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Friday, December 09, 2005

Mp3 Player

Psst, wanna buy an Mp3 Player? There’s so much choice out there, depending on needs, taste and budget. Surely iPod and its derivatives comes to mind. But not everyone like (or have enough money to buy) an iPod. Then, what other brands of Mp3 players which is worth considering.

In the world of Mp3 Player, there are few outstanding brands to name a few. These includes iRiver, Cowon, Samsung and Creative. The first three comes from South Korea, while the last one is from a Singapore based company known in the computing world as the producer and pioneer of the SoundBlaster line of sound cards. Indeed there’re more lesser known Mp3 Player brands out there, mostly cheap ones straight from Chinese mainland factories.

First you have to choose which type of Mp3 Player you need, do you need extra large capacity of Mp3 Player which runs on small hard disk? or do you need to have a skip free Mp3 Player suitable for workout which have flash memory inside? For the first category, there’s a lot of option, mostly iPod ($305-$425) and its derivative (except Nano and Shuffle), and the Zen series from Creative ($205-$310).

But if you wish to have a flash based Mp3 Player, there’s the iPod Shuffle ($95-$125) and the iPod Nano ($200-260). But if you don’t like the iPods, then there’s always players from Creative. Unfortunately Creative have these many types of players, but I choose to discuss just two which is worth mentioning: the Muvo V200, the Muvo Micro N200 (which were rebranded as the Zen Nano Plus).

For the 256 MB capacity, the V200 costs just $61, while the N200 costs $76. The Zen Nano Plus starts from 512 MB which is priced at $95. The 512 MB V200 is just $88, while the N200 (which you should avoids since it’s practically the same as the Zen Nano Plus) is priced at $99 ($4 higher for the almost the same thing but the brand).

The difference between those three as follows:

  1. The V200 has no line-in input for recording, while both the N200 and the Zen Nano Plus have. But don’t expect the line-in recording to be a near perfect solution for converting all audio from TV, CDs, Tape, Vinyl to Mp3. They’re quality is just average compared to most good soundcard in the PC.
  2. The V200 has a direct USB connector, while the N200 / Zen Nano Plus have to use standard USB cable like used in most digital camera. So the V200 eliminates the need to bring about the USB cable, but for digital camera users though this is not a problem, since the same cable can be used.
  3. For the fashionistas, the V200 is available only in white color. The N200 is available in 8 colors, and the Zen Nano Plus is available in 10 colors.
  4. Price (indeed, read above).

For the same or lower price, the V200, N200, Zen Nano Plus beats the iPod Shuffle hands down, for the extra neat features. The shuffle is without any display, no FM Radio, no line-in recording, and no drag and drop features (you have to use iTunes or some serious hacking). The V200, N200, and Zen Nano Plus has all that, with cheaper price.

Although the iPod Nano has color display, it still lacks the FM Radio, mic or line-in input for recording. The only advantage of the iPod Nano over the creative bunch is its ultra coolness of its design, Creative just beats them in features and price. Perhaps Apple wants to have incomes from licensing to third party iPod accessories manufacturer.

Final words: Shuffle lost in everything to Creative Mp3 Players, but the red hot again Apple iPod brands and design give the iPod Nano a little lift. For users who favors features and value over design, just stick with Creative.

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