So the primary goal for this device is going to be an MP3 Player. Naturally, there are all sorts of other features and gadgets that come along with most of the good players on the market, but I consider most of that stuff to be nice to have, but not a necessity. There has to be a way to get the player working in my car (I'm not too picky about that - those FM transmitters should do the trick) and I'll probably be carting the thing around everywhere as well. Rather than run through all the features, I'll run through the candidates and their features. As of now, I'm leaning towards the 20GB iPod Photo.
- 4GB iPod Nano: I started looking at players just a few days before Apple announced the Nano, and I have to admit that it gave me pause. It is quite different from the other players in this list, and it certainly has a lot going for it, but the 4GB storage space is just too small. Well, it's certainly an improvement on my current situation, and this little player certianly has a lot going for it, but there was one other factor that makes me hesitate on this, and that's the forthcoming iPod phone that is speculated to be in development (i.e. not the Motorolla ROKR.) I'm guessing they could pack a few gigs onto the phone, and that would be a nice supplement to the full blown players I'm considering below (and it's worth noting that this need not be an iPod phone - Sony has some interesting Walkman branded phones right now. With a little improvement, they could be mighty attractive). Still, a part of me really wants a Nano, so I guess there's still a small chance I'll end up with one... (The physical size in the player might be worth the lack of storage space)
- 20GB iPod Photo: This has pretty much everything I'm looking for, and then some. By all accounts, it's a well engineered and designed piece of work, and everyone I know who has one loves it. 20GB is a good size, and it allows photos and other file storage, which could be useful. It also has some productivity software like a calendar and todo list, which is nice (depending on how it works). I think one other big consideration when it comes to the iPod is the simple network effect: so many people have iPods that there is a good market for quality accessories. This is important, because I'm looking to use my player in the car, which would require some accessories.
- Cowon iAudio X5: This one has almost everything the iPod has, and some interesting features. It comes in 20GB and 30GB in comparable prices, and it has some advanced functionality that includes an FM Tuner and even the ability to watch video. However, there are some things that appear to be lacking when compared to the iPod. For instance, it requires an adapter to attach AC, line-in, and USB cables. The controls and design seem nice, but it doesn't seem like anyone can approach the iPod on design. Still, it definitely seems like the best alternative to the iPod out there, and it looks great on paper (though I guess there's still a nagging question of how it will perform in practice). I don't know much about the accessories that are available, but they seem somewhat less complete than what's available for the iPod.
- Creative Zen Touch: This player is comparable to the iPod Photo and the X5, but anecdotal evidence from a friend makes me want to stay away from this one. This seems like a good case of a player that looks good on paper, but doesn't work as well in practice.