Top 5 MP3 Players of 2008

top 5 2008 Top 5 MP3 Players of 2008

In the year 2008 many great new MP3 players were released. Sizes shrunk, capacities got bigger, and screens improved. Since there are so many choices among the anythingbutipod MP3 players there never is a “best” or one-size-fits-all. Features, form factors and capacities are too widespread to make a general recommendation for everyone. This top 5 list chooses the best of breed or those players that really brought something to the table in 2008. These 5 players will be a great pick for the many or a prefect starting point for all looking for a new MP3 player.

#5 Sony Walkman A720/A820

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Sony has always been known for well built and higher end electronics. This was the case for the Sony A720 and A820 (both of these models are the same but the A820 series adds Bluetooth). This A series player was put on the list for its nice large screen, thin size, and ability to playback H.264 or MP4. This format is readily available in the form of podcasts and DVD rips due to the iPod using this format as well. Other great features of this player include: great sound quality, instant on, solid firmware, and a great UI.

The Walkman is usually a fairly underrated player on the scene due to the very confusing product line and alpha numeric naming schemes, but we will go ahead and give this one the thumb up endorsement as the best of the countless players Sony has recently released. If you would like a more in-depth look, take a look at our Sony A820 review or stop by our Sony forums for some help.

#4 Cowon iAudio D2

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Even though the D2 was released back in mid 2007, it still carried on strong though out 2008 with added capacities and many firmware updates. The D2 made the list because it is truly an audio geek’s player. Cowon’s typically great sound quality is apparent D2 many times being paired with headphone amps costing two or three times the player itself. It also supports many of the enthusiast audio codecs including OGG, APE and FLAC. The battery life will keep you tunes playing for a bit over 50 hours and video for around 10 hours. The SD slot nicely integrated your collection into the main memory with the potential to bring the D2 up to a 48GB flash player with the addition of a 32GB SD card.

The D2 very much deserves a place on the top 5 but I do offer a few words of caution. The D2, as all Cowon products go through a very rocky firmware update path and requires digging though forums to get the most out of the player. It is a player for the geek, the tinkerer, the enthusiast, and not someone looking for a low maintenance player.

You can check out the Cowon D2 review for a good look at this player or check out the many threads in the D2 forum. The D2 is showing its age and will be soon replaced by S9, but since it’s likely on its way out, prices are getting some heavy discounts.

#3 Microsoft Zune 120

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Most readers here are not fans of the ecosystem approach in having to use the only the Zune software. But, it was very hard to ignore it due to the many great things that Zune has brought the table for portable audio. The Zune 80 & 120 was personally one of my more used players in 2008 this mainly due to the fact that it was the only player I could around *all* of my 70GB+ music collection with room for many video podcasts automatically downloaded thought the software. The Zune Marketplace software conjures either a love or hate response. This clear demarcation between the two is a matter of spending time using the software and getting used to it. The only thing I ended up hating about the Zune Marketplace software was the fact that I could not use it with any other players. It is highly unlikely that this will ever happen but I have my fingers crossed for a similar experience in Windows Media Player 12 so that others can enjoy this experience.

There are other great aspects of the Zune including its solid design with a scratch proof glass screen, great sound quality, beautifully easy to use UI, and Wi-Fi syncing plus direct downloads. However, what impresses me most about the Zune constant improvements though software. If you bought a Zune 30 (just know as a plain old “Zune” back then) the first day it was released back in 2006, you have not been left behind on all the software update though out the years. That same old school Zune is nearly identical to the brand new Zune 120 though firmware and software updates.

Check out the latest Zune 120 and Zune 16 hardware review on the front page or you can always stop by our Zune forums if you are looking for more interactive feedback. Even if you don’t have a Zune, I do recommend checking out the software since it does make a great desktop media play
er with some pretty slick drag and drop ID3 tag editing.

#2 Samsung P2

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2008 was Samsung’s year solidified by the P2. The touch based player designed in-house by Samsung is solid, elegant, and very well made. P2 users have also been delighted with big firmware updates dubbed “BlueWaves” breathing new life into the player with each release. In addition to the player being packed with many features, one of the big reasons the P2 made the list was the innovative use of Bluetooth. While other manufactures simply used Bluetooth to connect wireless headphones, Samsung’s knowledge of the mobile phone market allowed them to symbiotically connect the P2 to any Bluetooth enabled phone. The way they did this would allow you to bury your phone in your backpack or pocket and use the P2 as the interface to your phone. Once paired, calls could be dialed on the on-screen touch pad and communications handles by the headphones and built in microphone. When calls were received, music fades, the track is paused, and the caller ID is shown on screen. In addition to this clever use, Bluetooth also served to transfer files and connected to wireless audio devices and headphones.

The P2 remains a great player today, but if you have some patience to wait till early next year the P3 will offer many improvements over an already fantastic player. Stay tuned to the site for more information on the P3 as we will check it out at the upcoming CES 2009. Additionally check out the P2 and P3 forums for the latest developments. Samsung P2 Review.

#1 SanDisk Sansa Clip

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Putting together the order of the other top 5 was a bit of a struggle and a debate, but the #1 was a no brainer. The Clip is one of the cheapest MP3 players on the market, in terms of price as well as build materials- though still very rugged and durable. The screen is small and interface is simple and straight forward. It supports OGG and FLAC and sports both MTP and MSC transfer protocol. It is a fairly basic, but thorough player.

So what’s the deal?

Back when the clip was first released marketing literature touted that the clip was the best sounding mp3 player. I scoffed at these claims and could not wait to get my hands on one to bust this allegedly exaggerated marketing speak. I plugged it into some high end headphones and was instantly impressed; I couldn’t bust these outlandish claims. The Clip is a staple in my gear bag paired with the $500 Shure SE530 headphones. It is still one of the best sounding MP3 players do date and paired with the lowest priced player made for a killer combination. The new 8GB capacity is selling for around $90 but I have seen the 1GB version for under $20. At this price it makes it a great candidate for the gym or other rugged environments you might not want to take your $200-300 main player. The Clip continues to be popular among many of the enthusiasts in our forum as a secondary player pairing them up with headphone amps 10 times the cost of the Clip.

The Clip still suffers from an occasional bug but SanDisk continues the work on improving and adding features. You can find the latest info on the Clip in our very busy SanDisk Sansa forums or take a look at the head to head Clip vs Shuffle article. Also have a look at the review if you would like and in-depth look, but at the price and our glowing recommendation- just buy one.

On a side note, the Sansa Fuze shares the same great sound quality but has a big screen and microSD expansion.


Justin rosaria (jjrosaria) on December 1, 2008 2:50 AM

nice list enzo. good thing my walkan is in the list ;-)

Lukekee on December 1, 2008 3:02 AM

Looked like a purple Clip for a sec…D2 and Clip. Domination.

zenpharaohs on December 1, 2008 4:34 AM

If they made an 8GB or 16GB clip? Maybe. I have no use for smaller sizes. 32GB View would make more sense.Zune? No. The software is a no-brainer, and I am one of the people equipped with a brain. And is that a proprietary cable?P2? I have one. It’s nice, but it can’t figure out folders to save it’s life. Too pricey at 16GB. Plus, proprietary cable.Sony? Even nicer than P2. Their whole range is more or less the same. Really nice except for the proprietary cable.Then comes the D2. The righteous and clear winner. And with the prices you can get them for now, with the great battery life, versatility? Best of breed for sure. AND CAN WORK JUST FINE WITHOUT ANY PROPRIETARY CABLE.

Utew on December 1, 2008 6:25 AM

Though everyone is going to have their own opinion on what players and what order a Top 5 list should be composed of, I think this pretty well sums up it up nicely, Grahm. At some point, this list will have to contain mobile phone/media players as de-emphasis on stand-alone media players will be the future of CES companies as convergence continues. Nokia, SE and others are now making some compelling phones with audio playback capabilities rivaling our traditional DAP’s.

Skobbolop on December 1, 2008 7:25 AM

too bad the new sony players haven’t been reviewed here…. i’m pretty sure they would have made the list…

Andreas Ødegård on December 1, 2008 7:50 AM

@Skobbolop: A review is under way, but it wouldnt have made the list. With sony, most players are mosre or less alike – small thigns seperate them and its all about having the basis and choosing the most important extra featue on top. The A820 with the bigger screen and better buttons beats the crap they’ve put into the new ones.

Davin Peterson on December 1, 2008 8:36 AM

What about the Creative Zen X-Fi? It is a great player and far better than any iPod

Pedro Guerra on December 1, 2008 8:58 AM

Yeah, it’s a shame that Zeb X-Fi isn’t on top 5… it’s a really good player, full of features.. and the best price-quality relation ever… even if it is not on that top 5, I’ll still buy it… good post, anyways…

Pepe on December 1, 2008 9:23 AM

I have to say though, 2008 wasn’t really a spectacular year for DAP releases. It was more of an “updating” year. If you notice the ones on the list, a few of them were actually released in 2007 (Cowon’s D2 already winning’s best player of 2007)I have to say though, I couldn’t have thought of a better Top 5! :D Would’ve picked a different order though.On a side note: Would’ve loved to have seen the ZEN X-Fi on that list, though, compared to those 5, I’d rate it as #6 XD

RedSky on December 1, 2008 9:26 AM

The Clip may be great value, but it hardly has the best sound quality. Basing my opinion on the Fuze which apparently has the same sound quality, the lower end is not as punchy as it could be while the clarity isn’t as good as the D2. It doesn’t sound bad by any means but it is reasonable all around but master of none. Also as someone else said, capacity really cuts its usability.

Grahm on December 1, 2008 9:31 AM

Yeah i had a tough time with the X-fi. Maybe #6 would be a good place for it, it just couldn’t go on the top 5 because of Creatives failure to integrate the SD card,the poorly simulated X-fi, and the ridiculously clumsy keypad, and useless chat feature. If creative made a true successor to the Zen Vision M, it would have definitely been on the list.

WHAT on December 1, 2008 9:48 AM

Hey, what about the iriver CLIX!?!?!?!?!?It is also AMAZING!

Sam Kruse on December 1, 2008 10:38 AM

Thanks for the list. I’ve been reading on this site for about a year now, and I actually felt like commenting today =]I’ve had the D2 for about 9 months now, I love it, and I just ordered a silver Sansa Clip last night for $34.99. I’m excited. Now my D2 will probably become my main video/game player. And since rockbox is developing on both players, I’m really excited. Thanks for this awesome list, and I really appreciate what you’re doing with this site.

MarvintheMartian on December 1, 2008 10:56 AM

No arguments from me on this list…my Clip #1, my Fuze an honorable mention, and the player I aspire to(D2) all in the mix :-]

Brad L. Wooldridge on December 1, 2008 10:59 AM

Five hundred dollar headphones with a sub-fifty dollar Clip? Gotta love it!

Scarpad on December 1, 2008 11:11 AM

I’d third the Zen X-fi, Especially with the latest FW the XFI actually makes a Difference, for Giggles I took 12 Albums and Converted them to WMA CBR 128 bitrate files loaded them up on my X-Fi and took a listen and damn if the X-Fi did’nt make these low bitrate files sound fantastic. I’m now converting my CD’s over to this format and should be able to get the majority of my library over to the 48gb space I have available on the Zen.

Roadster on December 1, 2008 1:05 PM

You said, “…a big reasons the P2 made the list was the innovative use of Bluetooth.”Obviously you haven’t tried to use it!

Richard A on December 1, 2008 2:27 PM

Nice article. I just picked up a Fuze at Costco on Friday and so far am very pleased with it. I can see why the Clip made the list.I only wish Creative did a better job with the X-Fi. I need a player with more than 32 GB of storage so I was disappointed with the X-Fi and the fact that it does not have an integrated SD slot.

Relyt on December 1, 2008 2:53 PM

I would agree with all of this except that I think that the D2 should be exempted since it was from 2007. Yeah, it is still holding strong though. I think that it deserves an honorable mention. Also would totally agree with the clip. What about the SPINN?

Mark on December 1, 2008 3:01 PM

Would have listed the Sony much higher personally. (expecially because the Zune is not actually available outside the US)

Mike on December 1, 2008 3:12 PM

@zenpharaohs: There indeed is a new 8gb Clip, released in the last 1-2 months. US$80-90 (try Walmart and in the U.S. for best prices, $80), and even cheaper in Germany. And that’s about the price of the 4gb Clip 8 months ago …

Simon on December 1, 2008 3:28 PM

The Sony is where it’s at, straightforward to use, awesome sound quality, great build, great battery life.If Sony were to add FLAC to it, and make the storage SD/MSDuo upgradeable, it would be unbeatable IMHO.

chaosdivine on December 1, 2008 5:18 PM

Creative – The company that “could” have made this list, “should” have made this list, “would” have made this list but didn’t…Why? Because they refuse to listen to their customers wants/feedback etc., fix the bugs in their products (regular firmware updates helps) or give two sh!ts about you once they get your money. Though I do like my Zen, I don’t LOVE it. I should, could and would love it but when it finally dies, I want a divorce from Creative for life – never to return.

Clockworthy on December 1, 2008 5:38 PM

Zunes are awesome!Though my 30 GB one doesn’t have the touch pad, and it’s one of the semi-new generation ones.

Grahm on December 1, 2008 6:00 PM

@chaosdivine you hit the nail on the head with creative. one of the commonalities that i see with the successful dap manufactures is that they listen to users. Cowon, Microsoft, SanDisk, and Samsung have all been directly or indirectly involved in our forums and actively seek feedback from our readers and users. Creative will never be what they once were if they continue to shut out the community.

jkj1962 on December 1, 2008 6:12 PM

I just picked up an 8GB Clip over the weekend, and I have to agree about the build quality. It feels cheap compared to the Fuze or even the Express, but I suppose the case is thinner to make it smaller. It is still an amazing little player.

Iruka on December 1, 2008 9:44 PM

Killer list. ^^P2 and Clip OWN~~ even with mid-range earphones, the Clip sounds good *amazed~*And the P2 is just *love it~*

Johan Krüger-Haglert on December 1, 2008 9:58 PM

Get the fucking Cowon O2 review out instead =P

zenpharaohs on December 1, 2008 10:03 PM

Mike: Well if I didn’t have a D2 and some 16GB SDHC cards, an 8GB clip could be sweet.But I have at least a thousand hours on my D2 this year, and next after that I’ve used my little 8GB Sonys the most – and that has shown me that 8GB really is the minimum I can use in a player – even though the Sonys are sweet.At the moment, I’m getting used to what I suspect will be my new primary video player (replacing the A3). I never really got videos onto my P2 easily enough for that to do the video job. (And since it’s bad at folders I can’t really use it for audio.) Just before this post, I received my new 32GB Cowon O2. I’m sold on SDHC slots.

scytheavatar on December 2, 2008 1:24 AM

I don’t get it, isn’t the Fuze just the Clip with a bigger screen and microSD card expansion? Wouldn’t that make it better than the Clip?

Warofart on December 2, 2008 1:39 AM

How about a top 5 PMP of 2008 for next time?Thanks for the list though.

Michael on December 2, 2008 2:02 AM

There’s some coincidence that I read here about the Clip and I own one now. It’s really a very usable player for little money.Its podcast functionality is really good (bookmarks for every single podcast file). I wonder why people argue against the capacity of 8 GB; it’s more than enough. All the more for this price.

dragnandy on December 2, 2008 2:16 AM

although i agree that the clip should be on this list, i think that scytheavatar does have a point there. i remember reading that they have the same audio chip and same audio quality. this would make sense

Pepe on December 2, 2008 7:07 AM

Hmm.. I’d say my top list would be, based on players RELEASED in 2008:1. Cowon O22. Sansa Fuze3. Zune 1204. Sony Walkman A820/A7205. Creative ZEN X-FiBut, then again, I haven’t used ANY of those players personally, so I wouldn’t really be able to tell xD

Doghouse Riley on December 2, 2008 6:31 PM

I long for the day when there might be a universally recognized and supported portable video format (Xvid) just as MP3 is that format for audio.This top five list is for me a top one list (Cowon) as I desire to re-convert all my video files for a new PMP about as much as a yearn for a wide-awake root canal.

zenpharaohs on December 2, 2008 9:27 PM

Michael: “I wonder why people argue against the capacity of 8 GB; it’s more than enough.”Well, let’s see. On my old H340 (still an excellent player) my music collection is 9.62GB. Since then, I’ve added quite a bit. Note that this didn’t make my music collection smaller.Then, there are my audiobooks. On this machine, the few recent ones add up to 19.0 GB. I have quite a few more audiobooks but they aren’t the most current.Then there are videos. I haven’t got an exact number, but it tends to be about one gig per go at low-ish resolutions. I typically have about three hours of television programs to see each day.Then there are a few movies I keep around. Like the Antony Asquith version of “The Important of Being Ernest” which I frequently refer to. Also Ronin.Then there are the podcasts. I have about 8GB of current podcasts, more like 16GB if we go back a year.It all fits on three 16GB SDHC cards, and with the D2? It’s easy to access and plays back well.

Claire on December 3, 2008 4:36 AM

These are all pretty good, but somehow I felt like the Cowon O2 should have made this list over the D2. The Cowon O2 has almost just as many capabilities, but it’s thinner and has a bigger screen.

humersimpson on December 3, 2008 9:21 AM

IMHO, regardless of which slot the Clip should be, the Fuze should be it’s co-slot holder for the reasons many of the previous people have already given. For the money, the Fuze is about as good of a deal as the Clip since it has the expansion capability and a larger screen to make scrolling through your selections easier. While you can watch videos on the Fuze, the screen size is not too conducive to doing it too often, so I really don’t see that as being an advantage over the Clip. Now, if the clip had the 8 gig storage and a MicroSD slot, then I it would rate higher on the “bang-for-buck” category and perhaps leave the Fuze on its own (and at that point, the Fuze would really not be “needed”).

zenpharaohs on December 3, 2008 8:16 PM

Claire: “These are all pretty good, but somehow I felt like the Cowon O2 should have made this list over the D2. The Cowon O2 has almost just as many capabilities, but it’s thinner and has a bigger screen.”O2 is a really nice player – I am using mine as I type this. I think it has even more capabilities than the D2. But it is not thinner than the D2.So far the only quibble I have with the O2 is that it seems to have to be manually told to connect to an SD card, even if the SD card hasn’t changed since the last time the player started. Maybe there is a setting for this, or they will fix it in firmware.

Woody469 on December 4, 2008 11:16 AM

I bought the Fuze on sale for 100 and an 8 gig (on sale $25) micro SDHC for a total of $125 for 16 gigs. I value the opinion of this site and currently own 4 of the 5 listed players. I’d leave the list the way it is.

Scoto on December 4, 2008 1:45 PM

Nice list Grahm, long time reader of the site, and I totally agree about the clip, it sounds amazing with high end stuff. One question though, what theme is that on the d2 sitting on the amp on the far left picture? Also is that an ibasso amp? Keep up the good work!

Relyt on December 4, 2008 5:44 PM

@GrahmSkee – Typo – You said that the clip is the best MP3 player “do” date in the second paragraph.

Martin Sägmüller on December 6, 2008 10:00 AM

Scoto, it’s my D2 rig, showing my MoreMono theme. You can download it from here: the amp is a Corda Headsix.

jerry on December 6, 2008 11:56 AM

yeah, where the hell is the ZEN X-Fi?

Adam on December 6, 2008 1:29 PM

Hey, what’s the brand of those earphones on top of the main cowon d2 picture in this post?

warisz00r on December 6, 2008 3:08 PM

Adam: It’s the UE SF5

Fuzzypits on December 6, 2008 3:49 PM

I like this list, although, i think it should be the Fuze rather than the Clip. Of course now i sound like a echo.

Xenodius on December 6, 2008 8:41 PM

Great post… skimming, I certainly agree with your choices.It should say: ‘It is still one of the best sounding MP3 players TO date’, instead of ‘It is still one of the best sounding MP3 players do date’ in the 3rd paragraph from the bottom, regarding the clip…

SansaRulez83 on December 7, 2008 9:28 PM

Great list! I like the pic of the Zunes on the bottom. The bottom 3 look like a cube of neopolitan icecream. :P I disagree with the people that say Creative should be on here. While the Zen was pretty good, reliability is a huge issue with their players and one that’s very important on this list. This list is about features that are important to all listeners, including ease of use, reliability, and the degree to which the product feels like a complete, all-around package. Advertising that you have SD expandibility only to not have full integration is almost false advertising in my eyes.Other than that, I’ve got to say that I have just two players on this list, the Clip and the D2. If this article were purely about performance, I would say the D2 is much better sounding when you factor in it’s sound enhancements. It’s so much more open and articulate than the Clip. I find the soundstage to be lacking in clarity as far as depth is concerned with the Clip. It’s more difficult for me to distinguish instruments on the Clip. It is a double edged sword, though, as I find that the D2 makes tracks that are poorly mixed sound terrible like those from the album The Reason by Hoobastank.All that aside, I can see how you arrived at your placing of the players.One last thing: What player did the Zune 120 replace on the editor’s choice side-bar? For whatever reason I can’t seem to remember it.

maluco on December 8, 2008 5:32 PM

Is the sound quality of the 4Gb sansa clip the same as the 2gb which is described here ?thx

m11 on December 8, 2008 6:20 PM

hi guys maybe it’s too off topic but i need some help. the hdd in my old nw-hd5 finally died, so i’m looking for a new player, preferably the same sound quality and 16gb is minimum. should i stick to sony’s and get the latest one which was recentle reviewed in abi or go for sth completely different like fuze plus microsd card? or should i just wait for a 32gb sony to show up some time next year? thanks

Kqntaetae on December 9, 2008 3:24 AM

D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2D2 Good!

Martin Sägmüller on December 9, 2008 7:00 AM

SansaRulez83, the Ed’s Choice player that got replaced by the Zune was the Toshiba T400 which is discontinued by now.

SansaRulez83 on December 9, 2008 5:28 PM

Thanks Martin. I never really cared for the form factor of that player so that’s prolly why I forgot.Maluco, yeah they have the same SQ. The 4 gig does have a dimmer screen due to the coating on it so I would shell out the extra cash for an 8 gigger if capacity is an issue for you.

maluco on December 10, 2008 10:18 AM

ok. so i think i will buy the 8gb sansa. thx for the help SansaRulez83

marty on December 10, 2008 11:58 PM

So I was searching for information about linking a player up to a car audio system via bluetooth and came across this posting. Anybody know if it is being done?

scoto on December 11, 2008 10:16 AM

Thanks Martin, I’ll check that theme out! I’m going to put you guys on the spot. Out of the top 5, which would win for best sound quality. I know it’s subjective but I have listened extensively to each of these fine daps and this is how I would rank them.1. D22. CLIP3. ZUNE4. P25. SONYThat is using Shure e530 and flat settings. Just curious :) And Martin, did you used to post a lot on the old Cowon forums ? I mean like ages ago.Thanks.

Larry Harrison on December 14, 2008 6:40 PM

I am looking to get a Sansa Clip. It is an intriguing little player. I currently have a SanDisk Sansa e280, but now am having to replace it as it left my hip and crashed/hit the concrete/broke the screen while playing basketball. Hence the need for something like a Clip became painfully obvious.That said, one emerging aspect of these (and other) MP3 players really upsets me–lack of user-replaceable batteries. Except for something like the Clip (where it’s so small it’s hard to imagine how they’d handle it there) I just don’t see why it is that MP3 players don’t allow you to replace the batteries yourself.People scream about propreriatary USB cables (and I agree) but nothing ever is mentioned regarding non-replaceable batteries. To me that’s worse–it’s one thing to not be able to add new songs to your player until you replace the cable (which you can often-times find online for $5-10 anyway), it’s quite another to lose power and not be able to do anything at all whatsoever.Besides that, to me, batteries being user-replaceable is just common proper design for any product, period. Heck, even my $5 Dollar General watch can have its battery replaced, if you dare. The little battery in my cheap digital camera that does nothing more than keep track of the time if the 2 AA batteries are out for more than 5-10 minutes–user-replaceable. The batteries on my Palm Treo and cheap Virgin Mobile phone–again, user-replaceable. Heck the spare batteries for those $20 cordless drills are user-replaceable–and how big of a deal would it be to replace a $20 drill? Replacing an MP3 player and uploading all those songs again would be far more of a task.That is one thing I like about the SanDisk e-series–they let you change the batteries yourself, yet they sure seem to have a nice form factor to them just the same. That is why when I dropped my e280 I replaced it with another one (although again I’m thinking a Clip would be better for those occasions, save the e280 for less rambunctious activities).Heck, this site is entitled “anything but iPod,” and one of the key reasons why I prefer non-Apple MP3 players is, in fact, because of the lack of user-replaceable batteries of all iPods. To me this whole integrated battery design defeats the very reason to be something else besides an iPod in the first place.

bob scott on December 14, 2008 8:11 PM

Just bought an 8 GB Clip at Walmart without having heard anything about it before.$69.88Found the sound quality to be excellent. One Amazon reviewer pointed out reviews on CNET that show it uses an extremely high quality sound chip. I find that it even plays 20KBPS music and audiobooks beatifully.Other reviewers have mentioned that with a firmware update it supports Ogg and Flac, which few other players do.Best thing about this player is that it is so light, and, with the clip, attachable to a shirt, or belt, that I can easily carry it no matter what I am wearing or doing. I have found that the heavier the mp3 player, the less I am apt to carry it arround with me.Sound volume is excellent as well. Will easily drive Sony MD 50 Noise cancellers.GUI excellent. Easy to see, easy to use. Screen blacks out in seconds to save battery.If I had my druthers I’d want this with a AAA or AA batt instead of a non-replaceable Li-ion. And I’d have preferred an SDHC expansion slot. This player has none, and microSD are physically too small for my hands and fingers.Other, unusual to find, pluses are:very good incremental fast forward.. goes faster the longer you hold it down..bookmarking..and speed change so that you can increase the speed of playback for an audiobook without making the narrator sound like a chipmunk reading it.The voice recording quality is top notch as well..Price aside, I was bowled over by this little player, and suspect it will be the one I now use the most.

Mikey on December 15, 2008 12:56 PM

@Larry Harrison, couldn’t agree more with those sentiments re: replaceable batteries.With these observations in mind, can anyone recommend an mp3 player which utilises replaceable batteries and has decent audio performance and features?

wilson on December 16, 2008 10:41 PM

Honestly the Zune is overrated. It’s a better piece of hardware than the ipod because it has more features, but the software plainly sucks. First I do not understand why no one mentioned it has no support for Asian characters in the review, AT ALL. Second, the Zune software is simply a pain to use, typical MS software. Those who are protective of their Zune may argue that they can put up with the crappy software they bundle with the Zune, but seriously, you know it sucks.

Eskil on December 18, 2008 11:48 AM

Oh no, my no name china mp3 player is not included. Luckily enough I have a really bad set of ears. :)

Watts on December 18, 2008 8:53 PM

It’s sad to see Creative ignoring the community, while Sansa and the others are leapfrogging over them. I had a MuVo and more recently a Zen Stone Plus. I loved them both, despite the ungodly slow user interface on the Stone. I still think it sounds better than the similar Clip, and in mass storage mode, the Clip has a very cluttered mess of files/folders in its memory. If Creative would update the Stone Plus with a brighter screen (like the Clip), faster response, and 4-8 GB, I’d be all over it. As it stands, looks like they’re abandoning it. It’s hard to find a USB drive/MP3/radio player with simple, clean, drag/drop anymore. I can’t be the only one who feels this way!

Bruce on December 21, 2008 7:37 AM

Larry Harrison,No user-replaceable batteries, no sale here.I love and still use Hi-MD (new revision of MiniDisc) Walkmans, for their sound, native gaplessness, removable media and batteries, great remote controls and great professional quality recordings (low noise mic preamps, low noise line input, optical input, usb too).1GB per disc, far slower than flash drives when copying stuff to them, no fancy displays on unit, proprietary software required to transfer content to them if transferring from USB, but I wouldn’t swap them for anything on the market now.

Denox on December 21, 2008 10:39 PM

What is the best sounding MP3 on the martket?I owned iriver H120, H30, any generation of ipods (inc touch)and so far meizu M6 is the best.Fortunately :) my M6 started acting up yesterday.So I need to get new one now.

sahilk on December 24, 2008 9:32 PM

glad to see the Sony Walkman A720 made it.but would take iPod Touch anyday over any mp3 player due to features

Josh on December 25, 2008 9:56 PM

would a samsung p2 at $117 CAD ($96 USD) after tax be a good deal?i have a sansa fuze, but am considering returning the fuze and buying the p2 instead.thanks. XD

Eric on December 26, 2008 10:36 PM


Thorsten on December 27, 2008 8:03 AM

Why no iPod ? Well, have a look at the name of this site :-)

steve on December 30, 2008 12:20 PM

I received a fuze for christmas. the sound quality was suspect. It had an echo sound like you where in a cave. also the headphones would not stay connected like it had a permanent short in the headphone connector. headphones had on and off static. build quality seemed nice other than headphone static. returned it and got an 8 gb clip from walmart for 69 dollars (same price as payed for fuze-black friday best buy deal). more than happy with clip. it plays louder and sounds punchier than the fuze. alot cleaner sound than the fuze also. the logic does not make sense to me. maybe I had a defective player. it does have pluses over the fuze though. smaller, mini usb,sounds better, less moving parts(no spinning control wheel). I did ditch the stock headphones for 20 dollar skullcandy. all i miss is the ability to add memory and video. Ill get a large capacity zune for video maybe. clip is awesome for music. like the podcast and book feature. just havent used for that yet. hope this helps. rock on.

Bingzhong on December 30, 2008 1:48 PM

> EricREALLY?Were you high and retarded or just retarded for writing that? Have you lost your eyeballs for not reading the name of this site?This site is for people who want to think outside the pod. Apple has one of the WORST quality audios in the market. The players above are the best-audio and video quality. Not to mention the price for them, its well worth the money.If your here just to rant about your dumb iSomething, you can just die for the rest of us. :D The touch, I must admit, is neat. But its overlooked as “the best player”. But its just the name and soo much positive feedbacks on it that makes it sound soo great. Yes, it maybe a user-friendly player, but if you were buying it for audio-quality, your pooped outta luck.The P2 is GOD compared to all of those. And seriously, the Clip as #1?! WTF?!

chaosdivine on December 31, 2008 9:57 AM

I hope all you 30 GB Zuner’z have backup plans for your PMP’s today…apparently as of Dec 30 at Midnight your player committed Zunicide…(a.k.a. BRICKED ITSELF!) or so I have read on Engadget. I pity you…now you feel sort of screwed like us Zen owners. Actually I felt screwed by Microsoft after buying networking hardware that they suddenly EOL’ed but that’s a completely different forum topic.Ah well at least I don’t feel alone now…

Kurt Langland on December 31, 2008 2:44 PM

I ran across this list. I suppose that the list if forced to ignore apple products? My son has an ipod touch and I’ve been really impressed with its ability to download apps, surf the web and a myriad of other functions. You may not like apple products but I would think that it certainly falls within the top 5 players.

Martin Sägmüller on January 1, 2009 1:24 PM

Kurt, did you notice the name of this website?

Jacob on January 2, 2009 1:11 PM

I’m heasitating choosing between P2 and Sony A. I had Samsung T10 before and it was pretty solid and decent player, entirely matching my needs. Now, extra additional features like bluetooth etc. are rather irrelevant, considering purely sound quality and clarity, battery life etc. – which of those two falls better?

a on January 6, 2009 12:16 AM

What a great budget player. Only $40 plus $800 worth of accessories to get some great sound! You know, in case you don’t want to get your $150 player stolen. Logic.

paulr on January 8, 2009 12:08 AM

You can usually replace the internal batteries of closed players if you are determined enough, but yeah, I hate them too, and wish there were some good AA or AAA powered players. I loved my Sansa M260 (powered by one AAA) and wish there were higher capacity versions. These days I have a D2 and it seems to me that when the battery craps out, I should be able to solder in a Nokia BP-4L cellular phone battery. What a pain in the butt though.

Katlan on January 27, 2009 1:32 AM

I am a zune owner and i gotta say im surprised at the anti-zune sentiments! first off, everyone makes the mistake of pairing zune with microsoft, and although that seems like a duh, its not. zune is unlike anything else made by microsoft. simple, unique, customizable, and packed with features. normally microsoft goes feature crazy and screws the rest up. but the zune works seamlessly with the AWESOME zune software, the marketplace subscription is a steal, and as stated before its hardware is excelent. jus thought id rep up the zune a bit… havent tried the other players on this list but im seriously speachless to see something made by sansa got #1… maybe if we take price into tooo much consideration i cud see why, but its features slack considerably in comparison to…say… the zune! buut havent heard it so im not a fair judge. anyways, despite lack of answers to rumors, im excited for what zune has in store!

Leo on February 3, 2009 12:39 PM

Any recommendations for an mp3 player that uses AAA batteries? I do some mountaineering and don’t have the ability to “recharge” when out for 2-3 days.Thanks for any suggestions

JYH on February 8, 2009 9:51 AM

To Leo:The iRiver T60 use one AAA-batteri.Video:

Ana on February 9, 2009 6:24 PM

I’m a bit puzzled… is that a purple clip in the last image? Because I searched the net for one and I couldn’t find one…

Wayne on February 16, 2009 1:06 AM

Picked up the 8GB version on sale at WalMart today for $49! Can’t beat that. Have the V-moda bass freq’s on order from amazon.

your mom on February 17, 2009 10:48 AM

you guys are nerds and it sounds like you dont have a life but yall have great ideas

aaaron on February 27, 2009 3:56 PM

LOL:0 the ipod didnt even make the top 5!!GO ZUNNE

Guiermo on March 22, 2009 6:44 AM

AccordingSansa Fuze ® + Sennheiser ® + Hardstyle = ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥Sandisk makes it very good, low cost, high performanceso farSANSA RULES: D!

JoseG on March 23, 2009 5:21 AM

I finally bought a Sansa Clip for $20 to see what the fuss is about. I have to say it boosts bass very well if you have some good earphones that can handle it. I believe it boosts at around 50hz. That’s better than the expensive players that claim to boost bass but sound centered at 100hz(midbass). Overall low volume output in my opinion of about 10mW or less per ear. It has very good stereo separation even if using basic buds. BUT….I feel everyone is being fooled by “quality sound” because I hear the effect of SRS Wow on this player! Could it be that it is there without our knowledge and against our will? I do not hear ruler flat sound even with the EQ off. It is very 3D enhanced. I think we’ve all been fooled. For the record my favorite player is still the Mpio ONE.And for earphones I have the Monster Turbine and some very very nice Skull Candy Titans(AWESOME BASS and TREBLE).

anl on March 29, 2009 12:06 AM

wow the yp-t10 is awsome with all its special features i mean i die for that thing but not really thats just how cool it is hey every one get one of these the totaly cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool

Judge Buff on May 14, 2009 12:02 PM

You Zune h8rs are clueless.My old 30GB is still rocking hard with a Fiio E5 clipped to its skin. A Sound Magic PL-30 is my current IEM of choice.Is any hardware/software combo perfect? No! Is this a great mix of hardware at a budget price? You bet it is!Don’t knock it if you don’t use it on a daily basis, because you don’t know what you are talking about.

EntireStore on May 14, 2009 3:58 PM

I think the best design goes to Sony Mp3 Player.It looks really beautiful.I like most of Sony and Sony Ericsson designs.But Sandisk Sansa mp3 player’s sound really impressive for its price!

Gregg on August 11, 2009 3:36 PM

Thanks! I bought a Clip for my wife, she loves it!!4GB – $55CDN.

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alberttruchi on February 19, 2010 7:04 AM

Is the sound quality of the 4Gb sansa clip the same as the 2gb which is described here ?

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