Dear Lifehacker, I was on the verge of buying another iPod (my fourth) when I stopped myself. Of my three previous iPods two have been irreparably damaged by relatively minor things, not to mention the usual issues that come with iPod territory. Is my best choice to get another iPod or are there other options that I just haven't considered because I'm brainwashed to think they're the ONLY mp3 player worth getting these days? Thanks, PodPerson
iPods certainly aren't the only MP3 players on the market right now, although you could be forgiven for that observation; they're just about the only MP3 players left that get particular shelf space. Still, there are other players in this market; Sony still sells Walkman-branded Mp3 players if you're after something branded, and online stores are awash with no-brand-name players at very cheap prices — although whether you'd have better durability luck with some of those is a rather interesting question.
Another thought to ponder; Apple has just announced "new" iPods this morning, but with the exception of the 2GB Shuffles, none of them will be on store shelves until October. That means there are reasonable odds that the older models will become run-out stock; you could pick up an iPod from a previous generation more cheaply that way; that's also worth considering if you preferred the older watch-style iPod Nano face to the new design as well.
Really, though, the market has shifted on largely from "pure" MP3 players into smartphones, and unless you're after a player for fitness purposes, where small and light makes a lot of sense, you could do quite well with any of the cheaper Android-based smartphones on the market right now; as long as they've got microSD expansion you could bump them up to the same size as any iPod quite cheaply, and naturally they'll do a bit more than just play music.
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