[tab:Intro][flagallery gid=1 name="CrunchGear Gift Guide 2009"]
The common portable media player has a tough existence. It’s expected to handle many tasks well, while being rugged enough to withstand daily (ab)use. It’s expected to look nice, it’s expected to provide more-than-decent battery life, and it’s expected to provide a simple enough interface that it can be operated almost exclusively while on the go. If the world’s greatest mom were a consumer electronics device, she’d be a portable media player.
And while there’s no shortage of portable media players in existence, here’s a quick list of some worthy gift options (in no particular order).
Archos 5 Internet Tablet: Starting at $379.99 (Archos.com)
A device with a nearly unlimited potential thanks to the inclusion of the Android operating system, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet is part media player, part web browser, part digital video recorder, part GPS system, part game player… you get the idea.
Available in 32GB, 160GB, and 500GB for $380, $400, and $500, respectively.
Apple iPod touch: Starting at $199 (Apple.com)
The iPod touch may very well be the reigning king of portable media players with its slick interface, great web browser, and a direct pipeline into the most popular mobile applications store around.
Available in 8GB, 32GB, and 64GB for $199, $299, and $399, respectively. The 32GB and 64GB models feature voice control and faster processors than the 8GB version.
Microsoft Zune HD: Starting at $219 (Zune.net)
Not content to let Apple have all the fun, Microsoft’s recent makeover of its Zune line of digital media players has produced an attractive contender in the Zune HD.
Available in 16GB and 32GB for $219 and $289, respectively.
Sony X Series Walkman: Starting at $299.95 (SonyStyle.com)
The inventor of the portable audio player is at it again with the new X Series Walkman, featuring a vibrant 3-inch OLED touchscreen, premium noise-canceling headphones, and 30+ hour battery life for music playback.
Available in 16GB and 32GB for $299.95 and $399.95, respectively.
Creative Zen X-Fi2: Starting at $129.99 (Creative.com)
Creative’s latest entry to the PMP market is the Zen X-Fi2, which features a 3-inch touchscreen, low starting price, and thoughtful extras like built-in support for synching RSS feeds from your computer to be read on the device.
Available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB for $129.99, $179.99, and $229.99, respectively.
Cowon S9: Starting at $169.99 (CowonAmerica.com)
South Korea’s Cowon may not be as widely well known here in the U.S. as some of its competitors but the company’s line of portable media players are traditionally pretty stylish. The S9, for example, sports a 3.3-inch capacitive AMOLED touchscreen, handsome interface, thin form factor, and built-in Bluetooth.
Available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB for $169.99, $204.99, and $259.99, respectively. There’s also a 16GB version for $199.99, which features a chrome/black finish instead of the titanium/black finish found on the other S9 players.
iRiver P7: Starting at $179.99 (iRiver)
The iRiver P7 strays from traditional PMP design somewhat to offer a “Magazine Look UI” contained inside a lightweight aluminum enclosure. The device features a 4.3-inch touchscreen and built-in text reader to complement the other media playback functions.
Available in 8GB and 16GB for $179.99 and $209.99, respectively.