1st Place: iPod touch 64GB
To call the iPod touch a music player is an understatement of massive proportions. Even calling it a media player doesn't cut it. Rather, in the iPod touch Apple created a platform for both its own and third party developers to create a huge array of applications. And of course, it's well established by now that Apple's touchscreen interface is completely unrivalled.
Other players sound better, others may be more suited for watching video on and others are cheaper, but none are as outright cool as the iPod touch. Better yet, £299 for 64GB of flash storage isn't even overly expensive; uncommon for an Apple product. The speed boost provided by the newer hardware in this model is a huge bonus, as it makes using the touch a genuinely more pleasant experience than before. If you have one stocking filler on your Christmas list, this should be it.
2nd Place: Samsung YP-R1
To paraphrase our review, the Samsung YP-R1 is, put simply, the best touchscreen media player available right now not adorned with an Apple logo. The interface isn't quite as slick, and it doesn't really offer much functionality over a set of hardware controls but face it: touchscreens are cool.
Besides, such fanciful input methods aside the YP-R1 outclasses the competition by some way. Despite, at £100-odd, costing about as much as a similar capacity iPod nano, the YP-R1 has a much better feature set. It's better for watching videos, its audio quality is streets ahead and its format support is much more comprehensive. If you care more about style than substance then by all means ignore the YP-R1, but don't blame us if you wind up disappointed.
3rd Place: Sony Walkman NWZ-E443
As the company responsible for the current ambivalence we all have to music as a portable commodity, it should be expected that Sony knows how to make a decent music player. The Walkman E443 proves that suspicion true. Despite being the entry level model, it still packs more punch than more expensive rivals - we're looking at you iPod nano.
The E443 is cheap without feeling it, has sound quality other players in its class can only dream of, has a simple, intuitive, button-driven menu system that in some respects bests the fancier, touchy feely interfaces of other players and with features such as drag and drop music transfer can prove less frustrating to live with. What more could you want?