I’m sure this won’t shock or amaze you, but Apple pretty much has the MP3 player market cornered with the omnipresent iPod. Since you already know that, I’ll just get it out of the way first. You might want to skip past the first few entries on our list if you’d like to know about the most popular MP3 player without an Apple logo.
Apple iPod Touch – $229-$399
“The funnest iPod ever”—a slogan that, had I heard it before making my decision, might have convinced me not to buy one. Having most of the features of the iPhone, including the accelerometer that allows the Touch to register simple movement, the most popular MP3 player is more like a PDA that happens to play music better than it does anything else. Three different models of the 2nd Generation iPod Touch are currently available, from 8 GB (the most popular) to 32 GB (which falls somewhat below the iPod Nano).
Apple iPod Classic – $249
The iPod Classic has a few intriguing features—Genius playlists and Cover Flow presentation, most notably—but its real selling point is its capacity. At 120 GB, the 6th generation of iPod Classic is a digital music player for users who think more is more and the most is even better. In fact, given no options with more memory, users have only one choice to make when purchasing an iPod Classic—black or silver.
Apple iPod Nano – $149 or $199
For those users who can’t stand having some great lump of technological wizardry bulging from their pockets, the iPod Nano is a popular compromise. Already possessing all of the features of the iPod Classic in a smaller package with less memory, the 4th generation iPod Nano also has an accelerometer that, as with the Touch, allows users to view their music collection or videos using the screen in either portrait or landscape mode. The iPod Nano comes in nine different colors, the most popular being black and blue, and two different sizes—8 GB or 16 GB.
SanDisk Sansa Fuze – $79.99-$119.99
See? I told you there’d be a non-Apple product eventually.
SanDisk’s Sansa Fuze may owe its popularity to its price—it is, after all, the cheapest MP3 player on the list that also plays videos. The Fuze has a few other features that make it stand out, though. It comes with a 30-day trial subscription to Rhapsody which, unlike Apple’s iTunes Store, doesn’t require users to pay per track. It also has a built-in microphone, a feature that even the vaunted iPod Touch doesn’t have. The Sansa Fuze can be purchased in 2 GB, 4 GB or 8 GB and five different colors.
Apple iPod Shuffle – $49-79
Much controversy surrounds the 3rd generation of the smallest iPod, which could see it lose its place to the Sansa Clip once stores run out of the 2nd generation model. The first and second generation Shuffles cater to users who want to fiddle with their music as little as possible—going so far as to lack a screen with which to navigate your music selection. The third generation takes the minimalist approach one step further and offers no controls on the device itself. Instead, Shuffle owners must use a remote included as part of the headphones that come with the shuffle. This has the unfortunate effect of requiring users to purchase new Apple headphones should the included pair ever become lost or broken. While the 2nd generation Shuffle came in a plethora of colors and a couple of different memory sizes, the 4th generation is only available in 4 GB and in two different colors—black or silver.