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MP3 Players Performance

Compared to any number of electronic devices, low-cost MP3 players are fairly basic. Consumers seem to prefer it that way -- who wants to fiddle with navigation options while running a lawnmower or pumping an elliptical? MP3 players reviews are likewise short and to the point.

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Most offer up a few words about sound quality, the interface, and features such as memory and file support. For the models on our list, reviewers are satisfied with the total package: MP3 player sound, functionality, and price. Note, though, that we came across a few reports of excessive moisture (i.e., sweat) interfering with the longevity of these models, so do take care.

MP3 Players Sound.

You'd think that high-quality sound would be the top requirement for plugged-in music lovers. But it's pretty clear from MP3 players reviews that thrifty shoppers have reasonable expectations about MP3 player sound from a budget device. Sound quality does matter, of course, but consumers who buy these devices are OK with audio that falls short of surround-sound standards. They often go out of their way in MP3 players reviews to praise models that deliver above-average MP3 player sound and unhesitatingly dismiss models that deliver subpar audio quality.

MP3 players reviews reveal that the Sony W Series Walkman (starting at $50) and its upmarket relative, the E Series Walkman (starting at $75 for 8GB), stand out for their excellent sound quality. An expert at Tech Hive gives the 2GB W Series Walkman, with its unusual and practical headphone design, an Editor's Choice nod largely because the first-rate audio belies its budget price. In particular, the reviewer praises the solid bass performance, which is often a weakness in low-end MP3 players. A CNET reviewer also commends the deep bass and absence of distortion. The comparatively pricey and traditionally shaped E Series Walkman earns heaps of kudos from users who posted comments at Walmart and Amazon, again for the impressive MP3 player sound, including deep, clear bass.

Users and experts alike give a thumbs-up to the sound emanating from the multi-function SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip (starting at $39). An expert MP3 players review at CNET raves about the audio quality in light of the very modest price. Although the Sansa Clip Zip can't compete with high-end players, the expert continues, its MP3 player sound is at least level with the performance of an Android smartphone. However, Tech Hive cautions that the included earbuds are "dismal," an assessment shared by some users who posted MP3 players reviews at Best Buy.

The Philips GoGear Vibe (starting at $49) scores with consumers, whose MP3 players reviews at Amazon commend the sound quality -- even when plugged into external speakers -- especially given the price. Experts at CNET likewise approve, and say but for the earbuds, the MP3 player sound rivals what you'd hear with an Apple device that costs at least five times as much. (Tip: Splurge on a good pair of headphones.)

Experts and consumers are of different minds about the iPod shuffle (starting at $45). An expert at Tech Hive isn't terribly impressed with the audio quality and lays much of the blame on the bundled earbuds. And yet, several MP3 players reviews at Target assert that sound from this little device is surprisingly loud and clear. And in comments posted at Walmart, purchasers write that they groove to the MP3 player's sound; one asserts only a live concert could sound better.

Review continues below

The Mach Speed Eclipse 180 (starting at $16) fails to win over users, whose MP3 players reviews at sites such as Newegg and Staples ding a variety of operational factors (e.g., controls and set up) and direct a few disses at the audio quality. We found similar complaints about the RCA M6104 (starting at $30), as well as grumbles about the build quality, in MP3 players reviews at sites such as Amazon. And, for a player that's been around for a while and carries a super-cheap price tag, the Coby MP550 (starting at $17) produces decent enough audio, according to comments posted at Walmart but disappoints users with its short battery life.

by Michael Sweet (Google+ Profile)

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