Top 5 MP3 Players of 2009

top 5 2009 Top 5 MP3 Players of 2009

It’s that time of year when we lay out our top picks for the year. 2009 was the year of the touch player- consumers demanded them and manufactures responded. If you notice that this year’s list resembles last years and that’s because many of the manufacture’s this year made some awesome incremental improvements in their current line of players. Without spoiling anything else, read on for this year’s top 5 list.

#5: Sony Walkman X-1000

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The Sony would have been higher on the list, but the cost of the player is at the highest end of the spectrum of any MP3 player. The 16GB version debuted at $300 and the 32GB at $400 about $100 more than its competition! Its price has dropped 20-30% as of Christmas ‘09 but still remains at the top in terms of price.

Even though I think the price is a bit high you are getting a lot of player for that price with features like a web browser, Youtube app, and internet streaming though Slacker Radio. The feature set is something that rivals Microsoft’s Zune- in fact we might call the Sony X Series a more open Zune not being tied to one piece of software.

Build quality top notch and similar to Sony’s A series of Walkman’s with a beautiful OLED screen. The textured side paint job and metal skeleton give the player a substantial rock like feel, grounding it steadfast in your hand.

The user interface makes the player very approachable and easy to dive right into your music collection. The touch screen sensitivity is one of the best I have seen on any device with the Zune being the only other this ultra-responsiveness class.

The feature that I think hurt this player was the built in noise cancellation. While it did work well, not many people cared to have that feature and it ultimately drove up the cost of the player. Really, price is what the X-series centers around. It is one of the best players, but is the worst in terms of bang for the buck.

Sony X-Series Review | Sony X-Series Forum | Check Latest Prices US (UK)

#4: Microsoft Zune HD

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The Zune HD is a beautiful player though and though. An unbelievable attention was paid to every detail of the player. As a geek who likes to take apart players and look at the insides I was impressed with even the care that was taken to lay out the internal components- something that’s worthy of being framed and hung on the wall.

The attention to detail permeates to the other aspects of the player especially in the user interface. The subtle 3D UI is as smooth as they get thanks to Nvidia’s tiny and powerful Tegra chip. This becomes more impressive when you fire up one of the few available 3D games that match or beat other portable gaming devices.

The Zune HD is no doubt an impressive device but the reason we cannot place the device higher in the list is due to its ecosystem tie in with software and services. This is not necessarily a downside to most consumers since it does created a more refined experience, but here at ABI we have always been champions of choice in formats, software, and operation system.

There are many other features and aspects of the Zune such as applications and streaming music though the monthly Zune pass that is hard to squeeze into this top 5 list, so if you are interested read more about it in the Zune HD review or check out the latest price on Amazon. Zune HD Forum

#3: Cowon iAudio S9

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Cowon has a place in audiophile’s hearts for its pedigree of great sound quality and highly adjustable sound settings. The S9 keeps with this theme but starts to show that Cowon is paying a bit more attention to design and user interface. This starts to become even more apparent in the recent i9. The S9 receives a place on the list right below the P3 because the UI still has some ways to go and it is lacking h.264 support comparatively but still does a better job in terms of sound quality.

The build quality is solid but a little on the light side but housed in this player is a gorgeous AMOLED screen putting it in the same class as the Sony X-Series and the Zune HD. The UI will take some time to wrap your head around but we really like that Cowon deciding to include tactile buttons for volume, track selection, and pause/play.

The S9 is a bit more complex and is more suited for the audio and gadget geek, but that’s why we like it. It is a very functional and very hackable player deserving a place on the list.

Cowon S9 Review | Cowon S9 Forum | UK)

#2: Samsung P3

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The P2 was a hit and here is example of a company that directly learns and builds upon what they learned from their previous products. They may not be as directly involved collecting user feedback as Microsoft, Cowon and SanDisk do, Samsung takes more of a “lurk and learn” approach taking much feedback from users on our Samsung forums. The P3 is definitely deserving of the +1 compared to the P2. Build quality has been improved along with UI responsiveness and a lot of little UI improvements and fixes here in there.

The reason the P3 is at the number two spot on the list is like the S9 it is very customizable but feels more refined compared to the Cowon S9 and is more flexible in video formats. This is where the P3 really shines- playing back most formats without having to spend hours converting video. Drag and drop and you’re ready to watch.

Additionally, Samsung nailed the Bluetooth support for the P3. Not much different from the P2 but fixes a lot of connectivity issues. The big story here is being able to tether your P3 to your phone to make and receive calls, transfer files, and use Bluetooth audio headphones.

There are loads of features on the P3 and it is very reasonably priced (UK) and would be first on our touch screen bang for the buck list. Read more about all these features in the P3 review, but also be sure to check out the P3 user community in the forums for lots of great tips on getting the most out of this player. The ABI Samsung forums are the biggest on the net.

#1: SanDisk Sansa Clip+

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Yes we all still love the Clip and were totally thrilled that SanDisk produced a second generation. The Sansa Clip+ is a spitting image of predecessor, but with more refinement across the board in build quality, features, and user interface.

The killer feature however is the addition of a microSD slot- something that we wanted from day one of the first generation Clip’s release. Why this is awesome is now you can add a 16GB (and future 32GB) microSD card for a total of 24GB giving the Clip+ the best size to capacity ratio.

The Clip+ is a no-nonsense player, very predictable and easy to use. It is a player I recommend to anyone who has never owned an MP3 player before, but the Clip+ also appeals to the polar opposite of the spectrum being a must own backup player for even the most season MP3 player users. It’s highly regarded in this crowd due to the feature set, file support, and top end sound quality all at a dirt cheap price. So even if you do own another feature filled player we still recommend picking one of these micro wonders up.

Sansa Clip+ Review | Sansa Clip+ Forum | Check Latest Prices US (UK)

The Year 2010

In 2010 we will see more touch screen based players with extended features like web browsers and streaming radio. HD video will also start to take center stage for more of the video based player, they will be nice accessories for connecting via HDMI TV on the go. We will also see manufactures put more emphasis in the build quality, sound quality, and design as the cost of components drops. The device line up in 2009 was hurt a little by the recession, but we should expect business as usually in 2010.


Yazad on December 14, 2009 1:37 PM

i think this is a very good list and it makes me happy to know that the P3 is 2nd because i am getting one this christmas. :D can’t wait!Thanks for the list grahm skee

AdcL on December 14, 2009 1:44 PM

Read thru everything , have to say , awesome , awesome review. Just a little bit of details lacking in the Zune section about the app stores and whatnot. I think that’s what really brings out the HD. I myself being a P3 owner , feel that the Zune should take 2nd instead of 3rd , whilst the S9 and x1k remain below the P3. The HD really deserves more credit , with all the on going firmware updates and the uprising appstore.The P3′s firmware updates , on the other hand , have died. (=[) Having a browser is not a must per se , but it is a treat to have on a player , and it’s something the P3 nor the S9 can do , which I think is the main feature of the HD.

Lebowski on December 14, 2009 3:00 PM

hey…i’m missing the actual iPod touch on this list of iPod wannabes. and I’m by no means an apple fan boys – quite the contrary, i hate the brand with passion, and i’ve been resisting the iPod hoping something comparable or better would come along. but nothing has.consider your own list: starting with Sony. “Insanely overpriced” has always been the apple domain, until Sony starting selling PMPs. I mean 400 dollars for that 32GB tictac box, are they crazy? Who do they think they are – Apple?Zune HD: everything, and i mean everything that’s a downside of an Ipod is present in Zune, except there’s not nearly enough of the good stuff to balance it out. It seems to me most of the Zune HD praise is based simply on the mere fact of it not being an iPod. how pathetic is that?Cowon: brick. next!Samsung: call me when this company starts spending at least the same money on engineers as it does on designers.Sansa: san-what?I think this website is more of a tribute to an ipod than any other real fansite. this list here is a tribute in itself.

DamnMan on December 14, 2009 3:29 PM

I don’t think the clip+ deserves number 1. It still has bugs, battery issues, and yet-to have features.

Leenippsound on December 14, 2009 3:46 PM

Lebowski dude, you give yourself away. also…..relax. one trend i would love to see in the next year would be customizable front ends in player menus, al-la the creative zen. i love these new players but menu clutter is a real problem.

DaHarder on December 14, 2009 4:25 PM

Undoubtedly all great players (all of which I currently own), but seriously – The Finishing Order Is Nothing Short of Preposterous – IMO

The Clip+ on December 14, 2009 4:27 PM

The Clip+ is a nice Player.But the Battery life is crap 4-5 hours in radio mode. I gave my clip+ back to amazon.

Mohammed Ali on December 14, 2009 4:58 PM

i was surprised, shocked, and impressed at the same time by this list, i completely agree with you guys, and i think i might buy all five of those starting with the top two

Xenodius on December 14, 2009 5:20 PM

I love my Clip+ so much I built them onto my headphones. Check out Affixing a Clip+ to HFI-780 in the Headphones board. I charge them every night on a hook-stand, since they usually run about halfway dry on a given day. The sound quality definitely does the HFI-780′s justice, especially for portable use.Lebowsi… don’t flamebait, post real reasons for disliking these players, if you have any. “Sans-what?” is not a good comeback.

The Real Dude on December 14, 2009 5:30 PM

Lebowski, apart from not being the real lebowski, is a major Ipod Crapple head and looooves his sucky piece of metal made for the mass.You’re erroneous on all counts, all of ‘em. Back up your little opinions with argumentation, man, next time. Now shoo.

Confispect on December 14, 2009 5:37 PM

Hello all, for the majority part I agree with the list but what about the S9, P3 part am I the only one that feels there should be a switch. P3 rates above because of a couple of codes, as well as a more refined feel. Maybe my opinion is backward I don’t know you tell me.

Ravagence on December 14, 2009 5:40 PM

@Lebowski,You suck. Go make your own top 5 mp3 players of 2009. Thanks for listening.

Justin on December 14, 2009 5:45 PM

“The Zune HD is a beautiful player through and through.”Nice review, although I find it a little odd that you ranked the P3 higher than the S9 due to video and not audio…the title lead me to believe that the review would be more tailored for audio and not video / PMP.Nice to the see the Clip still at the top though, hard to beat it, especially with a tight wallet.

confispect on December 14, 2009 6:49 PM

I agree with Justin.

Cory on December 14, 2009 6:53 PM

Well first off I think that the Zune HD X-series, and the P3 should be ranked 1, 2 , and 3 not because of their prices, but because of their quality and features.The X-series and HD both have wireless streaming and wifi, also the X-series also has youtube in it as well. The P3 is very customizable and has alot of codec support for its price not to mention bluetooth. Ipod lovers take a hike!!! That includes you Leenippsound!!!!Ive been wanting a HD for a while now and my mom thinks that somehow the Touch is better??????????(Shes the one whos going to buy the HD for christmas). I myself have been an ipod hater for a few years(I just don’t see the point in them, their just another mp3 brand that comes from a computer company)

MrWafflesMonster on December 14, 2009 6:54 PM

Lebowski, as far as a 32gb tic tac box goes, i don’t think that tic tac boxes come with noise cancellation and premium headphones and superior sound quality to the ipod touch.Why are you calling the S9 a brick? Does any ipod model support anywhere near the number of video and audio formats available on the s9, or have such a good looking screen, no? I thought so..Also how is it a ‘brick’? It is actually rather slimYou offer no aguments as to why the clip is a supposedly bad playerIt actually has a screen (unlike the ipod shuffle), proper controls (unlike the ipod shuffle), a radio (unlike the shuffle), great audio quality (unlike the ipod shuffle), custom and preset e.q (unlike the ipod shuffle), oh AND expandable memory-unlike the shuffleyou obviously know little about pmp’s perhaps you should head off to an apple fansite

Cory on December 14, 2009 7:38 PM

hey guys you think that my mom is wrong about the touch being better than the HD, I sure know so plus she hasn’t used an mp3 player in years, only thing she rarely listens to is a creative zen nanoplus and im stuck with a sansa m250(which i got for free) until I cant get a zune HD, maybe the X-series will be my next option

Big B on December 14, 2009 7:59 PM

Love this site but massive price differences between countries make this list invalid for UK users i feel:- 32gb X, £150 (sony cashback)- 32gb P3, £155 (play has no stock)- 32gb S9, £200+ (advancedmp3)- HD, neither sold nor properly supported hereSo, presumably the X clear winner in the UK?(let’s forget the clip+ which is a different class of mp3)

Coolvibes on December 14, 2009 8:05 PM

Where is M1?I got a M1 since it was better then P3I am surprised not to see M1 on the listit should have been Nr.1 or atleast nr2

kiyu727 on December 14, 2009 8:56 PM

heh, I never liked the sansa clip and yet its on place 1 again. geez …

Mumrik on December 14, 2009 10:43 PM

I believe the Cowon S9 gained h.264 support through firmware updates..?

feeldalove on December 14, 2009 10:55 PM

MrWafflesMonster:Well, in terms of “bang for the buck” (at least in the US), X series can be argued to be a tic tac box when compared to some of the more leniently priced PMPs that perform more tasks.And does S9 support nearly as many apps and gadgets as the Touch? Does the Touch have nearly as many bugs and annoyances as the S9 (or Cowon PMPs in general)? I do not know if you have seen a S9 in real life, but the thickness is particularly accentuated by the silver sides, especially when the player is sitting on a darker surface like that of a table. (If you insist on cold hard numbers then I can tell you that S9 is ~20% thicker than the P3 and the X, both of which are 10.2 mm in thickness. As a comparison Zune is 8.7 and Touch is 8.5.)And the flip side for the clip is that it lacks noise cancellations, premium headphones, good looking screens, etc., all of which you have sited in defense of other players. Besides, why are you comparing the clip to the shuffle? Apparently, as per the rankings, the clip is at least as good, if not better, than the awesome state-of-the-art touch screen gadgets of 2009. Try comparing it to the Touch and see what you can come up with.It is certain that the official ranks and the bickering of us commentators are based more or less on ad hoc criteria. But really, as a relative comparison, your comments are in no way more grounded that of Lebowski. Perhaps before jumping in at pointing out others’ weaknesses you would take care to better conceal yours next time.

MrWafflesMonster on December 14, 2009 11:24 PM

feeldalove, are you really asking me why i would compare the clip to the shuffle?Let’s see, maybe because it is aimed at the more basic end of the mp3 player market, and has plenty of features which the shuffle does not have. Also Lebowski seems to be a bit of an ipod fanboy so i was merely comparing it to something in the same PRICE RANGE, which is why i would not compare it to the touch, i thought anyone could see how it is unfair to compare a much more expensive device like the touch to a cheaper player like the clip. As far as the rankings go, they are not saying that the clip beats touch screen players, they are just saying when taking into account value and features it is very competitive IN IT’S PRICE RANGE, of course it cannot beat the touch for obvious reasons.”Perhaps before jumping in at pointing out others’ weaknesses you would take care to better conceal yours next time”-Maybe you should take your own advice?

tstep182 on December 14, 2009 11:53 PM

Wow, I’m shocked that the Clip+ is #1. In my opinion, the widely reported battery problem should have disqualified it from consideration. I’ll bet the Clip+ has more disgruntled buyers than the other four players combined.

mtnmedic on December 15, 2009 4:06 AM

Hey lebowski…The reason why you see no discussion of any iPod Touch on that list or anywhere else here is because…(get ready for it)…this site is called “anythingbutipod”.Oh wait…I know what the problem is. Your tiny little brain can’t figure out what that translates into. Here, let me help you:Anything….But…Ipod.Got it? Good.Now, may I suggest you please take your stupid little issues out of here and to a nice Ipod site where someone actually gives a crap?Feel free to slam the door behind you.

Kiril on December 15, 2009 5:39 AM

Clip+ – Integrated Wonder!For anyone who takes regular audio notes, personal/professional/educational, I highly recommend the Clip+. I had been searching for 2 years for a device that could be operated with minimal effort to enable me to take audio notes spontaneously. Also to be able to listen to lectures(+TTS transcriptions) while moving about and record corresponding notes – easily skipping between lectures and recording with minimal effort. The Clip+ fulfills these requirements by including a clip which makes the device wearable, therefore easy to access and not obstructive as when hanging from a lanyard around ones neck or wrist. It allows very high quality recording, only very slightly below the recording quality of sennheiser microphones 10 times its price(personally tested). Its highly responsive tactile buttons and cleverly programmed navigation system: this last is most important because, unlike a ‘touch’(vs press) based navigation(screen or touch activated eg Samsung T10,..) you know immediately and absolutely that the instruction you’ve given the device is enacted and with this certainty remember sequences of buttons which activate certain functions, quickly.For example :3 down 2 center – Record mode3 center exit record mode and save recording.1 down 1 up 1 center – record while in radio mode.With very little practice these key combination become automatic and take little more time then would take if one were to press a dedicated button for said functions functions. And once again, because it is tactile(one can feel the action of the buttons, as on a keyboard) this can all be done without direct observation of the device, while moving about!You just need to fix the periodic clicking noises during recording Sansa!

Dionamuh on December 15, 2009 6:08 AM

Can’t wait to get my hands on a Clip+, although I’m still perfectly happy with my Clip. Great little players. Go Clip!

whitenoise on December 15, 2009 7:00 AM

I agree with Justin as well, in my opinion the Cowon S9 should be ranked #2 if not #1. Due to as mentioned (in article and by Justin) the better sound quality. It’s an mp3 player after all. Furthermore the S9 has a better screen than the P3 and has an amazing battery life.

Shadow D on December 15, 2009 8:27 AM

Great review. I personally own a 32GB Sony X-Series player and I totally agree, the price was ridiculous (almost 300 USD) but the player is such a pleasure to use. It was a pain to figure out how to best encode video for it and how to best use lossless audio on it, but once you do, man, this player beats the competition hands down. And the the built-in digital noise cancelling just cements it’s place at the top.

H3O on December 15, 2009 9:23 AM

Gapless > h.264 supportHence, S9 > P3

Dionamuh on December 15, 2009 9:44 AM

@whitenoise,It really depends on what you want in a music player. All the other players are fairly big, with nice colour screens. However, I don’t need I nice colour screen on my mobile music player. I want it to be small and light. Cowon makes great devices as well, but the Clip just offers a lot for little.I think the Clip(+) is still a rather unknown and underrated mp3-player, so it’s good to see it at the top of the list.

gameboy115 on December 15, 2009 11:23 AM

Does it mean clip has the best SQ among all players in this list?I don’t really care how user friendly its interface is. I mean is it SQ comparable to S9, X series?????I really doubt….lol

chris^2 on December 15, 2009 1:45 PM

No iRiver? I’m in for E30.

Rune on December 15, 2009 2:21 PM

I bought my Cowon s9 after reading about it here on the site, and i can only say i am very pleased with it.It drives my hd 600 (unamped) suprisingly good. I made a little comparison cowon s9 vs the p3 one of my friends have and unamped the s9 actually sounded noticeable better.But by surprisingly good i mean good after what i expected and therefore i am also ordering a mini3 amp now, which i have great expectations for.

triarii117 on December 15, 2009 4:25 PM

going to get all of these (save for the zune)

aki on December 15, 2009 5:22 PM

It seems this list has been made by a kid. Cowon S9 on 3 because UI is lacking? You can choose which of the 100 you want and some of them you can customize to your own liking-fully. Clip v2 is just an update of the clip, nothing new. The p3 has always been the inferior player of most, the Cowon S9 should be 2nd or 1st.

guy on December 15, 2009 5:36 PM

Am I the only one that notices the typos?In the Zune HD section, first paragraph end of the first sentence, it says “though and though” rather than through and through.At the end of the third paragraph, we have “operation system” instead of operating system.I don’t see any more typos, but that could be my brain blocking them out…..In any case, great write up! I wish i had money to blow on a new dap. :D

Squargle on December 15, 2009 5:43 PM

Its quite interesting how only one of these devices is, in a stricter sense, considered an mp3 player; the rest better described as portable media players.

temp on December 15, 2009 6:31 PM

i just knew the clip was going to be #1plus, digg it!

Relyt on December 15, 2009 6:33 PM

Agree with AdcL (top) – P3 and ZHD are both really great players. Getting a ZHD for Christmas – and although it might sound crazy one of the main features that pushed the ZHD over the P3 (I was originally going to get a P3) was the HD Radio. I listen to radio a lot and so the HD Radio is a huge plus. Overall, I agree with this list – more than last year’s. 2009 was a great year in MP3 players (although iriver was non existent because of their immersion in the budget market and I believe within the next couple of years iriver will shrink by a lot. I still like their design but now mintpass is taking their place….)

Shifterfire (Raoul) on December 15, 2009 6:58 PM

First if all, this list is someone’s opinion, not an absolute truth or fact.Second, the S9 is more expensive than the P3 and so should be better in sound quality otherwise it would a kind of sad. And there are some other differences.(which I will not be adressing, in fear of lying)If the iPod’fans’ would be so nice to go to a dark corner, preferably with their iPod’s till the battery goes dry (I hope it takes some time)@ Coolvibes: Where did you get your M1? I am still waiting with high hopes for the thing to show up.

Joe Bish on December 15, 2009 9:14 PM

Just picked up the Clip+, everything is awesome except the battery life when playing FLAC files – of course, other players don’t even play FLAC so I shouldn’t be complaining…

Newzild on December 16, 2009 2:24 AM

Here in Korea, the S9 32GB is US$250, the Samsung P3 32GB is US$270 and the iPod Touch 32GB is US$370. So the economics seem to vary quite a bit country-by-country.

Newzild on December 16, 2009 2:31 AM

…a good list, by the way. I’m not so keen on the Clip+ battery life situation, but have told the missus I want a Fuze 8GB for Christmas.How does the sound quality differ between the Fuze and Clip+?

BlueSeedStorm on December 16, 2009 5:25 AM

A great range on iPod and MP3 players

Pete on December 16, 2009 7:03 AM

The list looks pretty good to me… but I think the S9 should be #2. The only drawbacks are that it’s expencive and kinda big for an mp3 player.

Big Bear on December 16, 2009 8:15 AM

You know, I knew even before I read the article that the Clip+ would be first, since the Clip won last year…I’m surprised, though, that the ZuneHD wasn’t 2nd…You know, with all us abi fans angry at Lebowski, telling him to go to apple fnsites, we forgot that way back in his post he clearly said that he hated apple, so he won’t go to apple fansites!@ Feedalove,I really want to compare the touch to the Clip!In the box: Of course, here the touch wins, since it has apple stickers!Design/Build:Here the 2 players have a solid design.I have to give to the clip koodos for the addition of a clip, just ingenious! The volume buttons are much easier to press on the Clip+.The touch has that -beautiful for one day- scratchable metal back, and a front that will break completely if you drop the device (glass). Bad apple!Firmware:The touch has always stayed the same, but it is good, so no complaints.The firmware for the clip+ is also good for what it is capable of doing, and fits some visual in the underpowered device. The two are wonderful for non technology friendly people, and so I give a tie here.Transferring Media: Touch=ItunesClip+ = Windows, Mac, Linux with MSC and MTP. Clip+ wins.Features:Clip+:Radio, recording, radio recording, hum, backlight settings…But just you wait ’til the Clip+ gets Rockbox! Then that smallish thing will get a mouthful of apps and games, all for free!Also, let me see thou add 16gb to a touchvia microsd. You do realize that a 24gb Clip+ will still cost less that a 8gb touch, do you?Touch: I am not going there, wayyyy too much stuff to cover.I give the touch the edge here, even though the Clip+ still holds strong.Audio: The Clip+ is top-of-the-notch SQ, the Touch is not. And the clip+ supports so much more formats!Battery Life: Here ya go touch, I made a category so you could win again. But add a external battery to the clip+ and it will go on and will still be smaller than a touch!Conclusion:Either I don’t like the touch or the Clip+ is that good in every category!And don’t start comparing prices!Hope this -unbiaised ;) – comparaison made you laugh!

hisui on December 16, 2009 10:57 AM

i’ve been waiting for this list for some time now. great list ABI! :) @big bear: that comparison was fair enough, and very funny at that! LoL!it’s good to see my baby X up there on the list. I got it just last week. I still for the life of me cant convert a single video, but the SQ (paired w/ my cx300II or ie7) is EARgasmic! except for the native video format support, the X is really worth the price, I must say. I’d still like to get my hands on the P3 (used to be a P2 owner) and the S9 though. and i’m really considering the clip+ right now.

Lebowski on December 16, 2009 1:13 PM

seriously you all are pathetic. why support these ipod wannabes when you can have the real thing? you guys hate ipods and obsess over crappy products just because you hate apple. try actually owning an ipod and i bet youll change your mind about them. why? theyre the best for number of reasons.they are great size and design.they have the best featureswith good headphones they sound the bestyou pay for qualitynot like all these cheap mp3 players. look at the back of them. i can guarantee you they are made in some cheap factory somewhere in asia. when you look at the back of an ipod, you see “made in california”thats how you know its good quality.

tveita on December 16, 2009 2:45 PM

So you mark down the Sony because of its cost – in dollars – but you don’t meniton the not unimportant fact that the Zune is only available in the US – in dollars.Some people don’t actually live in the USA. Try remembering that.

Leon on December 16, 2009 4:43 PM

Fairly good list.Although this is “Anythingbutipod” I would have to rate the ipod touch 2nd gen higher than Sony X slightly because of the apps and better price. To the general non audiophile community, ipod touch sounds great and has plenty apps. The apps alone make the device worth a lot, definitely more than the zune hd. But we can’t give ipod any pub here for good reason I suppose.It’s hard to rate the P3 over the s9 since s9 has gapless playback, amoled screen, and sounds nearly as good. P3′s more choice of codecs, slightly better sound, and gui may or may not edge those things out. Amoled and gapless alone had me sold over the P3.The clip’s flaw (a big one to me) is that it doesn’t have a good bass boost feature and a decent eq (I can be wrong here though). Other than that it is great.With the exception of being only 16gb with a poor screen for videos I think the Sony nwz-s545 is awesome. It sounds as good as the Sony X (has massive soundstage) with voice record, radio record, speakers, and gapless playback. It may or may not deserve a place in the top 5 but it’s my number 1 right now (other than Ipod touch).

jolmer on December 16, 2009 5:34 PM

wow this list is horrible. why in the world is the clip at first place? for starters 40% of the ones bought anywhere cant even power up properly without returning them, they have crappy battery life, and no features. whats with the writes creating these laughable articles? why cant abi mention quality products such as the ipod shuffle instead. i know its anythingbutipod but isnt this site for all mp3 players and not apple? that doesnt mean you cant include apple does it?

Robert on December 16, 2009 5:45 PM

Are you guys at ABI smoking something?The Cowon S9 has had excellent H.264 video support since two firmware updates ago along with AC3 audio playback. It also plays back mp3s in perfect gapless. And let’s not even mention the hands down superiority of the S9′s audio quality, it’s beautiful AMOLED screen or the approximately 20% additional battery life that the S9 offers. Based on these observations alone, there is no doubt that the Cowon S9 is a superior media player compared to the Samsung P3.I like ABI a lot, but if you ever want to be taken seriously as an authority on DAPs, at least pretend to keep up to date with them.

Robert on December 16, 2009 6:06 PM

Dear Lebowski,I don’t want an iPod and own a Cowon S9 for the following reasons:1. iPods have inferior audio quality compared to my S9. It’s not even close.2. iPods have no on-the-fly adjustable equalizer. Lets not even mention the BBE settings the S9 has.3. iPods have inferior final output power4. to load an iPod, one must use itunes, whereas I can just drag and drop tunes or vids from any computer, no software installation required.5. iPods have limited audio/video format support in comparison to my S9.6. iPods have an inferior LCD screen compared with what is the best available AMOLED screen behind protective Corning Gorilla Glass that the S9 sports.7. I easily get 45+ hours of audio playback on my S9 on a single charge. iPod battery life is laughable.8. I like having dedicated, easy to adjust volume and track skip/ff/rw buttons that I don’t have to look at to use.What would possibly make me (a smart person with a genius IQ) want to own an iPod which was designed for the dumb, unwashed, mouth-breathing masses like yourself?

Robert on December 16, 2009 6:08 PM

And Lebowski, iPods are made in China, not California. Maybe learn how to read?

Leon on December 16, 2009 7:20 PM

To Robert,You said the following;”The Cowon S9 has had excellent H.264 video support since two firmware updates ago along with AC3 audio playback.”The Cowon S9 has limited H.264 support. Unless you are saying that it can now play higher than 480×272 resolution h.264 files . Are you?You also said:”And let’s not even mention the hands down superiority of the S9′s audio quality”The P3 sounds better or at least equal to the S9 (when the right settings for the S9 are found).

WHY on December 16, 2009 7:40 PM

ABI should review phones (for their music).

bill r on December 16, 2009 8:32 PM

I’ve loaded divx/xvids of 720×416 & 640×352 with no conversion on my S9 that play back fine. haven’t tried larger h.264 vids yet.

Lebowski on December 16, 2009 9:08 PM

rob, robert, bobby…being an techno snob doesn’t make your opinions correct. sure the s9 has all those things and some are pretty good but the reasons you said ipods actually make them good. itunes is a great program and it does it all. and it does it all right at that too.but importantly, nobody excpet snobby audiophiles care about audio codecs and all that crap. high quality mp3s are all you need for good sound and the ipods sound quality is if at the least, the same as the s9. its the HEADPHONES that make the difference.equalizers are crap and are only good flat.the screen glass doesnt really make a difference your just paying for this so called gorilla brand.batterfly life i admit isnt that great but hey, if theres at least another thing the ipod has that your cheap mp3 players will never have is PERFECT GAPLESS PLAYBACK.

mike mike on December 16, 2009 10:17 PM

does anyone know when/if sandisk is coming out with a 32gb micro sd card? (and maybe a 64gb too or am i just a dreamer…)

Newzild on December 16, 2009 10:37 PM

mike mike – there will never be a 64gb micro SD card, because the format will only reach 32gb due to the way the format is designed.Sandisk expects the 32gb micro SDHC to ship in June.

Mf1232 on December 16, 2009 11:02 PM

@Lebowski…You are absolutely blind. Take your love goggles off for the iPod and actually look at the facts.Even with good headphones ipods sound like crap. I have taken nice headphones, and switched them back and fourth between the ipod touch and cowon s9… S9 wins by a long shot. that’s with both of them on a flat equalizer. and why wouldn’t you want to bring an equalizer into the mix? it let’s you customize the sound to the way you like it, deepen the bass, get crisper highs, etc. so if you turn the equalizer on, on the s9, then compare the two, the gap that the s9 wins by widens. and AMOLED screens are amazing, you cannot find pic quality like that anywhere else. plus you can look at it at any angle without seeing different sorry, i can’t even continue, there are so, so, so, so, so (etc) many reasons why ipod is crap and why other pmps are better. granted there are SOME things the ipod does better, they’re not enough for anyone on this website to want one. this IS a website for audiophiles seeking the best audio quality possible from their players, ipods (even with nice heaphones) sound bad. if you could line up 3-4 players, including the ipod touch, and just switched say sony mdr-ex300′s or even sony MDR-EX700LP’s between all the players, the ipod would hands down, sound the absolute with that said, please let me re-direct you;

Andreas Ødegård on December 17, 2009 12:27 AM

Actually this is not a website for audiophiles only. Nor does an ipod touch sound absolutely worst, there are plenty of players and brands that have worse sound quality. For everyday use, few people would notice the difference even though there is one. As for the other aspects of the discussion going on, both sides should stop speaking in absolute terms. Some people prefer apps, some people prefer better video support, some people prefer AMOLED screens, some people prefer EQs, some people prefer flat sound signatures. The beauty of any market for electronics is that there are more than one device out there, so people can choose the player they want. There is not, nor will there ever be, a “best player” objectively speaking. People have different preferences, and that will lead to different players being best suited for those people in particular. The banner of this articles says “abi’s top 5 2009″, the article starts with “It’s that time of year when we lay out our top picks for the year”- I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would, could, ever claim that an opinion on a subjective matter is untrue. It’s physically impossible to be wrong on a subjective matter as there is no universally correct answer. Even more so, people claiming that the list is bad “because this is the absolute and only truth” is frankly like someone stating their favorite color, then someone comes along and slaps them because “the best color in the world isn’t pink, it’s green”. It’s horrible to see some of the comments here who seem more like they’re written by monkeys/Engadget commenters rather than civilized people

john on December 17, 2009 2:25 AM

Clip is small enough, but I don’t like, maybe I will choose Samsung P3 from the five, Samsung has a high quality.

RicemanDan on December 17, 2009 1:29 PM

I need a new player before I go travelling and have got it down to the S9 and Sony X1060 (32gb).S9 = £230X = £200Can the S9 justify £30 more, or is the sony the option here? Noise cancellation would be very useful as I cycle everywhere and don’t drive (block out the traffic!) and I’ve tried the sony earphones and they are very comfy, but what about vid support. Is converting my divx files to mp4 going to be a problem??

Big B on December 17, 2009 3:47 PM

Ricediceman – you can use this voucher anywhere to get £50 off the X(not limited to Dixons)

RicemanDan on December 17, 2009 6:27 PM

Wow, that’s amazing. It says participating stores in the T&C but how do you know which ones are?? Do you think Amazon counts? £150 would be a bargain!Thanks very much BigB!

Karl on December 17, 2009 6:28 PM

RicemanDan,In addition to the above, you can get the S9 at AMP3PLAYERS with 10% off using this code: AFXCOW.You also then have the opportunity to add a swish leather case worth £20 for free.It’s also free next day delivery.Total cost = £206.I sound like I work for the shop but I don’t, I ordered my S9 a couple of days ago and it arrived today, so I’m just excited about it. Can’t use it yet though as it’s an XMas pressie from my girlfriend.I was in the same boat as you though, trying to decide between the S9 and the X1060. In the end the BIG deciding factor was gapless playback as I listen to a lot of electronic/dance music and currently use an iPod I didn’t think I could “upgrade” to something without gapless.Hopefully I made the right decision!

Karl on December 17, 2009 6:31 PM

And yes Amazon is included in that offer.As is Advancedmp3players. I’d go with them as they have price-mathed Amzon and you get free next day Fedex delivery, whereas Amazon’s is around £4 for First Class.

RicemanDan on December 17, 2009 6:39 PM

They are participating as I read on hot UK deals that Sony have confirmed. Need to purchase the unit by 24 Dec though. I’m off!

RicemanDan on December 17, 2009 6:52 PM

Thanks for the info KarlI used Amazon in the end – I have the Amazon credit card as it came with £15 credit already on and also every £1 you spend you get 1pt and 1000pts = £10 voucher – not bad at all, esp as I’m spending £1300 on a RTW flight, though outside amazon £2 = 1pt, so not as good. I know of Adv MP3 players though and know they are good. I’m not in too much of a hurry either, so gone for free supersaver delivery.Think I’ll wait til I get to the US and see If I can pick up a cheap S9, so I can settle the dispute :p

Tom on December 17, 2009 9:05 PM

I love how there’s all of these high-end players with touch screens, wireless, etc. etc….but the Clip+ still beats them all out.I have to say, though, I went back to my original clip because I think they could still get rid of some of the clutter. Slotradio? Really, SanDisk? I almost wish the card was the only memory, and then it would just show up as a single drive in Windows.I know, I know, nitpicks. It still performs amazingly well :)

Big Bear on December 17, 2009 10:29 PM

THANK YOU ANDREAS!Man all that fighting made me uneasy and just lead to more and more hate between ipod/non-ipod lovers.I mean, its Christmas, no?Lets all love each other ^_^ !Lebrowski, stop hating non-ipods, and all of us lets stop throwing wood in the fire by fighting against him.Or else a disgruntled big bear will come and eat you ;)

Shadow D on December 18, 2009 7:11 AM

@Karl and RicemanDanThe X-Series does actually support gapless playback, although they don’t really help you much by making it easy to use. You have to use wave files if you want the gapless playback.In the old days, the AtracLossless would have gapless, but that has been removed in the Euro versions, so if you want gapless and/or lossless, you’ll have to go for Linear PCM (wave).About the video, it definitely wasn’t easy to begin with, spent many hours trying to figure out how to get perfect quality video on the device. But I’ve got it, and I can tell you that video on this device is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.I use Handbrake as my encoder and it works brilliantly, and I’ll gladly help anyone along who needs it.

Pete on December 18, 2009 9:50 AM

dude… lebowski why are trying to make us believe ipods were good?you’re at ‘anythingbutipod’what are you trying to prove?would anyone of us read these articles if we would care about apple?

Harry on December 18, 2009 12:42 PM

hey guyz , can u tell me if creative zen X-Fi2 is good ??

cBc on December 18, 2009 1:56 PM

Since this article is titled Top 5 MP3 Players of 2009 I’m not real sure what being able to play certain video codecs or not has to do with the topic. Just sayin’.Cool on Sansa Clip+ as top dawg. Get the battery thing fixed & you can come back for 2010 too.

GraveDigger on December 18, 2009 3:49 PM

lebowski is just a sad basement dwelling i live at home with mommy troll looking for attention and he/she is getting it.

a_tumiwa on December 20, 2009 10:50 AM

love the ranking, its very good list, i agree with this result

RicemanDan on December 20, 2009 3:45 PM

Hey ShadowThanks for the info. I’m interested in the handbrake encoder you mention. Is it free to download?Cheers

ipodhater on December 20, 2009 3:57 PM

Ipods definitely sound bad. I think they are made out of crap (basic toshiba hardware) and the design has not improved from it’s simple embarrassing outdated look. I bought it 3 times and sold quickly for much cheaper just cause I couldn’t stand the worthless bad sound. That is not happening with my S9 and X series. I think apple is heading out of the portable music picture.

weedalin on December 20, 2009 5:00 PM

I think it would be better to consider this list as a collection of the best players of 09 rather than a set list and just forget about the numbers.

Random on December 21, 2009 5:43 PM

I believe the S9 and P3 should be switched.SQ-wise, there’s no way to know which is better because SQ is extremely subjective.Battery Life, I think everyone would agree the specs on the S9′s video battery life is an overkill of the P3′s battery life.The P3 can play h.264 without many problems as for the S9, you must convert it to 480×272 + other specific settings.However, I would rather watch a divx movie (which btw can be found on the internet with absolutely no problems) for 8-10 hours, than a h.264 movie for about 6 hours or so.

Lebowski on December 22, 2009 11:42 AM

i have come to the conclusion that yall are a bunch of idiots. the ipod is better and thats a FACT.1. made in USA2. best features3. easy to use makes it popular. its a proven fact that the more something sells, the better it is. the same goes for music as well.4. with good headphones it sounds great. visit for proof and i bet youll get laughed with your pathetic anti-ipod attitudes. im not as pro-ipod as you fools are anti-ipod becase sometimes i do use different players for different purposes.if you want further proof, visit my site and quit being a close minded, misinformed plebeian

Mike on December 22, 2009 12:43 PM

Ah brother Lebowski, I too am a devoted follower of Worthington’s Law though, great list ABI. I have an S9 (purchased after reading ABIs review) and could not be happier. Wicked sound quality, gorgeous screen, gapless between all music files, and MSC compliant.Please folks, don’t feed the trolls.

Lebowski on December 22, 2009 8:31 PM

Yes i am a Ipod devotee and i feel all other mp3 devices are just junk and simply made for the poor people who can not own the almighty Ipod.

Lebowksi on December 23, 2009 4:01 AM

Im sorry for the trouble I caused. I know ipods are inferior to these devices and your people’s superior audio knowelege. Please forgive me and also keep in mind I’m confused about my sexuality

Lebowski on December 23, 2009 6:44 AM

How did you get on to my account and how did you discover my sexual orientation? Just because men float my boat doesn’t mean you bunch of bastards have to be so judgmental. Steve tells me our love is special, he says when it becomes legal we can get married! I cant wait to be Mr. Jobs. Oh no Steve is calling, he sounds pretty drunk, hope he doesn’t beat me for being on ABI I’ve got to go.

Shifterfire (Raoul) on December 23, 2009 11:35 AM

@Lebowski1 Well to me that it is made in the USA is kind of a con and not a pro2 Best features… Atleast say most or good, but not best. If you say best you’re always wrong.3 Marketing makes it popular, there are devices out there which are a lot more easy to use.4 With good headphones everything sounds great…

MrWafflesMonster on December 23, 2009 11:26 PM

Once again…sigh!1. made in USAApple products are NOT MADE IN THE USA, they are made in china2. best featuresThat’s really a moot point, the only thing that the ipod touch has that other mp3 players don’t is millions of apps (most of them shit)The cowom s9 has superior video and audio features to the touch3. easy to use makes it popular. its a proven fact that the more something sells, the better it is. the same goes for music as well.”its a proven fact that the more something sells, the better it is”-This isn’t strictly true. Things that sell more usually are more well-known and have been better advertised that other productsMost people simply do not know there are alternatives to ipods, the word ipod has become (unfortunately) almost synonymous with pmp/mp3 player and this has led (in combination with apple’s advertising) to their market dominance, which is why they sell more, not because they are ‘better’And another thing ‘ease of use’ doesn’t make things popular, there are plenty of mp3 players/pmps that are as easy to use as apple players and are not as popular, zen stone, sansa clip/clip+, sandisk sansa fuse, creative zen, zune 30/80…4. with good headphones it sounds great. visit for proof and i bet youll get laughed with your pathetic anti-ipod attitudes. im not as pro-ipod as you fools are anti-ipod becase sometimes i do use different players for different purposes.if you want further proof, visit my site and quit being a close minded, misinformed plebeian”As far as being misinformed, that’s rather rich coming from someone who doesn’t know where a product they own is made (even worse since it’s printed on the back of every ipod ever made) look, assembled [made] in china :)

olphus on December 26, 2009 7:31 AM

when is the Samsung M1 being released in the UK?

pathetic_lebowsky on December 27, 2009 6:18 PM

Lebosky, many cowon devices are MORE expensive than similar apple ones, You say “mp3 simply made for the poor people who can not own the almighty Ipod” maybe your pocket is full of money,but your brain is empty of knowledge.Try to compare any cowon or iriver technology with apple apple is allways YEARS later, apple added video playing YEARS later, added radio 10 years later,never timer rec recordings,digital tv yeats later, proffesional equalizer as cowon u5 or 7, Never.Iriver began using amoLED screens in 2007.Touchscrrens were user on apple later.Just one more thing any apple headphone is junk crap compared with sennheiser or akg at same price.Not to mention the 50+ hoursof battery life on cowon and iriver devices…

MagicT on December 29, 2009 8:55 AM

My own “review” about Philips GoGear Opus 32Gb :P ROS :- basic FLAC support- designCONS :- very poor sound despite what they said (no bass at all, no details, lot of high freq,…)- eq’s are almost useless- fullsound mode is a scam!- enhanced audio system is- slow navigation- extremely slow to build the database after transfert (> 2 minutes!!)- flac files are listed as unknown tracks (no tags support)- price

MagicT on December 29, 2009 8:58 AM

* updated *My own “review” about Philips GoGear Opus 32Gb :P ROS :- basic FLAC support- designCONS :- very poor sound despite what they said (no bass at all, no details, lot of high freq,…)- eq’s are almost useless- fullsound mode is a scam!- enhanced audio system is- slow navigation & buggy navigation : it makes the music stops if the user is scolling too quickly!- extremely slow to build the database after transfert (> 2 minutes!!)- flac files are listed as unknown tracks (no tags support)- priceNote : tested with latest firmware Dec. 2009 v2.x

TEAC on December 29, 2009 9:06 AM

What about TEAC / Cowon mp3 players?they all have flac support & allow sd-cards but i’d like to know if the sound quality & the navigation is average, good or excellent !

Jfiz w/ the P3 on December 29, 2009 1:05 PM

Um Lebowski get a life i have aIpod touch 2nd gen and a Samsung P3 and i am far from broke dude. I love my samsung because its a show off because not many have it in the US and the home screen and graphics of the player are AWESOME. I just use my touch for when i have to check my Facebook, uhgg that thing bores

Gdo on December 29, 2009 7:13 PM

Hi seeing as, in the UK, the Sony is cheaper then the samsung and the cowon would you push the sony to the top now (or 2nd)? (I’m talking 32GB in each case).I will be buying one of them in the new year and I want to go for the one with the best sound for music.

Gagdet geek of the week on January 2, 2010 5:53 PM

Weird how many in here talking about “apps” and the bonus it gives a certain player…Go buy a Itouch if you want an average all-in-one-player…First and foremost a “good” mp3 player delivers music in the best possible way, then the rest is just a bonus.If your like me, into how the music sounds I would put the Cowon S9 No#1 hands down.Then the #2 samsung P3, followed by #3 sony X-1000.The Sansa clip is nice when out running or at the gym, great sound dirt cheap!Also would be nice to see/hear what people plug into lets say the cowon S9, 20$ sennheiser earphones? or at least the klipsch image S4 or preferably the image X5 as decent IEM´s.To match the player in a more flattering way,Shure´s SE530 sounds pretty nice with the S9 not to forget the lovely Westone UM3.(buy an Ibasso portable amp for them)So at least budget half of the players cost for headphones and you will see/ hear why the cowon should be no #1 i this list.

kugel. on January 6, 2010 2:39 PM

Boring, 4x the same touchscreen pmp, and the all time winner clip.

razorskub on January 8, 2010 1:35 AM

It’s hilarious how intense people get over an electronic device.I had an ipod touch for a little while and returned it. I didn’t like the player, I didn’t like itunes, so I went back to my samsung P2. I want either an S9, P3 or zune HD but i can’t buy any of them in Winnipeg :( .I’ll just have to stick with my P2, which I find is much better than the ipod touch.

Dano on January 10, 2010 1:08 PM

I think the fact that this site is called “anythingbutipod” and yet still this page has 85 (EIGHTY FIVE) mentions of the word iPod (at least 87 by the time i’m finished this post) means that it has made a mark.. anyone being honest whether a fanboy of apple or not will admit that the iPod (nano, classic or touch) is a must mention in a list of ‘top 5′ mp3 players for any year from the time they were conceived. Talk about cost! I think the iPod is very affordable.. there’s one for everyone!

kristian kroflin on January 18, 2010 11:17 PM

“means that it has made a mark…”not it but the ads for it – I have never seen any ads for the P3, S9 or the Clip+ – but plenty of it for the … you know what.

walkingswan on January 25, 2010 5:53 PM

dear lebowski (wannabe): i find it amusing of how u said u werent one of those apple fanboys :3 as im reading the comments, im laughing my ass off of how u are praising ipod and calling those players shit. wat you sad are true, however the purpose of this site is to tell wat mp3 players are the best other than ipods. thats why its called “anythingbutipod” unless u are too dumb to kno the purpose of this site, i suggest u get out of this site and play with ur so-called-ipod

Jaigoda on February 2, 2010 1:51 PM

Dano, you’re actually going to try to say that iPods are reasonably priced? I can get a Fuze that has almost the same feature set as the Nano (minus the camera but plus an SD card slot and use with any media player), but costs right around half as much. If you want video, the Sony E340 and View are both cheaper and better options. The Shuffle is an effing $80 brick, and the Clip+ literally outclasses it in EVERY way.Besides the Touch which is somewhat in a class of its own, there are better, cheaper options for each of the iPods. I refuse to buy iPods not because they’re from Apple or are tied into iTunes, but because they’re just stupidly overpriced and there are other, more flexible options for less money.

SirPaul on February 2, 2010 5:46 PM

I would like to buy an mp3 player to play music, I want diferent play list that are easy to access. I also want to use it as a portable photo album. I would like to stay under $80. there are some on Amazon. I was thinking of IRIVER SPINN, or Coby mp837 and would like other opinions? Prefer rechargeable battery, that is what I do not like about the Spinn

Gaspar on February 19, 2010 5:12 AM

hahaha, there are at least 3 or 4 Lebowskis writing here. Funny

I_am_not_lebowski on February 21, 2010 2:00 AM

I was looking for an iPod competitor and found that website … and I didn’t know most of those PMP. THANKS!!People like Lebowski made me want something else than iPod ’cause they like to show off their crappy things : “Hey you see, I can light a lighter shaking my IPHONE? I have access to over 140000 apps.”I think I will buy Zune HD or Samsung P3 in the next weeks.Thumbs up for the website and articles!

Hawaii-5-O on February 24, 2010 6:28 PM

Bigger was dismissed as being better many moons ago, and yet smaller is not necessarily better either! I really do not like the Sandisk Clip range at all and especially not the plus – way too small man. These player need to have some size and weight – who the hell wants a near weightless player, or near weightless anything for that matter? Its a weird trend that I have noticed and not just with audio players. If you use good quality materials and design/build in enough quality in terms of finish and robustness then, yes, it will weigh a bit more and it should. I am sick and tired of this crappy plastic obsession with miniturisation. Good grief if this goes on we are just going to be facing a race of pussies who have trouble lifting anything!

Taylor on April 26, 2011 10:10 PM

Yes, this is pretty acurate, but I personally think the Clip+ should be at most number 3. I used to have the Clip, and I can tell the + isn’t so different. I have a Zune HD, and I really think it deserves number 1. From it’s wide selection on Zune Originals, low pricing (150$? That’s as much as an iPod NANO!!), to it’s bright OLED screen, to it’s wonderful shape, weight and size, the HD beats all.

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