[SP] Comparison of the world’s most popular mini MP3 players, head to head

This post is paid for and written by Neil.


The first generation of MP3 players were big, clunky, and they had very poor battery life. They couldn’t hold very many files (songs, podcasts, audio recordings, etc.), either, due to their small hard drives. Over time, MP3 players got smaller, faster, and more responsive. The creation of small flash memory modules also helped to improve battery life and increase the amount of storage space in these MP3 players.

Today, there are dozens of mini MP3 players available to buy. Each is small in size, has long battery life, and can store hundreds of files (songs, podcasts, audio recordings, etc.). However, each mini MP# player has its own strengths and weaknesses. This article will take a close look at 5 of the most popular mini MP3 players — Sansa Clip Zip vs Sony Walkman E-Series vs iRiver S100 vs Creative Zen X-Fi 3 vs iPod Nano.

Sansa_Clip_ZipSansa Clip Zip

Made by Sandisk, an electronics company that specialises in producing flash memory modules, the Sansa Clip Zip has quickly become the mini MP3 player of choice for enthusiast audiophiles. Apart from being one of the smallest mini MP3 players on the market, the Sansa Clip Zip also has a few other strengths that have attracted the enthusiast crowd:

  • Firstly, with its ability to accept micro SD cards, the Sansa Clip Zip’s memory can be extended to hold up to 72GB of files.
  • Secondly, the Sansa Clip Zip can last up to 20 hours on a single charge.
  • And finally, the Sansa Clip Zip has an excellent digital audio chip capable of producing incredibly high quality sound.

Unfortunately, the main weakness of the Sansa Clip Zip is its poor build quality. These devices rarely last longer than 6 months without breaking.

2013-03-15_180808Sony Walkman E-Series

Sony created a revolution when it released the original Walkman in the early 80s. Never before had portable music been so accessible. With the Sony Walkman E-Series, Sony is hoping to cause another revolution, this time in the mini MP3 player space.

The Walkman E-Series is a beautifully designed mini MP3 player with a long battery life. It is also able to hold up to 16gbs of files. The E-Series has support for drag and drop functionality, too, making it incredibly simple to transfer music to the E-Series. The E-Series also has an excellent digital audio chip that is capable of producing very high quality sound.

Unfortunately, the E-Series has a few problems that prevent it from being a perfect device. Rather than using a standard cable connector like micro-usb or mini-usb, Sony decided to create their own proprietary cable for the E-Series. Unfortunately, this cable is rather flimsy and it can be expensive to replace. The screen on the E-Series has rather poor viewing angles, too, which can make album art look washed out at times.

2013-03-15_180930iRiver S100

iRiver’s latest mini MP3 player, the S100, promises to have every feature you could ever need in an MP3 player.

As well as the ability to play MP3s, FLAC, and other audio formats, the S100 comes built in with a DAB radio and an FM radio allowing for radio listening on the go. Unfortunately, the DAB radio contained in the S100 has difficulty picking up DAB stations at times which greatly reduces its usefulness.

Still, the S100 is an excellent mini MP3 player with a high quality digital audio chip, long battery life, and large amounts of storage space. An intuitive touchscreen interface also ensures that navigating through the S100’s menu system is a breeze.

2013-03-15_181055Creative Zen X-Fi 3

Creative were one of the first companies to enter the MP3 market with their Zen players. Over time, Creative built themselves a reputation for creating high quality MP3 players with excellent sound quality and build quality. The Creative Zen X-Fi 3 is Creative’s latest mini MP3 player.

Like the other MP3 players mentioned in this article, the Zen X-Fi 3 has long battery life and excellent sound quality. However, unlike the majority of the other MP3 players listed, it also has micro SD support and the ability to playback music wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled headphones.

Unfortunately, where the Zen X-Fi 3 fails is with its dated, clunky user interface. While the user interface is functional, it can be difficult to use and uncooperative at times.

2013-03-15_181154iPod Nano

Apple reinvented the MP3 player when it released the original iPod. Never before had an MP3 player been so sleek and easy to use. Apple once again reinvented the MP3 player when it released the iPod Nano, a tiny MP3 player capable of holding hundreds of songs. Now in its 7th generation, Apple’s latest iPod Nano is the best one yet.

Apple has managed to fit the 7th gen Nano with a responsive touchscreen and a simple, intuitive, easy to use user interface. Apple has also managed to make the iPod Nano even smaller than its predecessor meaning the iPad Nano is the thinnest iPod yet.

The 7th gen Nano also has a number of extra features, including Nike+ support, bluetooth support, and the ability to connect to Apple’s iTunes software. The latest Nano also comes bundled with Apple’s newest Earpods headphones.

Unfortunately, the 7th gen Nano is not a perfect device. Its touchscreen is rather low in resolution which can make album art look poor at times. The 7th gen Nano is also the most expensive mini MP3 player on the market.

Conclusion

All of the mini MP3 players listed in this article are excellent devices with their own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to compare them against one another to discover which is the best fit for your needs.

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6 comments

  1. mukhi

    i have one from sony (not the E-gen but looks pretty much similar) but the major drawback i find is that this player turns on if it gets pressed in the front (i have armband)!!! other than that, it is excellent and way more acceptable to me than my wife’s ipod touch/video ipod. no itunes, only drag-n-drop. and yes, micro USB.
    i have owned thumb look-like iriver 128 MB player with FM and voice recorder. sound quality was great, too.

  2. Mags

    Well folks, believe it or not I still have the original iPod Shuffle. You know that small white player (about the size of a large flash/thumb drive) that is 512 mb in size.

    It suits me just fine, and I’m not the only one, I’ve seen a few other people still using them.

  3. RealBull

    I love iRiver. I bought an iRiver E30, 8GB, but it was in a bargain bin for $20! I love it because it can play FLAC files. Not many players can do that. I think it is terrible that popular expensive portables like iPod & Sony only play a limited amount of file formats, some only MP3 and/or WMV.

  4. rjh

    Clearly, the author is not familiar with the previous generation Nano (6th) as that really was the best version :-) and it was very much smaller than the current version, which IMHO is a step backwards. People who handle the 6th gen Nano are always amazed; it is like a piece of jewelery.

    And why no mention of Cowon? They are a reasonably popular player and the build and audio quality is excellent; absolutely superb.