Part 3: Media player for a girlfriend
It's easy to beat your brains out trying to choose a present for your girlfriend's birthday, St. Valentine's, you name it. It's even harder to choose a present that she will actually like—you will have to study her preferences. The modern market offers a great number of products, and you often don't know where to look first. And girls themselves sometimes just don't know what they want. So, could it be a media player? Today we'll speak of players that a girl may like.
What does a girl need in the first place? Right, the player must be attractive. It should also be small or at least slim. A girl will hardly want to carry a huge multimedia device in her purse, even if it allows to surf the Web, watch movies, or record videos. In most cases girls need lightweight and easy-to-use media players, sometimes with FM tuners, photo browsers and video players. Thus, we'll use these parameters to narrow the selection.
Our express review will include products from Creative, Samsung, Sony, iriver, Apple, and Nexx. Why those? Because these companies possess the biggest share of the portable media player market and offer quality and stylish products. We'll examine several solutions of each brand. Naturally, some companies offer more products that meet our today's requirements, others—fewer.
Almost all today's contenders come with built-in batteries charged over USB ports or AC outlets. Besides, all our contenders feature flash memory. HDD players may also look nice, but they may be too large and heavy for girls :)
As a rule, women are not very picky about audio quality, their devices should just play music :) Since the media player industry is well developed, there are little to no brand products with bad audio quality. And in this situation it may mostly depend on headphones, not on the player itself. Stock headphones traditionally offer lower (though acceptable) quality. But, unlike men, women often use bundled headphones, so buying additional is not always necessary.
In the review product descriptions end with tables of brief specifications. We have also tried to list all available colors of each product. The descriptions include key features, while details are provided in spec tables. If you don't know much about features of modern media players and related terms, you may want to read the first and the second parts of our Guide. Now let's proceed to the products.
The name of this company suggests an original style of its products. And it's true. We've chosen three popular products from this manufacturer: Zen, Zen Stone, and Zen Stone Plus.
Sized as a credit card, this player has a streamline shape. Half of the enclosure is made of mat plastic, while its front panel is made of glossy plastic. That is the enclosure will collect finger prints. However, this is not a critical problem. This product will certainly please any girl, and it will take little room in her purse. It supports MP3, WMA, WMA, and AAC formats. Quite sufficient. This player is equipped with a very good display for the nice menu as well as browsing photos and playing videos. What concerns video, you will have to convert it with a bundled utility into a certain format. This product is equipped with an FM tuner. Zen is equipped with a memory card slot to expand its capacity. Such cards have become quite affordable now. Unfortunately, Creative Zen comes only black, but it does not make it less stylish.
As the title implies, this player is a musical "stone", which attracts attention with its nice shape. This player does not have a display. It contains only six controls. Two of them adjust audio volume, another two buttons are used to navigate audio tracks, the Play button is in the center of the circle, plus a power slider on top. Unlike many other players without displays, this one has a button to switch between folders. That is, you can organize music into folders to facilitate navigation. You shouldn't underestimate this product. It's a very good present—convenient and so small that it will fit inside even the most miniature purses. Besides, this player with 1 GB of built-in memory costs less than $40. The first players came only with 1 GB of memory, but there have recently appeared a modification with 2 GB. Available colors: black, white, green, blue, red, pink.
The company recently launched Zen Stones with a small speaker to listen to music without headphones. It does not provide high audio quality, but it will do to let other people listen to a tune. This modification comes in slightly different colors.
Zen Stone Plus
It's a Zen Stone with a small monochrome display—blue letters on the black background. Unlike the previous model, this player is equipped with an FM tuner and a voice recorder. As in the previous case, there is a modification with a small built-in speaker.
It's a well-known multibrand that manufactures lots of various products. This company has been making players practically since their appearance in the market, its first attempts were not very successful. However, the company has raised its class of mobile players of late. Now it manufactures high quality and stylish products.
This player with sensor controls is only 7.9 mm thick, and it may also please a girl. It's a light-weight stylish product with backlit sensor buttons. Along with playing music/video files, displaying photos and text files, this product is also equipped with Bluetooth. So you can use cordless headphones and exchange files with other portable devices. You should also pay attention to menu design—there are three options: two strict stylish designs, and one funny design with toon dogs. It looks nice. The player is packaged in a modern-looking plastic box. The variety of colors is amazing: light-green, black, white, currant, red. All players, except the black ones, have a gray "belt" at the sides and a small gray stripe on the bottom. The black model has a black "belt".
Another stylish product from Samsung. It's a slim player with a metal back panel. It's a tad older than the T10, so it offers fewer functions—it can play music, show photos, and receive FM stations. The player can also display text files. This function won't do for ebooks, but it will work fine for small notes. This product cannot play video, because it comes with a relatively small display. Sensor controls. The enclosure and the menu are implemented in the same style: the display merges into the case, the display shows bright icons. You can see everything on the photo.
The new product comes in three colors—so you can choose one to your girlfriend's liking.
This new product is designed to attract attention. It looks very much like the K3. But it's noticeably thicker. Why? Because it's a slider with moving-out speakers. The company offers a similar model, K5, but we selected the new device, because it has more features, a better display, it's slimmer, and it comes in a variety of colors. When the speakers are hidden under the front part, the sound is channeled only to headphones. The speakers come into play as soon as you slide them out. Their audio quality is as good as one can get from speakers of this size. It will do to listen to music in a room. Besides, the player can be used as an alarm clock, you can select any song to wake you up. It supports Bluetooth just like the T10. Bluetooth functionality allows for wireless headphones and integration with cell phones.
Players from this famous company are becoming popular after a relatively long stagnation period. It's because now you don't have to convert music into a special format and use a special program. Besides, new products can boast of elegant design.
A-815, 817, 818
All three players differ only in memory capacity—from 2 GB to 8 GB. Designers did a great job here. The player most certainly looks great. But you can see it with your own eyes on the photo.
These players are equipped with a high quality color display and allow to play video and browse photos. Unfortunately, that's about all—these players cannot even receive FM stations. A distinctive feature of these players is high quality bundled headphones. Unfortunately, this feature comes at a price—representatives of this series are noticeably more expensive than similar models from other manufacturers.
These players also differ only in memory capacity: the former is equipped with 1 GB of memory, the latter has two. This device is for those users who just need to listen to music. It's in the candybar style, easy to use. You don't need a cable to plug the device to a computer—just remove the cap, which hides a USB plug. It's a modern and stylish model, which will look at home among other accessories in a purse.
Players from this company do not need any introductions—this brand is famous for its high quality and design. Popularity of its products has been waning of late (versus more powerful competitors), but the company can still offer nice players for the fair sex.
This is the second contender in our shootout without a display, and it's also the most functional of all. Along with the navigation functions, this player is equipped with an FM tuner and SRS. Not all users like this feature, so it's not really an advantage, but the fact itself of additional functions in a player without a display is good news. This device can play songs consecutively or shuffle them, of course. Controls are also organized in a non-standard way: you have to press corresponding parts of the enclosure to adjust volume and navigate through songs. Peculiarities of this product include its dimensions—it's tiny, trust me :) You may draw the player on paper using its dimensions from the table.
This is also a miniature model. But unlike the S7, it's equipped with a display that occupies the main part of the front panel. The player has the same controls as the previous model. Its display makes navigation much more convenient: it shows track names, it can also display FM info, unlike the S7.
Unfortunately, battery time of this player is rather short: there is nothing surprising about it, considering its tiny size.
We included this player into the review not because because, unlike others, it works from a single AAA battery. Since many people still use such products and don't want to throw out rechargeable batteries, they might want to make some upgrades. Such players are disappearing from the market, but this is a new model nevertheless. Besides, in the form of a triangular prism it looks very attractive. This design allowd to hide that it's powered by interchangeable batteries.
This brand needs no introductions. The latest products from this company made a racket all over the world and everyone knows about iPod. Many people joke that Apple is a new religion: products from this company have a great many fans.
We have all heard about this device. A slim enclosure, a wheel to adjust audio volume and navigate songs—you just brush the sensor circle with your finger, and the player responds in no time. A significant disadvantage of these products is impossibility to copy music into memory as into a regular flash card—you should upload music using a proprietary program, iTunes. Nano players come in various modifications, two of them are popular now: Nano G2 and G3. Nano G2 differs from G3 in shape and features: Nano G3 supports video. The photo shows the latest modification of Nano. You can read about the second generation here.
These players are often bought because Apple is fashionable. Out of doubt, designers of this company managed to create a great style, nothing to add, nothing to remove. Many young men and women use these unisex players. Besides, they come in different colors.
This player is the third and probably the last product without a display. It's designed in the form of a clip, so you can wear it on your clothes and control playback without groping in your pockets. It's a miniature attractive player. It suffers from the common problem of all iPods—you have to use special software to upload music to a player. This model lacks additional features, as it has no display. But it can shuffle tracks or play them in the order you uploaded files.
It's also a strong player on the Russian market of mobile players. One of its latest products is a very attractive model.
It's a very slim player, the thinnest model available (it used to be the thinnest player ever, but its record has been broken by just 0.1 mm :)). The other dimensions are also small, so the player looks modern and stylish. Unfortunately, it comes only in glossy black color. Along with high quality audio playback, the player can receive FM stations, browse photos, play video, and show text files. These are not specialized functions, but it won't hurt to have them. This player produces a better impression than previous products from this company. Its sensor controls are implemented well, but you'll have to get used to them, of course.
Well, we can see that the fair sex has a wide choice of options for a present. We couldn't review all of them, of course, but we touched upon the main products. I hope this article will help you choose a media player for your girlfriend.
Daniil Kudriavtsev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
April 2, 2008
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