Will somebody make a decent low-cost, Android-based Media Player please?

Summary:Archos is planning to release a Android-based MID/Media player with up to 500GB of internal storage by Q3 2009. Cool, but knowing what Archos charges for their current units (~$400) I can't imagine it will be cheap.

Archos is planning to release a Android-based MID/Media player with up to 500GB of internal storage by Q3 2009. Cool, but knowing what Archos charges for their current units (~$400) I can't imagine it will be cheap.

I swore to myself that I would never do this, but I actually went out and bought an Apple product -- a 120GB iPod Classic for my wife Rachel. Steve Jobs and company can now thank one of their most vocal critics for another bread and butter sale. Ka-Ching!

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Now, mind you that Rachel asked for "An MP3 player so I can listen to music and audiobooks". She knows how much I hate Apple equipment for being proprietary, and that I think iTunes is a horrendously bloated and buggy piece of crap, particularly on Windows, and that I would prefer that she would use something that better conforms to more open standards.

So, I looked for something comparable that would store a decent amount of music on it and cost less than $250.00. I shopped around a bit. Yeah, there's the new 120GB Zune, but choosing between an iPod and a Zune is a fairly easy decision, considering that they both now cost the same amount of money. The Zune is $229.95 on Amazon with free priority 2-day shipping (I'm a Prime member) and the iPod Classic is $224.95.

Sure, the Zune has some pretty cool features that are worth considering, such as the XBOX 360 integration (and I don't own an XBOX) and the wireless sync, but in terms of 3rd-party support, it's the developmentally-challenged cousin of the iPod, and from a proprietary/lock-in perspective, they are about par for the course. In terms of evil-ness factor, it's like choosing between Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine (think Sith Lord in a black turtleneck) and Henry F. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life. So given the choice, and if I wasn't going to save a bunch of money by going with a Zune, I chose an iPod. Note to Microsoft: Drop your Zune prices significantly if you expect the throngs to switch.

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For what it's worth, I won't be using the device myself. I use my BlackBerry Bold 9000 with an 8GB Micro-SD card and its robust media playing capabilities as my music player, which I primarily use when I'm traveling -- I carry enough music with me to have a decent selection on a 2 to 4 hour plane ride.

Rachel has a much larger selection of music she likes to listen to so she needs the device to have a much larger capacity -- which is why I didn't choose a less-expensive iPod Nano, a Sandisk Fuze or Sony Walkman either. The 8GB max storage capacity just wasn't going to cut it. It seems that if you want any kind of media player with decent storage capacity, well, you got the iPod Classic, and you got the Zune 120. And that's about it.

Oh, there's the Archos Generation 5 -- indeed a cool machine, and it can have up to 250GB of storage, but now we're really getting pricey. Archos is going to be releasing an Android version of their player towards the end of 2009, but if it's anything like what they sell now, it will hardly be an affordable alternative to the iPod Classic or the Touch.

No, what I'd really like to see is some Korean or Chinese/Taiwanese company come up with a true iPod killer -- $199 or less, with at least 120GB of storage, built-in Wi-Fi, 3.5"-4" screen, and running Android, with the capability to play every major media format for audio and video.  And completely DRM-free.

Is this too much to ask? Do you want an Android-based high-capacity media player device as well? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topics: Google, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Storage


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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