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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Technology Review: Picking A Music Player

How to choose the best one for your sport

by: John Biggs

PAGE 1 2 3 4

Hard Drive Players

Hard drive MP3 players can store much more data but are prone to skipping or failure if you mistreat them during a long run. Hard drives are delicate creatures, consisting of a moving read head and a set of aluminum platters that spin at almost 5000 rpm. However, if you're planning on keeping your entire MP3 collection in one handy device, a hard drive player can't be beat.

When looking for a hard drive player, consider your current music collection. Do you have hundreds of CDs? A huge collection of MP3s? Do you use a Mac or a PC?

Those who want a nice selection of music, about 1500 songs, and the ultimate in portability should consider a 4 to 6 GB player. These tiny players contain a miniaturized hard drive and usually last about 8 hours on one charge. Need more for the long haul? Consider a larger player with up to 60GB of hard drive space.

Quick Tip: Don't hold your hard drive MP3 player in your hand. Consider purchasing an arm strap or belt holder for long runs or rides. Dropping or swinging a hard drive is one of the quickest routes to a broken player.

For hiking: Mio 269 Sports MP3 Player/GPS Device

At almost $800, the Mio 269 is the most expensive of the bunch but features a full GPS system and huge touch screen for staying on track anywhere in the world. Best of all: the built-in 2.5-GB hard drive can even store about 120 MP3s. $799,

For running: Apple iPod Nano 4GB

In terms of size, simplicity and accessories, the iPod Nano is great for runners. At 4GB (about 1,000 songs) the Nano has hard-drive capacity, but actually uses flash memory instead. That means it's completely skip-proof and drop-resistant. The Nano is also super-slim, weighs only 1.5 ounces and with an available Apple armband (for an extra $29) you will barely notice you're carrying it on a run.

For the gym: Rio Karma 20GB

The Rio Karma is a gadget-lover's dream. It supports most major audio formats and can hold up to 10,000 songs. The real draw is the big, backlit display and automatic playlist generation. The device is simple to operate--just drop it into its charging cradle between trips to the gym and the software can load music and playlists automatically.

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Apr 08, 2009

Check out the Sansa Clip mp3 player, 40g with headphones, 1-4gb, $40-$80 or so.


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