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Samsung YP-U2 (512MB)2. Samsung YP-U2 (512MB)
The good: The affordable Samsung YP-U2 is a supercompact MP3 player with a convenient plug-in USB design; it includes an FM tuner, a voice recorder, subscription compatibility, a legible LCD, and an intuitive interface. Plus, it features an extensive set of equalizer and DSP sound settings. Sound quality is quite impressive, but there is a caveat.
The bad: We're not thrilled with the placement of the headphone jack, the so-so battery life, the subpar voice-recording quality, and the audible clicks when starting or stopping a song. Additionally, the Samsung YP-U2 does not ship with a lanyard or an armband, and it currently maxes out at 512MB.
The bottom line: Despite some minor issues, the simple but feature-friendly YP-U2 from Samsung will be a hot seller, thanks to a sweet price and great overall sound quality. It's a good choice for budget-minded users looking for their first MP3 player.
Sony NW-E105 Network Walkman (512MB)3. Sony NW-E105 Network Walkman (512MB)
The good: Fantastic battery life; inexpensive; solid sound quality; gets really loud; innovative rocking faceplate controls.
The bad: No FM tuner or recording options; inelegant software; must use SonicStage app to transfer songs.
The bottom line: Budget-conscious music fans who want more than the Apple iPod Shuffle has to offer will be pleased with Sony's NW-E100 flash players.
Cowon iAudio G2 (1GB)4. Cowon iAudio G2 (1GB)
The good: The Cowon iAudio G2 delivers great sound quality and sound-enhancement options, plays protected WMA files, and features line-in recording.
The bad: The Cowon iAudio G2 is a bit large for a flash-based player, lacks an FM tuner, and most notably, uses the slow USB 1.1 protocol for transfers.
The bottom line: The Cowon iAudio G2's terrific audio quality and ease of use overcome its lack of USB 2.0 connectivity.