Mark Harris
10 BEST MP3 PLAYERS - The Independent, 14 October 2004

As chosen by technology expert Mark Harris

Creative Zen Touch £220
If this 20Gb player looked any more like an iPod, the plagiarism police would be knocking on Creative’s door. But despite a zippy touch-sensitive pad and great sound quality, it weighs 50g more than the original Apple and can’t match it for glamour. On the plus side, the Zen runs for twice as long on a single charge and can play popular Windows Media (WMA) files as well as MP3s.
Creative Labs (no phone;

Oregon Scientific MP120 £100
This fully waterproofed player is perfect for drowning out your fellow swimmers at the pool. Its 128Mb flash memory holds a couple of hours of MP3 tunes or you can listen to the integral FM radio while perfecting your butterfly stroke. Although sound quality is at its best beneath the waves, the MP120 is also a handy player for jogging in the rain.
Oregon Scientific (0845 601 3964;

BenQ Joybee 150 £120
This shiny player has a useful line-in socket that allows you to create your own MP3 files instantly from a CD player, TV or microphone. It weighs just 40 grams and has an FM radio but a mere 128Mb of memory feels miserly nowadays. It also suffers with an old USB 1.1 connection for uploading songs; the newer USB 2.0 technology is much faster.
Ben Q (01442 301 000;

iRiver N10 £160
Super-lightweight players like this 22-gram beauty are creating a whole new market in wearable ‘geek chic’. Its sharp screen uses power-saving organic LED (OLED) technology and a healthy 512Mb of memory holds up to eight hours of music. Slip it around your neck and an alarm clock can wake you to your favourite tune, or capture witticisms for posterity with a built-in voice recorder.
MX2 (01481 740200;

MP3 Watch £130
Watches are generally seen and not heard but if you can’t bear to be separated from your music for a single minute, there’s nothing for it but an MP3-playing timepiece. This classy chronometer has 128Mb of built-in memory, a voice recorder and sound quality that isn’t as (quite) bad as its plastic design suggests. Don’t worry about looking silly –you won’t hear people laughing at you anyway.
Boys Stuff (0870 745 2000;

Archos Gmini 400 £280 --- BEST LUXURY BUY
Now that everyone has a portable MP3 player, the next step is movies on the move. This multimedia jukebox can store up to 80 hours of MPEG-4 digital video on its 20Gb hard drive. Converting DVDs to this new format can be a hassle, but you can always go back to listening to MP3s, viewing digital images or even playing games on its 2.2-inch LCD.
Archos (01264 366 022;

Philips HDD070 £130 --- BEST BUDGET BUY
If you believe some media reports, you’re likely to be mugged for your iPod before you’ve actually listened to all the 10,000 tunes inside it. Cut your risk by investing in this credit card-sized 2Gb player from Philips. It still has tell-tale white earphones but its tiny dimensions mean that you can keep it tucked safely away. A 10-hour battery life and built-in FM radio cement a real bargain.
(0870 900 9070;

Sony Vaio Pocket Music Player VGF-AP1 £250
Sony’s cold war with MP3s is finally thawing, with the release of a player that converts them speedily into the ATRAC digital files that the music giant favours. If you can get to grips with the AP1’s fiddly interface, this 20Gb player has superb sound quality and doubles as a digital photo album: simply plug in your digital camera to download and view snaps on its bright 2.2-inch colour screen.
Sony (0870 511 1999;

Rio Cali Sports £110
A lightweight, skip-free MP3 player is the jogger’s best friend. Don’t risk your expensive hard disc player on the treadmill, however, as flash memory models are cheaper and more resilient to the shocks of daily exercise. This Rio has a grippy rubber casing, a sports armband and earbuds that won’t bounce free. If the 256Mb of built-in memory isn’t enough, boost it with an extra Secure Digital card.
Rio (08700 991 794;

Apple iPod mini £180 --- BEST BUY
This fruit didn’t fall far from the iPod tree, squeezing all the original’s features into a shiny metal casing smaller than most mobile phones. A 4Gb hard drive can store around 1000 songs, and updates itself automatically when you plug it in to your computer to recharge. Its smooth click wheel is still the best way to scroll through songs, although watch out for a modest eight-hour battery life.
Apple (0800 039 1010;

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