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World's best MP3 player | Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

This is my Samsung YP-2J. It has:

  • One gigabyte (1,073,741,824 bytes) of flash memory.
  • An FM Tuner.
  • A voice recorder.
  • The ability to play both mp3 and ogg files.
  • No interface or software to speak of - I plug it in, it's detected as a USB drive, and I drag and drop music to it like any other folder.
  • Linux support.
  • A bare-bones, no-frills interface.
  • Buttons you click, not a flimsy touch-screen.
  • A battery that lasts for days.
  • A tiny tiny footprint.

I've carried it with me across countless borders, states and provinces. It's been with me on my runs, hundreds of visits to the gym, cycling for hours, and lying in bed. I bought it refurbished at Tiger Direct for $19.95 plus shipping and handling several years ago.

It is, without a doubt, the best MP3 player in the world.

However, after one too many falls, drops, knocks, or accidental immersions into liquids of varying degrees of alcohol content, it is seemingly on its last legs. The "hold" switch which keeps you from accidentally pressing a button has broken off, the headphone jack is loose and so once in a while the left earpiece will fade in and out, and during especially severe activity like running away from chasing people down, it'll shut itself off. I really don't want to replace this player because it's ideal for me, but I think it's time I move on. Time will heal. Until then, though, I need to find a new player that matches my lifestyle - spastic and disheveled. I basically copy a bunch of songs to my player, set it to random, and go. No playlists, no albums, no sorting. Live fast.

My question is - does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should get to replace it? Here are my needs:

  • Must be small. Like really, really small.
  • Must have outstanding clarity and sound quality.
  • Must have an FM tuner. At the gym you can listen to the televisions by tuning in to different frequencies. Also, I do in fact still listen to standard radio - in French. Montreal has the worst anglophone radio stations in the known galaxy.
  • Must have a battery that lasts at least 10 hours, and that's a bare minimum. 14+ hours is better.
  • Must have controls that are easy to operate without seeing them - like, in a pocket. That rules out touchscreens.
  • Must have a "lock" button so as to not accidentally press any of the aforementioned controls.
  • Must have a voice recorder. Hey, I come up with great ideas like all the time!
  • Must be a universal mass storage (UMS) device, so it shows up as a removable disk just like an everyday USB flash drive.
  • Should hold at least 2 gigs of data. I've made due with 1 gig for so long, 2 gigs will feel huge. That's 2147483648 bytes!
  • Should be able to play OGG files, ideally.
  • Should have a screen, though that's not a deal-breaker. Ideally, should not have a screen that plays videos.
  • Should not have a USB cable, but an integrated USB plug.
  • Must not be an Apple product. Must not look like a knock-off of an Apple product. Must not look like it could've been designed by someone who, at some point in their career, considered working for Apple.

So, any suggestions? I've been looking at products from iRiver, Sony and Sandisk (as well as more from Samsung), but none that really have the same appeal as my old faithful player. Is anyone else out there using an mp3 player that they can recommend, based on the above?

Oh, and the first person to tell me to get an iPod will get a drop-kick right in the eyes.