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Top Best MP3 Players

Apple iPod nano
Still number one in the MP3 player arena, the venerable iPod family got a new addition in 2005. The pencil-thin iPod nano is a hybrid of sorts, combining the storage capacity of a hard-drive player with the skip protection and compact size of a Flash-based player. It comes in 2 GB (500-song) and 4 GB (1,000-song) models, both of which boast an impressive full-color display and Apple's famous click-wheel navigation system.

iriver T10
Stylish and sleek, with a vivid color display, the iriver T10 not only supports subscription music services but also has an FM tuner for when you just want to hear the radio. It features a voice recorder for your notes-to-self, and its built-in sport clip makes it a handy workout companion. Like most Flash-based players, it comes with 512 MB of storage, or you can get the 1 GB model for about $50 more.

Creative Labs Zen Nano Plus
The Zen Nano Plus from Creative Labs features Line-In encoding for direct connection to any audio source, so you can bypass your computer and record music directly from your CD player. Available in 512 MB and 1 GB models, it also includes an FM tuner and voice recorder. And while the world of the iPod nano may be black and white, the Zen Nano Plus comes in your choice of 10 different colors.

Cowon iAudio U2
The iAudio U2 from Cowon gives you great sound quality in an elegant little package. It's the first MP3 player to use BBE Sound System for clear sound and dynamic bass. The super-slim body comes in blue, red or black, and the four-line bluescale LCD display will even show you the lyrics to your favorite songs while you listen. The iAudio has a built-in lithium polymer battery, which can be recharged through a USB port or an AC adapter.

Apple iPod shuffle
Incredibly thin and weighing less than an ounce, the iPod shuffle is a solid choice for exercise enthusiasts or music lovers on a budget. It has no screen, and its simple thumb-controlled interface is easy to use. Like being surprised? The iPod shuffle can connect directly to your computer's USB port and automatically download a random sample of songs from your iTunes library. You never know what you're gonna get!

Maybe you don't think less is more when it comes to music. In that case, how does storing thousands of songs sound? If you'd like to carry your entire music library in your pocket, check out the hard-drive-based MP3 players on the next page.

Apple iPod
The latest-generation iPod is available in either white or black, has a high-resolution color screen and plays videos. With a memory of 30 GB or 60 GB, video iPods have the same storage capacity as older models but are thinner and lighter. Enjoy a huge number of songs, audiobooks and podcasts; store your digital photos and display them on the high-resolution color screen; or catch up on episodes of your favorite TV shows, downloaded directly from iTunes.

Epson P-2000
If you want your MP3 player to replace not just your CDs but your photo albums as well, then check out the Epson P-2000. This multimedia storage device not only plays videos and music files, but its humongous 3.8-inch high-res display is specially designed for photo viewing. Its 40 GB hard drive can download photos from your digital camera via its memory card, and it also connects directly to compatible photo printers.

Toshiba Gigabeat
Speedy downloads are the name of the game with the Gigabeat series from Toshiba. Transfers are lightning-fast from your computer's USB port, and a unique feature called CD RipRec lets you copy a whole CD in minutes, with just the touch of a button. Its bright color screen can display album covers while you listen. The Gigabeat is compatible with subscription music services, and it gives you more memory options than some of the other players, coming in 10, 20, 40 or 60 GB models.

Sony Network Walkman
Let's say you don't care about viewing photos or videos on your MP3 player; you just want great-sounding music and long battery life. Consider the 20 GB Sony Network Walkman, which can provide up to 40 hours of continuous music playback with its removable lithium-ion battery. The sound quality is excellent, and Sony's SonicStage software and Connect Music Store just might give iTunes a run for its money.

iriver H10
Want a durable MP3 player that will go the extra mile? With a color screen and 5, 6 or 20 GB of memory, the iriver H10 uses a minimalist touch-scroll interface with few parts that can jam or break off. It also ships with its own protective carrying case. Its rechargeable battery can be swapped out when it gives up the ghost, so the player won't need to be replaced for years.

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