User Friendly MP3 Player
February 17, 2007 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Which MP3 player will have controls & a screen that will allow me to choose which podcast to pay, switch from one function to another reliably? My Creative Zen Nano doesn't do it for me and I need another player with a more easily used controls. A larger unit is okay, size is not so important. Price is a factor. Is there a place, website, store where one can actually handle and test players?
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Shopping (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'll throw the obvious out there: iPod. I can choose exactly which podcasts are synced and which to play. I really love my iPod Nano, the 2GB version of which is quite affordable, especially if podcasts are the main listening goal. I don't know what you mean by "switch from one function to another reliably", but my unit has never had unreliable functionality, for what it's worth, and the controls really are superlative.
posted by The Michael The at 8:34 AM on February 17, 2007

As far as being able to handle and test an iPod before you use it, Apple stores have all their models out and running on displays...they encourage customers to play with them.

On rare occasions, I've seen a similar setup for Creative's product line at Fry's, however, it was a traveling roadshow staffed by Creative employees, not a permanent fixture of the store.
posted by jamaro at 8:38 AM on February 17, 2007

Yeah, iPod seems to be the consensus benchmark, easily-used-controls-wise. As price is a factor, you might consider a refurbished model.

As for handling and testing, most of the big-box electronics stores, or the ones around me anyway, have mp3 players on display. If you haven't visited the local Best Buy/CompUSA/Circuit City/whatnot, it might be worth a shot.
posted by box at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2007

The zen nano is a very limited mp3 player. The iPod Nano or the IRiver Clix would what I would recommend most strongly. There has to be someone you know that would have a Nano you could try out. The things are absolutely ubiquitous. The IRiver Clix though O would really try and test out before you make a decision. Lots of people really like the interface, and the thing even out-sexies the nano in my opinion.
posted by I Foody at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2007

If you're having trouble with the Zen then you'll probably have trouble with the iPod, not because the iPod (or Zen) sucks, but just because the trend is one way in MP3 players--smaller and fewer buttons, with more features... (Hint: I found the "wheel" thing to be really annoying, almost impossible to pick the song I wanted at first try, but I also can't really recommend my MP3 player--it works for me but definitely not for you.)

Go try an iPod out in a store before you buy it, and spend as much time as they'll let you playing with it. If that doesn't work out for you then you may have to look at working outside the MP3 player--organizing your podcasts on your computer or using playlists so that you need a minimum of button presses to do what you want.
posted by anaelith at 9:12 AM on February 17, 2007


I've ran into this problem as well after visiting few of the electronic stores [bb, cc, staples, and office depot are the main ones by me). IIRC, some of the stores did have some models on display (about 10 or so to choose from, mainly creative zen, zune, sandisk, and ipods). I do remember circuit city had a larger variety of them for sale, but they weren't on display to try out.

However, I couldn't really test them out at those stores. At the local Office Depot, they had a Sandisk player, enclosed in a plastic box affixed to the shelf, and you couldn't even hold it in your hand or touch the side buttons to change the volume, etc.
I remember at a couple other stores, the players weren't even on nor could you turn them on (probably on battery and weren't charged).

If you want to test ipod's, definitely visit the apple store. They have all of their models to test out, with music on them, and the employees are receptive to answer your questions and let you try them out for a while.

(FYI, I didn't get one because they don't play OGG's, and I didn't care for the "artist>album>song" menu set-up).

For as much as the internet's variety of a product, the ability to try them out beforehand has been futile for me.

If anyone knows of ways to test them out besides your friends' units,

/end rant.
posted by fizzix at 10:33 AM on February 17, 2007

and I didn't care for the "artist>album>song" menu set-up

In due diligence, I should point out that you can customize the main menu such that "albums" or "songs," or even "podcasts" can be right on the main screen.
posted by The Michael The at 11:22 AM on February 17, 2007

Try the Vision:M from Creative. I just got it, and I absolutely adore the searching and scrolling features. Plus you can set the sensativity of the scroll pad lower, so you won't over scroll. I also like their alphabetical search feature, so you can either scan an entire list or scan it by alphabet on the same screen. Also, the Vision:M has more buttons, and they are actual tactile buttons, which is wonderful. I'm a big fan. (Plus the screen is INSANELY vivid and bright.)
posted by nursegracer at 11:51 AM on February 17, 2007

Of all the reviews I've read, I always hear iPod mentioned for it's great user interface. And, like others have mentioned, you can handle one at most of the big electronic stores. If this isn't feasible, I'm sure Apple or Amazon will allow you to return the item within 30 days or so (unless you get it engraved).
posted by keith0718 at 3:35 PM on February 17, 2007

The killer feature that the iPod brings to podcasts is that it remembers your place in the file, and that is the case no matter how many podcasts you may have started to listen to. While I have encountered bookmarking on other players, (and I've used a ton), I don't know of any others can do this.
I also have an enormous archive of ripped radio shows (Ron & Fez anyone?) that I load up a month at a time,
and simply set the parameter in iTunes to 'remember place in file'. Greatest feature ever.
posted by exparrot at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2007

I have a Zen Microphoto and love it to death, the only problem is lack of mp4 capability. As a result, I believe the Vision:M would be fantastic, as it seems to be the natural progression from the Microphoto. It has completely different controls to the Neeon, and I don't blame you when you say it isn't doing it for you.
posted by cholly at 10:12 PM on February 17, 2007

If you haven't decided already, I recommend taking a look at iRiver. They started using the vertical touch scroll long before Apple decided it was a revolution to use it for the iPhone (sorry, but a circular scroll makes no sense to me), and it is not crippled by DRM.
Then, if you want more functionality, you can try out rockbox which is an open firmware for a whole range of mp3 players. I use it on my h340, and it makes it a whole lot more usable, though my brother went back to the normal iRiver firmware on his h10.
posted by opsin at 9:23 AM on February 18, 2007

nth the Vision:M, I got one at right around christmas for like $169 shipped, between their rebate, the google checkout, and the already lower-than-usual-price.

Pro's: no DRM issues, plays xvid/divx/etc, no iTunes to fight with, about 10x the colors of the 30Gb video ipod, can grab and sync whatever podcasts you tell it to--the Zen-cast feature is pretty hawt, actually, and it remembers your place and knows what you've played.

Mine makes the iPod fans crai when I pull it out...
posted by TomMelee at 7:18 AM on February 19, 2007

« Older What to do in LA?   |   Help me find a missing TAL episode Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.