It's getting to the point that I'm going to have to jump soon, though. I've tried to use my laptop instead, but that's quickly becoming unfeasible.
So I'm seeking recommendations. My requirements:
High capacity is probably my primary requirement. I have 40+ GB of MP3s on my home PC, I think; I use fairly high-quality settings when ripping, and I don't want to change that. I'm not (necessarily) looking to put my entire collection on my MP3 player, but at the same time, I have so no interest in futzing with libraries and playlists all the livelong day. I can probably manage with less capacity than 10GB, but at a guess, 3GB is a minimum.
Durability is a problem if I need high capacity, I know. Flash players are probably more shock-tolerant, but they seem to max out at 6GB or so. I like to think I'd take care of a player, but the bare fact is that I'm clumsy. Any player of mine is going to suffer impacts and cord-pulls.
I'm not the best judge in the world, but I won't listen to a scratchy or tinny player. (I'm not talking "included headphones/earbuds" here; I mean native device output.) I'm also the sort to want to know I have the best, even if I would never be able to judge the difference myself. (That bit of my personality will be a whole 'nother post someday.)
I want something with a decent battery life. I don't love the idea of a player with a non-replaceable battery (ahem, Apple.) Mains recharging is fine.
Look, I respect Apple's products, generally speaking. But I don't have an Apple machine. (Mouse-primary OSs give me hives.) My job requires Windows, and I don't feel like keeping up with multiple OSs, so I run Windows on my own devices as well. I use MusicMatch to manage my existing MP3 library; I can live with Windows Media or other Windows-compatible software if necessary. I could probably survive using iTunes if there's a Windows-compatible version.
I still buy and rip from CDs, rather than downloading digital music, because the various implementations of DRM all have in common the element of really annoying me, one way or another. So download integration is not a big deal.
... Meh. It matters, of course; I won't be spending a thousand dollars on this. But it isn't as significant a factor as it probably should be.
- Some way to randomize music files is essential.
- I'd like a decent FM tuner; this isn't essential.
- Apparently this is a pipe dream, but: a dedicated volume control sure would be nice.
- An intelligent user interface would be spiffy.
- I have no need for video support.
- Voice recording would be useless to me.
- I won't be subscribing to anything, so subscription-service compatibility is irrelevant.
The Creative Zen Micro sounds promising, but the known headphone jack weakness worries me.
I feel as if I've heard good things about iRiver, but I don't know where that comes from.
iPod is the archetypal player. I'm not particularly opposed to it; is there any good reason for me to prefer it?
Now we come to you, dear reader. I'm looking for recommendations, for and against. If you've had a good or bad personal experience, or if you've heard specific advice for or against a particular player, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me a comment.