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Gift a music player this Christmas!

By Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi
December 12, 2006 12:15 IST
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Apple: Take a standard credit card. Now, trim the long side of the card by 20 per cent. That's all the space you need to hold over 1,000 songs, plus audio books, podcasts and photos if you buy Apple Computer's newest iPod model, the gorgeous and sleek iPod Nano - at least that's what Apple claims.

An 80GB iPod (hard disk-based) is the best deal for those who cannot compromise on music and is priced onwards of Rs 17,000. You can stockpile up to 20,000 songs (approx 4 minutes each) which sums up to 1,333 hours of uninterrupted music - almost two months of non-stop music 24x7 without any repetition.

iPod Nano is about the thickness of five credit cards stacked on top of one another. Yet, the Nano, which starts at around $199 for the 2 GB model and $249 for 4 GB, includes a sharp colour screen, the ability to display the album covers for the songs it is playing and store a user's photos and display them in slide shows accompanied by music.

In addition to playing music, the iPod can download and play back podcasts (audio files that are automatically delivered directly to your computer and can be transferred to your iPod or other MP3 players) and can be used to store photos and play videos besides being used as a portable hard disk (applies to other MP3 players too).

Sony has repeatedly given some good-looking contraptions. Walkman Bean is an extremely attractive-looking MP3 player. It's ergonomic shape slips nicely into your hand, making it the perfect travel companion. It comes in hip colours like licorice black, cotton candy pink, tropical ice blue and coconut white but with only 512 MB of built-in memory, there is barely any space for music.

An FM tuner lends some solace and so does the built-in USB connector, which allows data transfer without the use of a cord. A price tag of Rs 4,500 could prove attractive.

Sony's Sports Walkman is another design triumph. A tubular digital music player aimed at joggers and exercisers equipping them with 'iPoddian' features at a modest price range of Rs 5,000-8,000. There's an FM tuner too in case you tire of the songs that you have transferred using Sony's SonicStage application. The devices come with black, sports style headphones and an armband, which look very chic.

Microsoft: Although Microsoft took a year to get the product to market, it is essentially a retagged Toshiba Gigabeat unit with some changes to its software and outside packaging. The Zune does not match the iPod in all respects, barring its larger video screen.

With a limited 30 GB capacity and diminutive battery life, video is hardly the unit's prime application. The first-generation Zune lacks an intuitive interface.

The software is buggy and its music store has a limited selection as compared to iTunes. The Zune does have two things the iPod does not have - a built in FM tuner and Wi-Fi-based music sharing feature that enables wireless transfer of songs. Available only in a 30GB configuration and bulkier than a 30GB iPod, it is priced at around Rs 13,000.

Sandisk: The Sansa comes the closest to emulating the iPod's navigation simplicity. Apple's scroll-wheel approach has a close competitor in Sansa.

It comes in three sizes: 2GB - e250; 4GB - e260 and 6GB - e270, and prices oscillate between Rs 11,000-14,000. At thickness of 13 mm, it is nearly twice as deep as Apple's bulimic little player (Nano). The reason for this is simple, it has oodles more functionality and the major brownie point is the video.

Creative Zen, on the other hand, is only the size of a large biscuit, but it packs in 4GB of memory and at Rs 9,500 is not too expensive. The display is medium-sized and clear, with bright colours that make it easy to see what's going on.

The colour schemes can be changed using the onscreen menus. Music can be transferred to the player using the Windows Media Player or the drag-and-drop feature of Windows.

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Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi
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