MP3 players with excellent battery life?
December 16, 2014 2:57 PM   Subscribe

My beloved ipod nano (4th gen) has finally died after a solid 6 year run. What are my options for a replacement?

-battery life >6h continuous audio, absolute bare minimum (12h+ strongly preferred)
-screen sufficient to see track names and scroll to new songs (indifferent to colour/video)
-well under 200$
-not a phone
-8GB capacity was fine, but wouldn't like to go lower

-much longer battery (ipod was great at first, would go on for days...not as great in the end but even then never died during the day on a full charge)
-durable (I will drop it SO many times, I promise you...everything I had before the ipod broke within a year)
-as cheap as possible

Bonus if:
-no itunes or other software needed
-small enough to fit happily in female-sized pockets (ipod was great since it was so slim)
-higher capacity (I love the ones with a microSD slot allowing upgrades)
-user friendly, easy to navigate, etc

For reference my old ipod was pretty much ideal in every way except price, and having to deal with itunes. Otherwise I'd just get the newest nano, which doesn't look too awful (~150$ CAD for 16GB, could be worse but still more expensive than I'd prefer). No idea if the battery life is still good on the new models anyway.

From reading past threads here and reviews elsewhere, the Sansa Clip+ seems like an excellent choice, and is very cheap. However, not many people mention battery life in the threads here, and a number of reviews (ex) specifically mention problems with battery life, with reviews ranging wildly from "dies after 3h" (totally unacceptable) to "great battery life" or "not the advertised 15h but still gets 8-10h" or "usually lasts all day" (not ideal, but acceptable). It seems like the batteries on the Clip+ might not have great quality control, so it's variable?

Battery life is the most important factor for me, with cost a close second - I want something that I can listen to for an entire workday without stopping to charge it (i.e. minimum 6h, but ideally also the longer days, like 12h or more). I will only be using it to play mp3s, with the screen on the dimmest setting, but shuffle/scroll around to find songs a LOT (pretty much between every song).

It seems like a lot of people on here own/have owned the Clip+. Can anyone give me more details about the battery life they've gotten with it, or similar models like the Zip or Fuze? Will the battery life of the clip+ drive me to madness or is it tolerable? Is it worth paying an extra 20-30$ to get a Fuze or Zip, especially battery-wise? Anyone with experience of the battery life of the newest iPod nano, for comparison? Any alternative suggestions? Thanks!
posted by randomnity to Shopping (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I really wish I could get you a Zune HD - it's an amazing little item and you would not regret having it. If you do a quick search online and find one for your price range, I highly recommend that. Not joking - it really is a wonderful little device.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:46 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have a Clip+. I'm on my 3rd in about 3-4 years (one lost, one broken headphone jack when it fell 10' and landed on the jack). I use the 4GB model with a 32GB microSD card. As to how long the battery lasts, I generally listen in shorter bursts (<1 hour each way while commuting), and a charge will last me through the week.

When I forget to plug it in at home to recharge, I recently discovered that plugging it in to a portable usb battery (like this one) will let it play and recharge at the same time, so if you need super-long battery life I would suggest picking up an external battery.
posted by fings at 3:53 PM on December 16, 2014

Best answer: I have a Cowon D2+ that lasts about 20hrs, I got a 32gb card in it so it's got a big number of tracks. Not sure if they still make 'em, but I've had quite a few Cowons over the years, and their sound quality is good, battery life very decent.

The internal memory on mine can be accessed simply via usb, and now that I got an external card for it, I just copy tracks onto the sd card and that's about it.
posted by TrinsicWS at 4:28 PM on December 16, 2014

I actually came in to also suggest a zune. Lovely players. Sound good. Easy to use. Pretty. Outstanding battery life. Zune HD or zune mini. Pretty easy to find used or old new-in-box
posted by chasles at 4:30 PM on December 16, 2014

The Sansa Clip+ is an amazing workhorse. Get one.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:59 PM on December 16, 2014

Best answer: I've been using a Clip Sport for over a year and love it - it has a slightly larger screen size than the standard Clip, so puts it closer to exactly meeting your requirements, though longer song titles will still get cut off.

In every other respect, though, it fits - the 8 gig model runs ~$50, has excellent battery life (I typically get 12-15+ hours per charge), has an SD card slot for expansion, is about the size of a matchbox, has simple menus, and I've dropped it multiple times - several times while running - without breaking it.

I use mine like an external drive - plug it in, open up its music folder, and drag files in and out. No additional software needed.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:44 PM on December 16, 2014

The newest iPod nano is $149 and if you bring your old one in to an Apple Store, they'll give you 10% off. That's if you want to or have to stick with the iTunes system.

I only bring it up because I had a friend recently move from an iPod to a Sansa, and she was surprised and horribly disappointed to find out that iTunes would not recognize the Sansa, and she'd have to manually copy files to it, or use another third-party music manager. Not exactly surprising to a tech-savvy geek, but maybe not to everyone. Just wanted to point that out if you hadn't considered it.
posted by bhayes82 at 8:04 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mediamonkey can do the equivalent of a sync to mp3 players like the Clip, and is several orders of magnitude better than iTunes.
posted by rfs at 8:21 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

the battery in your iPod nano is replaceable with an even better battery. The part is about $9 and there are plenty of services you can pay to do the work, it's also doable as a DIY project.

battery is here
posted by bobdow at 10:36 PM on December 16, 2014

Best answer: Honestly, I'd look for an old used Creative Zen Nano Plus mp3 player, one of the early ones before bluetooth. They run on AAA batteries, get a good 10 hours easily (18 often), and is essentially just a USB drive plus a DAC, FM radio, headphone outs, and a tiny LCD screen that scrolls the song title and artist by. There's nominally some software that it can use, but since I use a mac, I just toss the files into the folders and go.

I've had it for eight years now, it still works perfectly and is nigh indestructible. It gives good sound, and if I had to replace it, I'd look for another USB mp3 stick — the Zen Nano's been discontinued, but you can get equivalents for about $20 on Amazon.
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 AM on December 17, 2014

Best answer: I have one of these Walkmans. The battery life is really good; I use it to play music overnight sometimes, and it will last 2 or 3 nights in a row before needing to charge, but I'm not shuffling. The reviews on Amazon seem to indicate over 12 hours for most people. On a mac or PC, you can just plug it in via USB and drag the mp3s over - no software needed; this is the main reason I use it over using my iPhone. It's so much easier than iTunes.
posted by bluefly at 5:29 AM on December 17, 2014

Best answer: I own a Rockboxed Clip+ but I use it for home listening, so I never really paid attention to battery life. Having said that, Rockbox just recently received a patch that substantially improves the battery life of the Clip+ and Zip models (Sport is a totally different hardware, too underpowered to ever run a Rockbox port).

Runtimes for the Clip+, seems to easily achieve 12+ hours when playing MP3s, which is one of the more optimised widely used codecs in Rockbox. Also note that those runtimes are pre-patch, they're much better now.

The Clip+ comes with 8GB internal storage for well below $100 and can be expanded with however large a microSD card you can find, as long as it's FAT32 formatted.
posted by Bangaioh at 5:32 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: i came here to second clip+. And definitely do not get the "upgraded" Clip Zip.
The genius of the clip+ apart for the clip is the OLED screen and cheapness (seen as low as $20 for refurb 8gb) and durable (mine has fallen on concrete floors multiple times without scratches). In addition , the Microsd expansion can add up to 32gb.
Amazon rates 15 hours of playback although I have not tested it. The battery life is good enough that on a recent international trip.. i did not have to charge it between using it in the flight , in the country and back.

And to compare to clip(previous generation), it has a better clip, larger screen and much improved navigation.
posted by radsqd at 7:17 AM on December 17, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the info - I'll look into the alternative suggestions mentioned here, but I'm reassured about the clip+ now so I'm leaning towards that (50$ on amazon is hard to beat for something so well-reviewed).

I especially like the USB battery idea, since I had no idea such a thing existed (and would allow playback at the same time)...looks like a cheap and easy fix if I do find the battery life lacking. And the rockbox thing is useful information as well.

Re: my old iPod, the battery is actually ok, I'm afraid it just has a terminal case of being dropped one too many times. It's amazing it's lasted this long with so much mistreatment. I could look into getting it repaired but I can probably get a new mp3 player for cheaper than the repair cost, considering its age and general poor condition (the glass layer on top of the screen shattered a few years ago on one of its many drops, for example).
posted by randomnity at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2014

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