The Insider: It's a buyer's market in mobile sound and vision
Saturday 15 November 2008
Everyone seems to have a digital music player these days. Whether out walking the streets, travelling on public transport, or sitting in the car, the odds are that people will be listening to music on MP3 or MP4 players.
But if you're in the market for a new one – or the digital music revolution has passed you by until now – what should you buy? While iPods (and more recently iPhones) have maintained their position among the most sought-after gadgets, there are plenty of brands other than Apple. And many of the newest devices are much cheaper than iPods, while still being competitive in terms of functionality.
Perhaps the first decision to make is whether to go for an MP3 or an MP4 player. The basic difference is that MP4 devices play video as well as music, while MP3 players just play music. Although you might not feel you need a device that plays video, many MP4 players also have touch-screen technology, which makes them easier to use.
If you can live without touch screens and video capability, there are some great devices in the MP3 market at very low prices. In its latest survey of digital music players, Which?, the consumer group, picked out the Philips SA2820 as the best all-round device on the market – and it costs just £20. Although it has a memory of only 2GB, it has a remarkable battery life of 44.5 hours, more than any other MP3 or MP4 player on the market.
Although the cheapest MP4 players are available for as little as £35, you should be ready to spend £90 or £100 if you want a machine with good sound and video quality and good battery life, and which is easy to use.
The Sony NWZ-A828 came top in Which?'s survey of these devices. It has 8GB of memory and a battery life of more than 40 hours, and costs £160. If you want one that has an FM radio as well, you might consider the Creative Zen, which has 32GB of memory.
At the bottom of the pile, you could pick up a Sumvision ICE 1000 for £35. Although it has a radio and a touch screen, its audio-visual quality is poor and it has a battery life of only 11.5 hours for music.
Finally, before you decide on which model to buy, make sure it's compatible with your computer. All MP3/MP4 players are compatible with PCs, but not all of them work with Macs.
Where to buy
As ever, online shopping comparison sites such as pricerunner.co.uk, kelkoo.co.uk and froogle.co.uk are a great way to find the model you want at the lowest price. Individual retailers that tend to offer good deals on these devices include Tesco and Argos, with the best bargains often found on their websites.
Amazon.co.uk is also worth exploring. It has Which?'s best buy – the Sony NWZ-A828 – for £129.99, £30 below its recommended retail price. And you can find this model for under £100 if you buy via Amazon's private sales side; just click on Used and New to see who's selling at what price. But be careful to check that the seller has a good reputation with other users.
What to look out for
How much memory does it have? As a rule of thumb, you will fit about 220 songs on to a player with 1GB of memory.
What's the battery life? Some devices can keep on playing music for more than 40 hours, while others struggle to manage 10 hours.
PC or Mac? All devices tend to work with PCs, but not all work with Macs.
Does it have a radio? Some players come with a built-in FM radio.
Is there a touch screen? Most MP4 players have touch screens, which tend to make them easier to use. They look more hip, too.
The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information on the best MP3 and MP4 players – or to read other product reports – visit their website, www.which.co.uk. To get three issues of 'Which?' magazine for £3, call 01992 822 800 and quote INADVICE
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 3 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 4 BBC’s new Game of Thrones slayer 'The Last Kingdom' relies on Saxon appeal, creators say
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
iJobs Money & Business
£75000 - £100000 per annum: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: We urgently require f...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive package: Orgtel: Investment Banking Sa...
£200 - £450 per day: Harrington Starr: Web Services Developer Web Services, WP...
£18000 - £25000 per annum + DOE, OTE £40000: SThree: LONDON - BRISTOL - DUBLIN...
Day In a Page
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams