Best Buys: MP3 players

(National) Dec. 29, 2004 - The i-Pod is dominating the MP3 scene, but new competitors are hoping to take a bite out of Apple's business. Consumer Reports just pitted the i-Pod against seven other MP3 players.

Testers looked at two sizes: lightweight 4-gig players, which can hold about 1000 songs, and 20-gig players, which can hold about 5000 songs.

Testers assessed how easy it is to download music. One option is using software that comes with the player to copy CD's onto your computer then into your MP3 player. Gerard Catapano with Consumer Reports says and there's a second option most of the players offer, "You can get music on your MP3 player by visiting an online music store and downloading songs for about a dollar a song."

The Iriver and Archos players don't work with any online music stores and that's a drawback.

The i-Pod uses the i-Tunes music site exclusively, and testers found downloads are a breeze. In contrast, transferring music to the Sony Network Walkman, which also limits users to one site, can be irritatingly slow.

An advantage of the other four players tested is you can buy music at multiple sites.

Testers also looked at how easy it is to find a song once it's downloaded, which is important when you're searching through hundreds, even thousands of tunes.

For a 4-gig player, the $250 i-Pod Mini with its scrolling playlist is the best choice hands down.

With the 20-gig players, you've got two very good choices. The Creative Zen Touch costs $270 and you can get music from four different sites. The $300 Apple i-Pod, with its sleek style and small size, is hard to beat.

Reported by Judi Gatson
Posted 6:00pm by BrettWitt

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2004 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED