1.8″. Design wise it’s different and smaller, and it also has a FM radio that the A810 lacks.

Sony S610 Review | Sony A810 Review

Cowon Q5W

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The Cowon Q5W marks the beginning of a whole new type of media players, merging computer and media player into one device. With a price tag that mirrors the features, this 5″ device runs Windows CE, has WiFi and bluetooth, and can do pretty much anything you could ever want.

Samsung P2

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Samsung had always been a average company, with players that never really stood out as being too special. The K5 had it’s speaker, and the T9 was an earlier adopter of bluetooth, but the P2 really showed the world what Samsung could do.

The P2 has a 3″ 272×480 touch screen for video and photos, great battery life, and capacities that just hit 16GB. The bluetooth functionality doesn’t just include file transfer and stereo wireless headphones, but also lets you connect to a phone and make and receive calls from the player. The BlueWave system of firmware updates has provided the player with several new features, lastly a better UI and games.

Samsung P2 Review


As 2008 has just started, players are still popping up and being announced every week. Creative has been rumoured to work on a new hard drive player, Cowon hinted the D3 at CES, and iriver has a whole bunch of players coming – starting with the newly released E100.

Sony’s new players, the A720, A820 and S710 series, just hit shelves a few days ago, and have added bluetooth and noice cancellation to their feature sets. Sandisk’s new Sansa Fuze has continued the trend of excellent sound quality started by the Clip, and their range of players is now much stronger than it were just last year. MPIO is also coming back strong with the V10. Creative may be releasing the Zen Share possibly with the first player it’s size to support uncoverted video since the ZEN Vision M.

The year is still young, and it’s too early to tell how these new models will do. Last year was filled with new technologies, capacity upgrades and inclusion of technologies such as bluetooth and WiFi in more players. This trend will undoubtedly continue in 2008, and maybe we’ll also see new technology before the year is over. With the jump to 32GB of flash, the next step is now 64GB, and this might come sooner rather than later. SDHC cards are going 32GB too, and that means players like the Cowon D2 and Creative ZEN will go up to 40 and 64GB respectively.

10 years of mp3 has shown us how fast leaps in technology can happen, from having 32MB of music on the F10 to having 60GB of half media player half computer on the Q5W. Cell phones are starting to take their share of the market and many believes that multi function phones will make mp3 players obsolete before soon. Only time will tell, but personally I think we’ll see
at least the 20th anniversary before that will happen, if ever.


Antiqueradio : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 | NOMAD | MuVo | ZEN | Archos | Generation 4 | Generation 5 | Apple iPod | Sony Walkman | Cowon | iAudio | iriver | H300 | Microsoft Zune | Misticriver wiki | Cnet


AndySocial on March 31, 2008 1:10 PM

Considering that ABI featured the Rio Karma on the front page for years after that company’s demise, it’s surprisingly absent from the list.Of course, who can forget the near-constant stream of firmware updates for the iRiver CD-based players from 2000-2002 or so?

Andreas Ødegård on March 31, 2008 1:48 PM

Indeed you’re right, so i added it :) CD based players don’t really count, and they weren’t very revolutionary. Then again sony’s players didn’t even play mp3′s, though those are included to show how…peculiar…sony is

nywytboy68 on March 31, 2008 2:24 PM

Nice breakdown and a valuable history lesson. Lets hope we get to see the higher capacity players (flash – 64gb min) we’ve been waiting for this year and I’ve a feeling we’ll start to see a LOT more convergence devices ala the Touch. Hopefully they’ll be as well executed and won’t make me fear that I’ll be jumping back on the apple bandwagon (though that 32gb Touch IS very appealing!!!)

kadajawi on March 31, 2008 2:26 PM

I also think you should have mentioned the iRiver CD based players, they were a great and decent priced alternative to flash and hdd based players, and at a time CD based players were quite popular. Also, I think iRiver became big with models like the SlimX.

MV on March 31, 2008 7:58 PM

The article is missing the firsts Sansa; the e100 series and the m200 series. My first mp3 player was the m230 from Sansa.

Jakeworld on March 31, 2008 8:20 PM

I just wanted to compliment the author on a very interesting and collective summary of a decade of Digital Audio Players. While there are players that may be missing, I feel you did a very good job presenting the more prominent devices, if not for their features, then certainly for their peculiarities.History has never been my favorite subject, but this is a representation in which I found very entertaining. Thank you for a great read.

Xenodius on March 31, 2008 9:51 PM

Yeah, very nice! You got all the important players! =D Really interesting to read… great job!The 32gb touch would be appealing… but the sound quality is horrendous. Anyone who pays more than $30 on IEM’s will notice a huge difference between the touch and a better player, like the Clip, Fuze, or anything from Cowon. I wouldn’t trade my D2 (8+16gb) for the life of me over the 32gb touch, even though I am a 16 year old teenager with lots of apple fans for friends.

JL on March 31, 2008 10:46 PM

Nice article! But I also think you should have mentionned MP3 CD players like the Rio Volt. It was the first mp3 player I bought!

Ben on April 1, 2008 12:31 AM

Interesting. I didn’t know much about how the DAP industry started.

Joe on April 1, 2008 1:10 AM

Ha, in 1998 I had my first MD recorder from Sharp. Took so long for the format to do anything, but by that point flash based mp3 killed everything else off.

Andreas Ødegård on April 1, 2008 1:12 AM

There are a lot of players missing, by choice. iriver alone is missing 15-20 players from the list, creativ ie also missing several etc – so you can imagine how many others are. With so many players available i had to choose what was important. The early model sandisks arent included because frankly they weren’t that much of a success. The list is basically reserved for players that either brought something very new/were special in any way, or that sold very well/are still in use. If i hadn’t used such restrictions I could have written for another month and still only be half way though.CD players aren’t included simply because they are completely different players without rewriteable media and computer connection. If i had included cd players, minidiscs would be another grey area, and one could also argue that cell phones are missing from the list. Therefor i decided to set the limit at real MP3 players only, as those are what we’re celebrating :)

dragnandy on April 1, 2008 1:58 AM

great list! makes me appreciate my PMP more!!

AndySocial on April 1, 2008 7:42 AM

It’s a pretty darned good list, Andreas. Can’t please everybody, but it’s a great overview of a pretty busy decade.How are CDROM-based MP3 players not “real MP3 players” though? The Rio Volt, along with its iRiver siblings, all played MP3s as a primary function. The media shouldn’t matter if the focus was on MP3 playing. Just my opinion.Thanks for the overview. Amazing to think we used to consider 64 Megabytes a BIG player. heh

BobbyRS on April 1, 2008 8:38 AM

A very well written and entertaining article. Great job!

Andreas Ødegård on April 1, 2008 9:46 AM

AndySocial: CD players with mp3 support sin’t what i would call real mp3 players for several reasons. First of all, they were never made for the purpose – mp3 support was added on cd players later on. They dont have any kind of rewritable storage thats accessible through PC by connecting the player, which all mp3 players do (cd-rw’s are also made by the computer, not the player). They are bigger than mp3 players with exception of the first HDD players, and feature wise they are also different (most mp3 players with the exception of the very first ones have voice recording etc). As I said, its a grey area, and it could also have included for example cell phones, boomboxes with mp3 etc. After all, they were cd players with mp3 playback, not mp3 players with cd playback :)

AndySocial on April 1, 2008 9:56 AM

I guess most of us who have fond memories of the Rio Volt would beg to differ. That thing was abysmal as a CD player. The battery life was miserable playing actual audio CDs, while it excelled at MP3 CDROMs. It also had a great navigation system and audiobook support that is lacking in many of the current flash/HDD players.I can see the point of limiting the list to “computer-connected” or “rewritable internal storage” type players, but to denigrate the SlimX and Volt as “not real” is, in my opinion, not very accurate.Of course, my current CD player at work, a Sony something or other, has MP3 support, but I consider it a CD player with MP3 support, since the MP3 functions are not nearly as fleshed-out as they were on the Volt et al. This undoubtedly marks me as intellectually dishonest or at least inconsistent. I’m okay with that. :-)

Vinn on April 1, 2008 11:41 AM

Oh man, I remember the old Muvo! That was my very first DAP. My parents got me the 128mb model for Christmas. And the Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen NX was my first high capacity hard drive player since I couldn’t afford an iPod.Excellent article. It’s amazing how old the mp3 player is, and how far we’ve come since the old MPMan F10.

rikki on April 1, 2008 9:02 PM

great article!.. still remember how amazed i was wen i heard about the diamond at the age of 12. strangely im still waitin for a decent mp3 player. ive NEVER BOUGHT ONE!..STIL USING HI-MD! crazy i know!.. when sony comes out witha 32gb flash model.. thats wen my world will change :)

rikki on April 1, 2008 9:02 PM

great article!.. still remember how amazed i was wen i heard about the diamond at the age of 12. strangely im still waitin for a decent mp3 player. ive NEVER BOUGHT ONE!..STIL USING HI-MD! crazy i know!.. when sony comes out witha 32gb flash model.. thats wen my world will change :)

Kyle on April 9, 2008 2:27 AM

The entry for the RaveMP 2100 has a picture of an I-Jam player associated with it.

Fara on April 14, 2008 3:29 PM

It seems as if the Sony Memorystick Walkman NW-MS7 is missing. It was released in late ’99 along side the Sony Vaio MC-P10. I still have one, though my cousin broke it.Oh, and while not adding mobile phones was the right choice, maybe including the first one could be a good idea. It was the Siemens SL45

wintermute on April 21, 2008 8:55 AM

I love my RockBoxed iRiver H320, though it’s odd to think about how old it is now. Four years is an eternity in the world of microchips…I keep half an eye on the DAP market, in case something better turns up (if there was a 20GB version of the Clix2, I’d be there!), but I’ve yet to see anything that meets my requirements as nicely as old reliable does. And when the parts arrive, I’m swapping out the HD for a 32GB CF card.Yay for being able to hack consumer electronics!

dan on May 20, 2008 4:41 PM

What about mpio’s earlier models? The dmk, fy200, their fl models, and others. They were some of the best ones in the early 2000′s.

pacecar on May 21, 2008 3:41 PM

This is a great article. I have a 4GB Sansa Clip from http://www.shopsansa.com and I love it. It is probably the best MP3 player I have gotten my hands on. I prefer the smaller Mp3 players and this one is perfect for my lifestyle.

lacene on June 22, 2008 4:40 PM

[quote=Andreas Ødegård]The early model sandisks arent included because frankly they weren’t that much of a success. The list is basically reserved for players that either brought something very new/were special in any way, or that sold very well/are still in use.[/quote]I would disagree about this above….the m200 Sansa, while bringing nothing to the market in terms of new features/design or envelope-pushing capacities, was actually a VERY highly successful budget-class DAP. When Sandisk became the #2 DAP-seller on the US market, it was due to the m200, not the e200, Sansa….I would also have mentioned a number of other DAP makers or products. The brief line of Dell Digital Jukebox DAP’s were nothing to speak of, but they along with Creative were integral in bringing the DAP prices for HDD DAP’s down to the masses. No more would we see $400 and $500 DAP’s from the likes of Apple’s iPod. Of course, now with Dell no longer making DAP’s, and Creative a shell of it’s former self, we’re seeing Apple up to it’s old tricks, aren’t we? ;) Also, no Toshiba??

funky duck on July 19, 2008 3:17 PM

No love for CD-player based MP3 players? They used to be pretty affordale until flash memory became dirt cheap.

Tom Leibrock on January 30, 2010 11:43 AM

I’ve found a mistake in this article.I bought a 10 GB 3rd gen iPod in 2004, and it DID NOT come with iTunes, it included MusicMatch software for Windows.The 1st iPod that had iTunes for Windows was the 4th generation.Once again, Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source.

zuned on February 16, 2010 8:28 PM

i love my zune but i will eventually get an ipod touch to surf the web

Ed on May 17, 2010 1:40 PM

I don’t see the Casio WMP-1V 16MB wrist-mp3 player. I think it came out in 2000.

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