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Feature photo by serendipity, Photo by barron

When you’re in the mood for orange juice, Apple just won’t do.

I admit it without shame – I’m a Steve Jobs fangirl. For years now I haven’t owned a laptop or music player that didn’t come from the big, shiny white Apple store.

I’m also aware that Apple is just one brand, has limitations, and doesn’t suit everyone. While the iPod in all its models and candy colors tends to dominate the portable media device world, there are tons of other equally kick-ass devices to choose from, depending on what you’re looking for.

iPod Touch Alternatives

Zune HD

Hi there, Microsoft; long time no see. The Zune HD has a built-in HD radio receiver, HD-compatible video, a touch OLED screen and the 64 version can hold up to 20 hours of HD vids, 96 hours of standard vids, 16,000 songs or 25,000 pics.


Designed by Creative Labs, this gadget features an LCD touchscreen and X-Fi technology for movies and FM radio. There’s also a slot for a microSD card if you’ve got more music, movies and pictures than the device can handle alone.


The COWON J3 also comes with an SD slot if you need space for more than the 8,000 songs, 40,000 photos or 40 hours of vid the device holds. The AMOLED display has a 480×272 pixel resolution, and the device supports MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, WAV and APE audio formats.

iPod Classic Alternatives

ibiza Rhapsody H1A030S Wi-Fi/MP3 Player

Haier’s ibiza Rhapsody wireless mp3 player has a 2.5-inch color LCD, 15 hours of battery life, a “hot button” similar to the Classic’s click wheel, and FM and Internet radio.

Archos 605 Wi-Fi Portable Media Player

Claiming to “bridge the gap between the PC and the TV,” this device is for streaming either from your PC or the Internet to television or PMP, and also allows you to record TV shows.

Creative ZEN Vision:M MP3 and Video Player

The ZEN Vision:M can hold tens of thousands of photos, up to 120 hours of video, or 15,000 songs, and has a 2.5-inch hi-def LCD screen with 320×240 resolution. This device supports AVI, DivX 4 and 53, XviD4, MPEG-1, 2 and SP, WMV9 and Motion-JPEG video formats and includes an FM radio and recorder.

iPod nano Alternatives

SanDisk Sansa Clip MP3 Player

This little guy stores up to 1,000 songs, 2,400 photos or holds 12 hours of vid, and includes a memory card slot. It also comes with a digital FM tuner with 40 preset stations and 15 hour battery life.

Haier America Trainer

A great choice if your mp3 player is essential to a good workout, this player includes calorie tracking, a pedometer and heart-rate monitor and is water resistant. It also features a 1-inch OLED display.

Sansa Fuze MP3 Player

This player has a 2.4 inch QVGA LCD screen and supports slotRadio cards. The battery lasts around a day for audio playback and up to 5 hours for video, and supports MP3, WMA, secure WMA, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC/M4A (iTunes DRM-free music files), and WAV, as well as Audible and audiobook formats.

iPod Shuffle Alternatives

Sony Digital Music Player

With room for about 500 songs, an interesting design that “floats” the mp3 player on the back of your neck, and 11 hours of audio playback on one charge, this might be the ideal choice for marathon runners. This Sony mp3 supports mp3, AAC, WMA (DRM) and WMT audio files.

Samsung YP-S2-ZB Flash MP3 Player

Also known as the “Pebble,” this player doubles as a, dare I say it, cute accessory. It supports MP3, WMA and OGG playback with 13 hour battery life and has controls, including play/pause, volume and playback options on the back.

Creative Zen Stone Plus MP3 Player

Weighing less than an ounce, this player can hold up to 500 MP3, WMA and Audible tracks with 9.5 hours of life. Other features include a built-in FM radio with 32 station presents, a stopwatch and timer for workouts, and a voice recorder.

Community Connection

Found the mp3 player for you? Learn how to protect it and possibly save it in an emergency with these gadget safety recommendations.

About The Author

Michelle Schusterman

Michelle is a musician, writer, and teacher just trying to see the world while doing what she loves for a living. She's taught ESL in Salvador, Brazil and kindergarten in Suwon, Korea, and now she's a full-time freelance writer living in Seattle (just to keep the city alliteration going). She'll try pretty much any food once and believes coffee is its own food group.

  • Ahimsa

    I’ve had the creative zen M for years, in multiple countries, and it’s almost the perfect player for me. With 30 gigs for videos, photos, and music, plus a radio I will have this bad boy until it dies. And then I will cry.

  • Michelle Schusterman

    Good to know it works so well – thanks, Ahimsa!

  • Nick Bowles

    I thought it was time for a change to my iPod Touch, for better sound quality. I bought a Cowon J3, connected it to my Mac and an hour later it was dead. Formatted Fat32 it will only take a max of 4GB files and cannot handle all the tiny .files that Apples place on remote drives. Gone back to my iPod now.

  • Lasse Gjertsen

    Wow! No mention of actual storage space. FAIL!

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