MP3 Players That Rock

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Sony Walkman W Series
Sony Walkman W Series

Sony Walkman W Series

Some MP3 players, such as the iPod shuffle or Sansa Clip, let you clip the device to your shirt or belt while working out, but imagine if you didn’t have anything to hold or attach at all.

Sony’s new Walkman W Series of MP3 players ($69.99; sonystyle.com) was designed as a pair of behind-the-neck earbuds, albeit with the MP3 playback technology built right in — so there’s no separate device that they attach to that you’d need to keep in your pocket. These 2GB players (available in pink, black or silver) can store about 500 tunes and include a handy feature called “Zappin” that lets you browse through tracks by listening to the chorus for each song. As an added bonus, if you’re in a rush and the battery needs recharging, a USB connection gives enough of a charge in just 3 minutes to keep the device running for an hour and a half following.

Microsoft Zune
Microsoft Zune

Microsoft Zune

While we still need to wait until the fall to see how well the much-hyped ZuneHD models perform, Microsoft’s current family of Zune products (www.zune.net) – including the 8GB Flash memory model ($139.99) and 120GB hard drive version ($249.99) – let you wirelessly share music with other Zune owners in the same room (allowing up to three free plays per song). You can further wirelessly sync your Wi-Fi-enabled Zune with your PC when you walk into your home’s wireless network, and units additionally feature an FM radio, game playing capability, long battery life and support for multiple codecs (including WMA and WMV files). Unlike iTunes, which sells songs one by one or album by album (a la carte, if you will), a Zune Pass subscription lets you fill up your Zune, buffet-style, for the monthly cost of one CD ($14.99) too.

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