Catch a fly with chopsticks
February 19, 2005 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a moderately priced (i.e. less $ than an iPod) MP3 player that has BIG, EASILY-MANIPULATED CONTROLS? I have 20 CDs worth of Mandarin language instruction that I want to rip to MP3 and use as a companion on a daily walk. Because I'll be playing language instruction instead of music, I expect to need to pause, back up, and restart a given section frequently. I'd like a player that can be manipulated easily by feel without stopping to look at it. If it can be set to loop a particular track over and over that's a big plus (though I expect that's an uncommon feature because how many people want to hear the same song again and again?) Thanks very much for any and all suggestions!
posted by jfuller to Education (9 answers total)
I've done this with language CDs. The biggest problem you'll have is that virtually every player re-uses the track skip buttons to move within a track. So you have to hold the button down to back up, and there's about a 50% chance that it won't work right and you'll actually go to the beginning of the track instead. And then you have to fast forward back to your position. Which gets really old.
posted by smackfu at 9:21 AM on February 19, 2005

You should look for one that comes with a remote. I'm pretty sure the iAudio M3 would be of use to you- you can manipulate the controls with a handy LCD that dangles from your headphones (it probably has a clip on it too).
posted by baphomet at 9:37 AM on February 19, 2005

Repeating the same track might be an easier feature to find than the kind of controls that you need. I know that the Creative Zen Jukebox's have a "repeat track" option, and I suspect that most of the others do, too.

I think the Zen would probably be awful for rewinding, though.
posted by amarynth at 1:54 PM on February 19, 2005

You want an iPod.

*The ipod has simple, easy to use buttons that are easy to navigate by feel
*You can rewind or fastforward by arbitrary amounts via the jog dial at any time. After you move back or forward, the iPod starts playing from the new point
*once you start a track, you can hit the menu button a few times and then go a menu and activate "repeat". It can repeat "one," "all" or "none."

If you need to save $, you can get an iPod mini (cheap, but poor value per gigabyte) or buy one on ebay (I've had my 3rd gen iPod for two years and the battery is as good as new, but buying a used iPod is kind of like buying a used keyboard).

Given that you only have 20 CDs worth of material, you should easily be able to fit it all on an iPod shuffle. I think those go for $99.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:48 PM on February 19, 2005

Not much cheaper than in iPod, but the Rio Karma has physical controls that can be manipulated by feel quite easily, including a wheel that "scrubs" back and forth, providing audio feedback as it scans.
posted by mzurer at 3:14 PM on February 19, 2005

I'm with b1tr0t on the ipod, though I wouldn't recommend a shuffle. Get (or at least consider) a mini or a regular ipod.
posted by mosch at 3:23 PM on February 19, 2005

Froogle shows the Karma for less than $200 for 20 gigs. Find me the stick with which that can be beat, iPod-wielding lemmings!
posted by mzurer at 3:27 PM on February 19, 2005


They come in many sizes, and you can select many different levels to repeat, track/album/folder (at least my HD based model does, It has a feature you can use while learning languages). It supports multiple file types. Can be used as a recorder easily (the HD based devices)

Controls are a bit different then an ipod, but as long as you know the sequence of clicks and jogs yer golden.

My model come with a (wired) remote, and have a nice feel to them. Of course you don't have the ipod cool factor, but imo they are overall better.

*ducks and runs before getting tarred*
posted by edgeways at 4:54 PM on February 19, 2005

What you want is the MPIO DMK. Here's why:

1) Its super-cheap - Amazon has it for $99.
2) It is small enough to wear around your neck or put in your pocket.
3) It has one toggle switch that allows you to rewind or fast-forward on a particular track and switch between tracks - totally intuitive and easy to use by touch alone.
4) It has an easy-to-use feature that allows you to loop a section of a track at any time.
5) Its incredibly reliable and durable (I've had mine for 4 years with not a single hiccup).
posted by googly at 5:24 PM on February 19, 2005

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