December 11, 2010

MP3 Player Questions From Someone Who Doesn't Know Anything About It

Do you want to help me choose an MP3 player for Rob for Christmas? Normally I make my dad help me with all such decisions, but he's an Apple man through and through and iPods are more than I want to spend. Normally we aim for $40 per child, but Rob is getting very difficult to buy for as he gets older, and the other kids won't have any idea what an MP3 player costs, so we're willing to go higher. But not, like, $100...I hope. I guess what I have in mind is...$50-75?

So my first question is: Does a decent MP3 player exist in that price range? And by "decent" I mean "won't break before a 12-year-old breaks or loses it"?

And my second question is: If so, can it use iTunes MP3s? Because that's where I have my MP3s, but iTunes is Apple, so...does that work if the MP3 player is not Apple?

And my third question is: Will it let the user find and select an individual song to play? Because that feature would not be something I'D care about, but it's important to Rob.

KTHANX. Because like everyone else I have my own set of strengths, but "choosing electronic equipment" is not even in the same universe as those strengths.

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New gift ideas post at Milk and Cookies: Gift ideas for an elderly person you don't know very well.

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Review blog stuff:

Smarty Ants and Phonics Reading Pup, through December 17th, so this is the last reminder. The giveaway is for your own Phonics Reading Pup ($30) plus a year's subscription to the Smarty Pants reading game ($50) plus a Visa gift card ($100), and the entry comment is an easy one: saying which of the two Pups you like better.

37 comments:

Suzanne said...

Well you CAN get an iPod for $40 but it is an iPod shuffle, which doesn't have a screen to find and choose an individual song. Also, it's about the size of a postage stamp and I don't think *I* could avoid losing it.

Other than that, I know nothing, but Amazon reviews tend to be very helpful when making such decisions.

Omaha Mama said...

I think you'll be fine...we have an old one I bought my husband when they were first 'the thing to buy'. I knew nothing, just bought one. You hook it up the the computer with a cord and drag songs into its folder. Even your iTunes is a folder in your My Computer folder. Not hard. I think this one was an RCA. Cheap. My daughter uses it now for all of her music and hubs moved on to an iPod. It works fine. Just buy one that looks cool...which of course is what matters most! ;0)

Amanda said...

I'd buy him an iPod shuffle - $50 from Apple. You don't need a screen - the new ones talk to you. http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/

Clarabella said...

I am no help, as I am also an apple person, all the way. BUT if you want to get him an iPod, I would suggest looking at the refurbished ones on Apple, or Ebay is your friend. Anyhow, good luck!

Anonymous said...

I have a Sansa (Sandisk one I'm pretty sure) and just got a cute little iHome speaker that works great(usually $20 but picked it up for $12 on Amazon). I found that getting a speaker for non-iPod MP3 players can be tricky since everything is geared for the iPod market! My little mp3 player does everything I want it to do, including picking an individual song to listen to and set up playlists (and I am not too techno-savvy!).

My daughter just got an iPod and I was able to put music from my Windows Media Player into iTunes for her, but not sure if things work in reverse (i.e. iTunes to another mp3 player) so I will be watching the comments closely! (-:

eatmewithcake said...

I have the Sandisk Sansa Fuze (http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Sansa-Video-Player-Black/dp/B0015L0T68) and I love it. It's about the size of a credit card.

Your iTunes MP3s are all located ina folder somewhere on your computer. You can just drag-and-drop them from that folder into the Sansa folder when the MP3 player is connected to the computer. It's not as simple as syncing iTunes with an iPod, but once you've done it a couple of times, it's actually fairly simple.

To answer your last question, yes, you can select individual songs to play.

Marie Green said...

We (and by "we" I of course mean "Santa") just bought the girls a new "iPod". We got them a Philips one, from Walmart, that was $29 on Black Friday. I'm not sure what it is normally. Maybe $40? Anyway, it has a screen and looks VERY MUCH like an iPod Nano and they love it. (We have an early Christmas party every year over Thanksgiving where Santa comes and brings a gift, so they already got this.) David said it was easy to load and the girls can easily find which song they want. David doesn't know if you can use iTunes without an actual iPod. He doesn't think so.

Anyway, we didn't want to spend much more than $40 on an "iPod" because the girls are prone to dropping, banging, and losing things like this. At least at the $29 price point, none of us will be wailing if it breaks in a year or two.

Type (little) a said...

Itunes music is not in mp3 format, it's in .aac, which is a proprietary apple format. To use another, you'd have to burn a cd through itunes, then re-rip them as mp3.

Just get the kid an ipod shuffle.

Marie Green said...

Here's the one we bought. Well, actually we bought 2.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Philips-ViBe-4GB-MP3-Video-Player-Black/15026673

MamaK said...

I bought hubs a Sansa somthing, about $40-50, not as small as a nano, but still small. Just walked into a store and bought it, not really knowing anything. It works fine. I'm pretty sure we used Itunes with it, but that was before the computer crashed and I haven't reinstalled itunes yet (lazy with tech stuff), so no guaruntee from me.

Whatever you buy, get a CASE to go with it. I bought a swiss army knife brand (?) for about $12, and it has a way to clip it onto/in a backpack as well as a wrist strap. 2 pockets inside, so I can carry the mp3 and the cords, or notes or cash or whatever. Awesome.

Later, hubs got me a Sony walkman mp3 player (?!) which also has the capability for video. Not sure the price or anything. BUT it does seem like the accessories and, ah, replacement USB cords for the Sansa ones are way cheaper than any other. So there's a thought too.

Rebecca is fabulous said...

I've had a Phillips one for 2 years...it charges when plugged to the computer, and you put music on via drag and drop, so itunes works... think i paid 40, and phillips has some cute designs....

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00361FJS8/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0024FAC16&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1NAQ2SJTCW2RF6D03RKB

the sony walkman was what i almost got, and would probably buy if I needed a new one.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sony-Walkman-8G-16GB-MP3-Video-Player-and-Ematic-Accessory-Kit-bundle/13446925

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to disagree with advice to get him an ipod shuffle. I'm like Rob, it's important to me to songs to match my mood and I would find the shuffle frustrating. Not sure about itunes though, maybe you can talk to someone at Best Buy?

Magic27 said...

I'm going to be checking these comments all the time because, while I also have many strengths, "gadget know-how" most definitely isn't one of them. And I'm a) way too embarrassed to ask my 4th Comp Sci students (I teach them English, by the way, nothing Comp Sci-y) this kind of question (they think I'm a techno-idiot at the best of times) and b) I don't have any readers on my blog as I rarely write there since my ex found it and started reading it - given most of my recent posts have been ranting about him or his mother I feel like I've been gagged!
So thank you, dear Swistle, for being so perfect in your subject matter (and other things, too!)!

Anonymous said...

We had a non-Apple MP3 player and it was annoying as hell. Sorry I can't remember what kind it was! We ended up with a shuffle and it was so much more intuitive and easy to deal with. Apple just really wins those contests easily. I agree with other people who say just go for the new Shuffle.

Caelia said...

(first time commenter)

I have owned several Sandisk Sansas. I currently have the 8 GB version of this one (http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Sansa-Player-Expansion-Black/dp/B000ETTFRG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292085721&sr=8-1). It's like others have said, it's easy to use, works decently with iTunes, and my mother figured out how to use it without any help from me. I would recommend a screen scratch guard and a silicone case/cover to prevent most damamge. Despite heavy use it continues to work beautifully. This particular version works very much like an iPod (and in my opinion looks better); the blue circle spins for easy scrolling and you can even make playlists.

A note about use with iTunes: if that's where you buy your music, you might as well get an Apple product (due to the type of file it uses). However, if that is just where you organize your music (e.g. you buy music on cds) and/or download podcasts, you don't have to use an Apple product.

My only vote against an iPod shuffle is that I would lose it after the first time I used it. The Sansas tend to be the size of a flip style cell phone (about), so it's harder for me to "misplace" it.

Annsy said...

I got an ipod nano in March (happy birthday to me) on eBay for $75. It was brand new (or maybe refurbished), but it came with everything you'd get in a store. Good luck.

Angie said...

An ipod shuffle is only $50. Not at nice as a nano, but it seems pretty good for a kid.

Gina said...

We've had a few non-ipod ones over the years - all have been passable,some better than others. But while ipods can plat mp3s, non-ipods can't play itunes music, so weigh the cost of getting new music against the cost of an ipod.

Slim said...

I've bought several Sansas and been happy with them. We have two Sansa Clips, which are about the size of a matchbox, and an Express, which is long and skinny. I think there's a replacement to the Clip, but I don't know what it's called.
CNet compared the Sansa Clip with the Shuffle and the Clip came out ahead in everything but Niftiness of Design, which is probably always going to the case with Apple products. But if you're going for value, I say Sansa.

Slim said...

OK, the new thing is the Clip+, and in the CNet comparison with the iPod Nano, the Clip+ won.

http://reviews.cnet.com/2722-6490_7-795.html

alice said...

Short answer - Sansa is great, refurbished nano would be my second choice, but I agree that a shuffle would be infuriating to a kid like Rob. Alternately, there's the 'buy your dad a new ipod and pass the old one down' trick, but that's dangerous precedent to set with multiple kids around.

I have the Sansa Fuze, and love it; synching it with iTunes on my mac was tricky, but doable. (I had to find a 3rd part script to make them 'talk' to each other). However, I think there are more options when you're a pc user for organizing music. Def. ask someone @ a store about this if you'll be helping Rob with that part of things, though.

As for iTunes, you can definitely use it with non-ipod devices, but *only* for songs that are in .mp3 format (you got them from somewhere other than the iTunes store). Anything purchased from the iTunes store is a lot harder to put on a non-ipod, as Type (little) a mentioned.

Doing my best said...

I just saw a deal on this one at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Sansa-Clip-Player-Black/dp/B002MAPT7U/ref=br_lf_m_1000621601_1_1_ttl?t=slicinc-20&tag=slicinc-20 It's a SanDisk 4GB for $30 at this moment (it may be one of those price changing items). It looks like you could pick the song you wanted.

Jessica said...

Everyone in my family has Sansa Clip+'s and love them. i think we got either the 2gb or 4 gb, since it has an expansion slot. My 60+ yo mother was able to figure it out without any help from me.

Lippy said...

We got both of our kids the sandisk sansa, and loved it. (as mentioned by many) So much that I bought one for my husband for running. You can even listen to fm radio. It is cheap and the 4 and 7 year olds haven't busted it yet. You do have to change files on itunes to an mp3 format, but you don't have to put it on cd first, there is a drop down menu thing. We bought two at target and one on amazon to get pink.

(I was going to include the link for target, but it would take up the whole internet) email me if you would like it, or search target.

Becky said...

I've had 2 Sansa sandisk MP3 players (I bought the 2nd one just because I wanted a smaller one)...I've had absolutely no problems.

They work great, are easy to use and transfer music, and won't break the bank. The one I use the most is tiny and charges by hooking up to the computer -- but have a number of versions available. I can select the song, create a playlist, sort by album or artist, etc, or listen to the radio. I'm not sure iTunes work (or at least I had problems) - but I just download mine from Amazon.

Monique said...

My kids have a habit of breaking/losing/crushing things, so when the oldest wanted an Ipod or something similar, I put down the law. She got a cheap one ($15 on Black Friday, no screen) the first time and if she took care of it for one year she could get a better one. It didn't last a year, but not because of her. She kept up with it and took care of it, it was just cheap. So last year she got the Phillips that others have posted about and she just loved it. In fact, she loved it to death. She used it so much the buttons quit working. I think operator error instead of a problem with the unit. Now she has all her music on her phone and it all works much better. Can't help you on the computer/music thing. I'm old school and just listen to CDs or the radio.

squandra said...

I have to recommend the iPod Shuffle, too. I have a Nano, myself ($80 on eBay) but I think a Shuffle would be perfect for a kiddo.

The AAC/MP3 point is a good one.

Alex said...

I just want to echo several commenters that if you buy music from itunes it is very difficult, though not impossible, to get onto a non-apple MP3 player.

M.Amanda said...

I'm also not a tech gadget type of person. In January I delved into the MP3 world with a Sansa Fuze. It has 8GB and was refurbished for less than $70. It works just fine, especially for someone who isn't worried about having the next "coolest thing." I liked it well enough to get one for my husband for Father's Day.

jennamom said...

Absolutely, if you're used to using and buying music from iTunes, get an iPod Shuffle (under $50.) I bought my now-six year old a Shuffle for his fifth birthday (so he'd stop pestering me for my Classic.) A year and a half later, he still has it and listens to it almost every day. (And this is a kid who regularly tears up and loses stuff.) They've made some improvements since the one I bought him, and you can do playlists and stuff now and it talks to you.

1hottiredmama said...

Invest in the Apple product. Seriously. You will spend more money replacing MP3 players than you will on your initial iPod purchase. They just don't hold up as well and working with iTunes is a bear on non-Apple stuff.

Right now you can buy an iPod Shuffle at Target.com for $46. Spend $50 and get free shipping. I'm sure YOU can find something else to throw in your cart. :o)

Sarah said...

My mom got me an ipod nano last year that i think was around fifty bucks on amazon. It was a refurbished one, maybe? But it works fine. It is slightly annoying to use, though, imo. You can select individual songs pretty easily, though.

Southern jezeBelle said...

you can get in ipod shuffle around 50 but it doesn't have the feature to choose the exact song so fail!

refurbs from apple come with new battery, headphones, and warranty but i think they're pushing 100.

other mp3s can use songs bought from itunes but you may have to save them all to windows media player.

have you considered a used ipod on ebay or craigslist? you can get great deals on very gently used ones.

let us know what you choose.

Gwen said...

I know I am late to this party, but per cnet (see link below) the new SanDisk Sansa *does* support the apple format (aac) so you shouldn't have trouble using itunes music on it. Apparently it runs $70-$80.

http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-players/sandisk-sansa-fuze-mp3/4505-6490_7-34165622.html

Misty said...

My husband IS the person to ask about technological doo hickeys and we got one of these for about $40 from TigerDirect. I am replying so late that I figure you already have this under control, but if you don't email me and I will bug the Husband to tell me what we got.

Amen.

Laura said...

Re: AAC and MP3 format. If you want to avoid dealing with AAC and non-Apple products you can change the import preference to MP3 so any new CDs you burn will be able to play on anything.
Converting what you already have can be a pain though (i.e., burning them onto CD and then re-importing them as MP3s). Alas. Hopefully you can find something that plays AAC and MP3!

If you can find a super cheap Nano I recommend it (especially an older version). I love mine to pieces. I couldn't handle a shuffle because I like to make playlists and choose individual songs.

Anonymous said...

ipod nano

or a shuffle if you want to spend less.

my son is 12 and had not lost/damaged his ipod touch yet (has had it 2 yrs).