Ask LH: What’s A Good Device Choice For Exercise Music?

Ask LH: What’s A Good Device Choice For Exercise Music?

Hi Lifehacker, I’m looking to improve my work-life balance and exercise more, so I want the right device to acquire, store and play music on. With Walkmans long gone and the iPod apparently being phased out, what’s the best choice? I’m particularly keen to be able to download playlists and new music that I haven’t encountered. Thanks, Mr Unsound

Exercise picture from Shutterstock

Dear Mr Unsound,

For the record, the iPod itself isn’t disappearing completely — the high-capacity drive-based iPod classic has been discontinued, but the other models are continuing. There are also lots of other MP3 players around, some of which are very cheap indeed.

However, in your situation we suspect that a better solution would be to use a smartphone rather than a dedicated music player. This has several advantages. Because it’s a multi-purpose device, you can also use fitness apps to track your progress (and take emergency phone calls if you’re out jogging).

Given that you’re keen to access new music, we’d recommend using a streaming music service such as Spotify. This gives you a wide range of tracks, and the ability to check out recommendations from others. Listening to streaming music doesn’t use an enormous amount of data, but if that’s a concern, you can sign up for Spotify Premium, which lets you download tracks as well. You can also easily transfer all your existing music files to the device.

Almost any smartphone will fit the bill for these purposes. We’d lean slightly towards Android, if only because Android devices allow you to add extra capacity via an SD card if you want to store a lot of music. Check out Gizmodo’s current recommendations for the best smartphones for some ideas. Enjoy your exercise!

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I find phones too bulky to run/exercise with.

    I use a 4th generation iPod Shuffle. It’s small, easy to use and clips on to my shirt/shorts. Importantly, because it uses a flash drive, I can run without it ruining the drive (I messed up my iPod classic doing this).

  • I would recommend a dedicated mp3 player over a phone. I get a lot more use out of my Sandisk Clip+ over my Iphone. Here’s some pros and cons.

    – Smaller and lighter than a phone. No bouncing around in your pocket if you wear loose shorts like me.
    – Expandable memory. A 64GB Iphone is $130 more expensive than a 16GB one. A 64GB microSDXC Class 10 UHS-I is $60. More memory for half the price. Plus the option of upgrading.
    – Physical buttons so you can skip a track without having to stop your workout and pull out your phone.
    – No need for Itunes. You can use whatever music app you want on your PC to sync with.
    – Price. A new Iphone starts at $869, a new Sansa mp3 player starts at $40.
    – Micro USB cable instead of Lightning cable.
    – Better interface. Advanced options. The Iphone Music app is very basic and does strange things like sorting by date instead of alphabetically. The Sandisk interface is much simpler, yet also has more features.
    – Longer battery life.
    – Better sound quality. I’ve always been disappointed in the sound quality of Apple devices.

    – Single-purpose device. It’s just a media player.
    – No streaming media.

    • This.
      Sanza Clip has physical buttons which are much easier to operate than a touch screen when you are running or working out. Battery life is around 20 hours and it only weighs about 20g.

  • I used to have a string quartet follow me around…didn’t work so well, but the ipod sounds useful.

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