Photos: High-capacity flash players
SanDisk Sansa e280
SanDisk Sansa e280 (8GB), e270 (6GB)
Editors' rating: 8.3
The good: The SanDisk Sansa e200 series combines copious features like subscription compatibility, an FM tuner/recorder, voice recording and photo/video playback into a compact, durable device. We like the tactile navigation wheel and well-designed software interface. The user-removable battery and Micro SD slot are nice touches, and the device has decent sound quality, processor performance and battery life. Finally, the series has a maximum base capacity of 8GB and offers a competitive price.
The bad: No AC adapter in package; buttons surrounding the scrollwheel can be difficult to press; mechanical scrollwheel can tire out some thumbs; photos and video must go through conversion with bundled software; the expansion slot can be used with music only, not other media or data; and recordings are made only in WAV. The scrollwheel is not as easy to use as the iPod Click Wheel. Low levels of system noise can be heard through headphones.
The bottom line: The e200 series offers a boatload of features for a reasonable price, in a package that's much nicer than past SanDisk models. For those looking for a high-capacity, compact, skip-free MP3/WMA player, start with the e200 series.
Apple iPod Nano
Editors' rating: 8.3
The good: The iPod Nano has a gorgeous, superslim design with a bright, photo-friendly screen. It is easy to operate and works seamlessly with iTunes and the iTunes Music Store, which has the world's largest selection of music. It boasts a nimble processor and system performance with no skipping, thanks to flash memory.
The bad: The iPod Nano suffers from unspectacular battery life, and though the device is durable, it scratches easily; blemishes show up more drastically on the black version. The Nano is pricey in terms of gigabytes per dollar, and its 4GB maximum capacity is not a good fit for many power users. The player skips many sought-after extra features such as FM radio and A/V-out, and it doesn't work with Camera Connector. The USB power adapter ($29) is not included.
The bottom line: Thanks to its limited capacity, the gorgeous iPod Nano isn't for everybody, but it sets the standard for MP3 players to come.
Samsung YEPP YP-Z5
Editors' rating: 8.0
The good: The PlaysForSure Samsung YP-Z5 outputs clean and punchy sound and won't hog a bunch of real estate in your pocket. Its relatively large, bright color screen is great for viewing photos and navigating well-designed menus. We also like its solid aluminum chassis, sturdy dedicated controls, and extensive sound settings. Battery life is exceptional, though it's much less than the rated 35 hours, and you can simultaneously view photos and listen to music.
The bad: The Samsung YP-Z5's touch pad, due to its varying degrees of sensitivity, can be difficult to deal with, especially when scrolling through menus. The Z5 also lacks some extra features, such as an FM tuner, audio recording, PIM functions, and on-the-go playlists.
The bottom line: If you're looking for a tiny, well-built, color-screen MP3 player with excellent sound, the Samsung YP-Z5 is a great choice. Just make sure that you're comfortable with the touch-pad controller before you buy.
Creative Zen V
Editors' rating: 8.0
The good: The Creative Zen V offers a cute, pocket-friendly design without sacrificing screen real estate, and the vivid OLED display is viewable from any angle. The player packs in some nice features, such as voice and line-in recording, photo playback, and compatibility with subscription WMA tracks. Oh, and the sound quality is great, too.
The bad: The Creative Zen V's joystick is really small and has a cheap feel to it, and we wish Creative had included all the buttons found on the Vision:M. The screen is difficult to see in bright sunlight, and there's no UMS support. Also, you don't get the FM radio and video playback found on the Plus version.
The bottom line: The Creative Zen V is a good choice for anyone looking for a compact flash MP3 player with recording features and great sound quality. However, the more feature-filled Zen V Plus is a better value.
Meizu Mini Player
Editors' rating: 7.3
The good: The nicely designed Meizu Mini Player has a large, bright display and offers a variety of desirable features such as video playback and an FM radio; good sound quality.
The bad: The Meizu Mini Player has a variety of quirks that not all users will find enticing; doesn't display album art or support protected digital music.
The bottom line: The Meizu Mini Player is a quality MP3 player with a sleek design, good sound, and useful features, but fans of DRM-hawking music stores should steer clear.