I got my new personal media player today – the 8 GB Sansa View.
This was the result of much deliberation and consternation. I spent many hours shopping online, comparing different mp3 players.
I began with the assumption that there were cheaper and better players than the iPod readily available. It turned out the story was not quite that simple. If you’re looking for a player with a hard drive with capacity on the order of 30 or 80 GB, options are somewhat limited. Aside from the iPod and the Zune (Microsoft’s version), there aren’t a whole lot of players out there. The alternatives that do exist cost about the same.
The second biggest advantage the player I bought is that it operates on an open system. That means that the manufacturer doesn’t attempt to shackle you to its own media player and music store, like Apple and Microsoft do. You’re free to dump whatever music you want onto the player, provided it doesn’t have digital rights management. You don’t have to use iTunes (side rant: the Apple iEverything product names strike me as pretentious and annoying, if highly successful) or Windows Media Player or anything else.
The biggest advantage to the View I bought is its price. The MSRP for this player is a good $50 less than the equivalent iPod nano, and its features are equivalent or better in nearly every category.
So in the realm of flash players, there are undoubtedly cheaper and better alternatives to the iPod.
However, as I mentioned that is not necessarily the case when it comes to hard drive players. The iPod may very well be the best choice in this arena, and if it’s not the Zune probably is. If you’re okay with the closed system these giants provide, here mainstream looks to be the way to go.