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News   - 12/03/2006

Apple's iPod is still king, but there are more alternatives

Digital music players have been hot gifts for a few years but until now, it's been a category mostly dominated by Apple Computer and its line of iPod players.

This holiday season, the iPod gets fresh competition: Microsoft's Zune player, priced at $249, and Real Networks' Sansa, at prices ranging from $139 to $249.

The Zune's main selling point is the ability to wirelessly share music with other Zune owners; the Sansa's pitch is that it is designed to let subscribers of Real's music service, called Rhapsody, carry around an always-fresh mix of tunes that they can download from a library of more than 2.5 million tracks.

Cool, yes. But those two new players are challenging a famously easy-to-use product that most users seem to like. For gift-givers who want to stick with the iPod world, there are more choices than ever.

The most expensive iPod, the kind with the video playback and 80 gigabytes of storage space, costs $349; the smaller Nano starts at $149; the tiny Shuffle, which doesn't even have a screen, is down to $79.

Hard-disk players such as the iPod and Zune have the highest capacities, but are easily damaged with a lot of shaking. Flash players, such as the Zen Nano Plus from Creative Technology and the iRiver T30, don't have the same sort of moving parts inside. That makes them a better buy for exercise nuts - and kids.


Source: Everett Herald    
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