Latest Technology: Small Personal Media Players

Since the days of the first iPod, the world of the personal, portable digital media players has gone through many revolutions and product cycles. Through endless research and innovations, they are now smaller, sleeker and more feature-packed than ever.

Apple has only recently launched the new iPod shuffle and it has completely done away with controls on the device itself. Instead, the controls are attached to the headphone wire. This makes the device incredibly small and can be easily clipped on. Even though the storage size has increased to offer a 4GB variant, many aren’t happy with having to buy special headphones or get stuck with the ones that are provided. Because the pet peeve for people regarding the iPod is always the sound quality, other than the need for iTunes of course.

Stepping up, Creative released the Zen Stone plus last year with many extra features added on to the original Zen Stone. It has been a competitor of the shuffle for a long time now. The Zen Stone Plus variant has a display and extra features like voice recording, FM radio and a stopwatch. Many people say that the sound quality of the Zen is better than the iPod. It has a fairly long battery life (claimed to be 9.5 hours), supports WMA files, has good built quality, all of which together make it quite popular.

Sony has recently launched a wireless, around the head type headset player that gives you the freedom to work out without getting tangled up in your headphone wire. This model, called the NWZ-W202, may not look appealing to some people but it is a really practical solution, which should be considered seriously by regular gym goers. And since this is Sony we are talking about; the sound quality is absolutely superb. The headsets neatly attach to themselves magnetically when they are not in use.

Samsung’s new YP-S2 pebble has also gained attention due to its unique and small form factor. The sound quality is decent although the battery life is not really that good. But given the price point at which it is selling, it is quite a good player.

A major new entrant is Sansa with their Sansa Clip. This otherwise ignored company has surprised everyone with its small music player that has superior sound quality; given the price bracket.
There many other options in the market for smaller players like GoGear from Philips, small players from iRiver (who happen to have very good quality sound and built), MobiBlu (also known as ‘Cube’ for its form factor). You can also look at manufacturers like Transcend, Cowon, etc.

All these are smaller versions of the larger portable players which now fully support video and many other extra features like eBook reading, picture displaying, acting as mass storage etc.

Most of these devices do not require any special software to fill them up with music, but some support folders while others may not support it. Go through their set of features and choose the one that suits your needs the best.