Mp3 players for cheap people
November 23, 2007 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy my dad a bargain-bin mp3 player for Christmas.

I'm looking for an mp3 player for my dad. The problem with buying a player of this caliber is that I don't know where to find accurate reviews, because I run in circles that would shun the kind of player that would make him happy. :)

If I get him something that's way beyond what he needs, he'll actually chide me for being wasteful and think less of the gift. Honestly, he's only going to want to have somewhere between 50 and 100 songs with him at a time. As long as pop, smooth jazz and big band are not tinny-sounding and it doesn't croak for at least a year, he'll be happy.

He's on the older side: not technologically stupid at all, but likely to see something he has to train himself too much to use as a waste of time. So, something where it's very easy to get the songs on it.

He uses iTunes on his computer for playback of mp3s, and he likes being able to rate his songs and play the highest-rated ones first, but if that's going to add significantly to the cost, he'd be the first to say that he doesn't love the feature that much.

I was hoping to spend under $30, but if I can't get what I'm describing for under $30, then just recommend me a player and tell me what my damage is and I won't tell him what I put down. :) He's had a rough year and deserves this.
posted by RobotHeart to Shopping (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just bought a Creative Labs Zen Stone. It was about £20 here in the UK. 1Gb capacity, sounds fine to me, and the interface is very simple. Charges straight from USB and you just drag on whatever songs you want and it either plays them in a loop or shuffle. You can also use folders to group songs together.
posted by crocomancer at 6:10 AM on November 23, 2007

I looove my zen stone. I got the crappier version, sans screen, for around $30. It's no problem as long as you know what songs you will be listening to, and works like a normal usb, you just have a "music" folder that pops up and you drag music into it. Works on mac, linux, and pc (for me at least). There's a nicer version with a screen and more gigs, but honestly, 1g is way more than 50-100 songs.
posted by shownomercy at 6:13 AM on November 23, 2007

He's already using iTunes? Why not just get a refurbished Shuffle? They're $49 on the Apple website, or you can probably find them even cheaper on eBay.
posted by wick47 at 6:30 AM on November 23, 2007

I have a battered, well-loved MPIO FY500. It's great, and cost little to buy. Works the same as the Zen stone, that shownomercy has described above. And the best thing? It takes an unbelievable licking (I'm rough with my music players), and keeps on ticking.
posted by LN at 6:41 AM on November 23, 2007

As said, refurb shuffle for $49 is going to be hard to beat.
posted by The Deej at 6:43 AM on November 23, 2007

Get him whatever you think is best at YOUR price range, and tell him it cost 1/3rd as much because it's refurbished, discounted, etc.
posted by signal at 7:02 AM on November 23, 2007

I was going to recommend a refurbished Sansa. I just bought a 2 gig Sansa for I think $30 from Woot and it has a nice color screen and a good UI. But if he is on iTunes maybe the shuffle is the way to go. Though I have seen some Black Friday deals with minis real cheap.
posted by LarryC at 7:06 AM on November 23, 2007

Check out the Sansa Clip.
posted by 4ster at 7:36 AM on November 23, 2007

If he is already using iTunes and does not want to learn a new software I would bite the bullet and get him a shuffle or even a nano. Ease of use is one of the best features of these players.
posted by caddis at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: I second the refurbished shuffle suggestion - or for even cheaper, go to ebay for a used, older generation shuffle (if you think a used present would be ok for him - they often come with their boxes and in good shape though). You should definitely be able to find something in the $30 range.

Otherwise, keep an eye on - in addition to good prices, there's the community forum feature where tons of people comment and it's possible to ask questions about the product of the day, so it's like an instant review.

For reviews generally, just google the name of the product and review. Amazon and Cnet are my favorite random review sources.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:28 AM on November 23, 2007

A first generation ipod nano would fit the bill. I just poked around on ebay and saw a few for ~50, but you can probably look harder and find some cheaper.

They originally came in 1Gig, 2Gig, 4Gig (and maybe 8...) sizes. For the quanitity of songs he's talking about he only needs a 1Gig.

The benefits over a shuffle: a screen, ability to rate songs.
posted by cschneid at 11:50 AM on November 23, 2007

Second the first generation iPod Nano—I still use my 2Gb one and love it very much. They are tiny and the UI is wonderfully intuitive.
posted by lia at 12:00 PM on November 23, 2007

Sandisk also makes little USB 1Gig players for $19. The display and navigation is OK, and your dad will probably appreciate that it takes a AAA battery instead of needing to be plugged in.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2007

I'm really happy with my 1gb Sansa player I got for $30 about 3 years ago. I tend to trash the things using them in the gym and in various sports, but this one has lasted longer than most.

Looks like you can pick up a 2gb right now for $35 after rebate. link.
posted by Manjusri at 7:40 PM on November 24, 2007

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