The Apple iPod range has all-but decimated the wider MP3 player market,
but there are still reasons why you might want to shun Apple and its
admittedly-pretty-good Classic and touch devices. They won’t play
lossless files other than Apple’s own ALAC format, for one, and you can
often save a bit of cash by going for a Sony, Cowon or iRiver player.
there’s the iTunes question. With an Apple device, you’re pretty much
tethered to Apple’s music software, where most other MP3 players let you
drag and drop files onto their internal memory. Some also have microSD
slots, making it cheap and easy to expand the internal memory well
beyond its previous limit.
If you’re a sound quality nut, there
are also much better sound engines out there than Apple’s. Its players
let you choose from a handful of EQ options as standard, but that
doesn’t compare to the subtle and powerful skills of the Cowon BBE
engine. Then again, the Cowon J3 won’t let you play Angry Birds.