Sound bytes

In the market for a portable MP3 player? Chances are you won’t get far beyond the iPod.

SanDisk Sansa e260RIn the market for a portable MP3 player? Chances are you won’t get too far beyond the iconic iPod. The classic, the Nano, the Shuffle, the new iPhone-style player... the range covers pretty much every need. But did you know that there’s a whole world beyond the iPod?

Philips SA6045/37The market is awash with snazzy little MP3 players that come packed with features at prices that will make even the cheapest iPod seem obscenely expensive. Even better, these players are all from reputed companies—Philips, Transcend, Sony and the like, so quality is not a real issue.

The players featured here are merely a random sampling; go online or to your nearest electronics retailer, and you’ll find many, many more. (Unless otherwise mentioned, the featured models are flash players that come with rechargeable, embedded batteries.)

Before you get carried away by the looks and the price of any of these models, ask yourself what you really want from the player. Is cost your sole guiding factor? Flash memory or hard drive? Or the best possible playback quality? What about video? Do you want FM and voice recording? Built-in speakers? Tiny, funky or large?Samsung YP-K5

The good news is that the type of memory really doesn’t matter any more—advancements in technology mean that the once low-capacity flash memory can store over 2 GB. Of course, if you want to digitise and carry your entire music collection around, your best bet is a hard-drive-based player, which can store up to 160 GB.

The market has developed to such an extent, you can easily afford to give the dodgy brands a miss. Almost all the big brands offer models for under Rs 3,000. The quality is infinitely better than what’s offered by the grey market stuff, plus you get warranties and the like.

Sony Walkman NW-S203F/BSanDisk Sansa e260R
4 GB • Rs 14,000
Plays music, video and photo files; comes with removable battery and expansion card slot

Philips SA6045/37
4 GB • Rs 9,000
Digital FM tuner, FM recording, Voice recording, Video playback

Samsung YP-K5Creative Zen Stone Plus
2 GB • Rs 9,000
Small, lightweight, FM player; no video, radio or voice recorder

Sony Walkman NW-S203F/B
1 GB • Rs 7,000
Water resistant, FM tuner, stopwatch function, jog shuttle, group function

NU Dark Shadow MP3 SunglassesCreative Zen Stone Plus
1 GB • Rs 7,500
Radio, voice recorder, stopwatch; easy sharing

NU Dark Shadow MP3 Sunglasses
256 MB • Rs 4,500
Polarised grey lenses, USB drive, voice recorder

Transcend T.sonic 530Transcend T.sonic 530
1 GB • Rs 3,000
Small, light, mini USB convertor, FM tuner, recorder

Creative MuVo TX FM
256MB • Rs 3,000
FM tuner, 5-band equaliser, stores data files, skip-free audio; removeable AAA battery

Philips Sa2210/02
1 GB • Rs 2,500
Plug-and-play, recorder, data storage, picture display: block;

Intex MP3 player
1 GB • Rs 3,000
Pen drive, FM tuner, voice recorder, equaliser