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Pick your music box

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Steve Jobs, who had been gone for nearly a year now due to health-related issues, has come back to announce the launch of new Apple iPods, including a with a built-in camera and FM tuner, and new colours for the iPod Shuffle.

While we shall review these latest iPods soon, other brands like Iriver, Creative, are trying hard to make us look beyond Apple iPods when it comes to MP3 players. With every new product launched in the personal music space, the decision to buy an MP3 player is getting trickier.

SanDisk slotMusic Player
Price: Rs 1,000
SanDisk has added a new twist to listening to digital music with its slotMusic Player that plays from microSD cards, which you can fill yourself or can purchase with DRM-free albums pre-loaded on them. We reviewed both the slotMusic Player and slotMusic cards to weigh the pros and cons of SanDisk’s prescribed style of digital music. This memory-less and screen-less player relies solely on microSD for music playback. The idea is that non-tech savvy users will be able to swap out their purchased slot music albums. Although the company is also selling slotMusic cards loaded with music at about Rs 725, but the distribution of these cards is sparse and certainly non-existent in India. So, the answer is to use your own microSDs (up to 16 GB) loaded with your own music.

Besides headphones, a quick-start guide and an alkaline AAA battery (which the company suggests is good for 15 hours), SanDisk slotMusic packs in an USB 2.0 microSD card reader with a slotMusic album. Each card only comes loaded with one album of MP3s in 320kbps quality, leaving about 800MB free for extra music. With no restrictions, you can simply copy your music onto a MicroSD card, insert it into the player and start listening to your favourite tunes. The player, which costs less than Rs 1,000, feels far from cheap. Its solid metal exteriors lend an impressive look. While we would recommend slotMusic to consumers on the merits of its simplicity, we would also like to add that preloaded slotMusic cards may not be an easy pick for Indian consumers, so be prepared to load your own tunes manually if need be.

iRiver P7
Price: Rs 12,000
To compete with the iPod Touch, Iriver has brought in the iRiver P7. This new MP3 portable has a clean design which iPod lovers can identify with. The P7 PVP is controlled by a 4.3-inch, 480 x 272 resolution touchscreen and has a maximum 16 GB of space for holding music, videos and photos. It also features an integrated FM tuner for listening to your MP3s in the car. Encased in an aluminium case, P7 is not the most comfortable device to carry in your pocket.

The P7 is a touch-based device, which has limited buttons for power, menu and volume. This means that to skip or pause a song, you will have to fish the device out of your pocket and use the touchscreen. The P7’s non-responsive touchscreen also fails to live up to the iPod Touch’s intuitive touch technology. Navigating between playlists, songs and videos can be a pain on P7. A notable advantage of the iRiver P7 is the fact that files can be dragged and dropped straight from a PC or Mac to the player. Without equalisation, music is a bit flat and the bass is muddy, but the P7 comes with the SRS WOW technology that can give the right balance to your music notes. The device costs about Rs 12,000 and is recommended for users those who put style first.

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