back to article 2008's top three MP3 players

Apple's iPod line remains the best-selling series of music players, and while the revamped, thinned down Touch appeals - thanks to its sheer good looks and versatility - it was a couple of other players the scored the best marks this year. Sony Walkman S-series Sony NWZ-639F 16GB Walkman MP3 player The 8GB and 16GB Walkman …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see the Sony at the top of the list.

    I have the NWZ-A729, 16GB, which is essentially the same, bigger screen and no FM radio. Same fantastic sound quality, same great better life, same easy to use UI.

    After hearing this, I would touch an Apple player again. Sorry, they sound complete rubbish by comparison.

  2. Sam York

    Apple are never the best choice for anything other than styling

    The quality of their hardware is shocking for the prices they charge.

    PS - surely a discreet music player? All of them are discrete!

  3. sproot
    Thumb Down


    And also the same rootkit for your PC too, presumably?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone has their own opinion, i dont agree with the above, so here is mine

    Having owned both the sony and the touch, i can say with no doubt that unless you just don't want to give Mr Jobs any more money to invest in back dated share options, the iPod Touch is the ONLY mp3 player anyone should be considering. The looks, the interface and the general user experience are so far ahead of anything else on the market, its going to take years for anyone else to even draw level.

    If you can live with the price, ignore the above article and just get the best!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    they all looks so f---- bland.

  6. netean
    Thumb Down

    ipod isn't a great mp3 player

    BEing an iPod touch owner, I think the Mp3/music playing ability is the weakest feature of the touch. No playlist editing, no music management whatsoever (don't get me started on the lameness of the on-the-go playlist) - no ability to add or configure the equaliser, no podcast shownotes, it doesn't even let you display the full title of a track if it's longer than the screen width.

    Don't get me wrong, its' a lovely lovely device for many things and I use it constantly, but I'm always disappointed by the lack of music related features.

  7. Jason McLaughlin


    Why the Touch at Number 3 when both the Nano 4G and Sansa Clip beat it in their review scores?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Don't you mean "discreet", as in "discretion; not obvious", rather than "stand-alone"?

    A Sony device which isn't encumbered by a Memory Stick (TM) slot may be worth getting.

  9. Phill
    Black Helicopters

    is 85>90?

    3 Phones given the "Reg Rating" of 90%, 1 of 88% and yet the Apple iPod Touch still makes it in the top 3 witha rating of only 85%? Clearly either the person making the list, or rating the mp3 players is an idiot!

    Black helicopters because I'm wondering who got paid to push the ipod touch!

  10. Michael Habel
    Jobs Halo

    Hummm wich One?!?!

    1) Ummmm.... No!

    2) You can keep it!


    St. Steve for the WIN!!

    After all the iPod is the las word on Mp3!!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Walkman S639

    Truly a marvel and good value too. Amazon UK has the 16GB for £88 - a bloody bargain!

  12. Lottie


    1) I'm so tempted by the Sony and now more so

    2) how long before the cavalry arrive to dispute the list and demand the ipod be placed at #1?

  13. Adrian Jackson

    Nice to see the Apple at the bottom of the list.

    Not entirely convinced I'd have had it there at all, to be honest. Because for all its neat features, it's just not that great at playing MP3s, and I have this irrational preference for devices that are good at their core functionality. Substance over style sort of thing. I'm currently a very happy owner of a Sansa Fuze with a nice (cheap) hefty memory card to flesh out the storage capacity. Meets all my music-playing needs, and with the addition of a decent set of headphones does it at very high quality - and at a quarter of the price of the equivalently-sized Apple product...

  14. FreeTard

    Bought the itouch

    As I didn't want the Jesus phone -- tied to O2 and all that rubbish.

    My next player will be a walkman, just because it hooks into itunes -- very important to me as I buy most of my music on a whim -- the wife will say, oh get me such and such, I've no patience so itunes works well for me. The DRM pisses me off, but you can always burn to a CD.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Sony? Never!

    I'd rather stick hot pokers in my eyes than buy anything from those c*nts at Sony.

    I like really the Sansa Fuze, but it's a shame that they don't come in higher capacities. Even with add-on cards available, it's still nice to have a decent amount of onboard storage.

  16. Sam York

    That's exactly what I mean, Rowan Huggard

    Typical Apple fanboy response: 'The looks, the interface and the general user experience are so far ahead of anything else on the market, its going to take years for anyone else to even draw level.'

    So these features are of more importance to you than sound quality, amount of different file formats played, whether the headphones that come with it are worth 99p, etc etc...

    If I was buying an mp3 player I would prioritise mp3 playing functions over being stylish and cool. Guess that's why I don't own many Apple products then!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Jason McLaughlin, Re: Why ...?

    "Why the Touch at Number 3 when both the Nano 4G and Sansa Clip beat it in their review scores?"

    I was wondering the exact same thing.

    You have a player at 85% beating out a player at 90% - according to their own rating system. Now that's some fuzzy math.

    Paris ... because she knows that 90 > 85

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    lol Apple fanbois...

  19. Peter
    Thumb Up

    Great gifts!

    Regardless of my own opinion about Sony or Apple, they all make nice shiny gifts for people who aren't perhaps couldn't care less about the IT angle.

    Got a Sony in red for me lass, and although the Sansa's my choice for flac and removable media, from playing with it in John Lewis the Sony's easy to use and sounds brilliant, all she really needs!

  20. Gary

    Uh oh

    Mention an apple product in a comparo, and you're sure to get one side or the other up in flames.

    I own the original iPod mini and it has served me well. This was after owning a couple other mp3 players and realizing none of them at the time stood up to the iPod. Since then, the non-apple mp3 players have improved tremendously in quality (though there are still quite a number of them that are junk too). Would I still get an iPod/iTouch today? Me personally, I probably would, but that doesn't mean everyone should.

    There's no doubt that the iPods are overpriced if you're just looking for a good quality mp3 music player. One could argue that the iPod/iTouch should be rated #1, but it will probably never be able to be rated #1 when price is a factor.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Get over the apple fanboy thing

    "Typical Apple fanboy response" vesus what? typical comment-tard response?

    Can I use any of the other devices to surf the internet while my pc is sat doing windows updates for the 10th time today? Can I watch a movie on them? Can I plug them into my car and continue listening on the way home? Can I play games on them? Have they got a touch screen? Can I get on youtube with them?

    Okay, so my ipod doesn't sound as good as my top range technics hifi through stupidly expensive mission speakers, it's a frigging portable mp3 player for crying out loud.

    People REALLY need to get over this fanboy thing and take a device on it's merits, not it's badge or 'cos el-reg says so.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    To see AC cutting off his nose to spite his face. He will be forever buying crap stuff because of his hate for Sony.. What did they do? Kill your Dreamcast/HD DVD or something????

    Grow up, or lose out...

  23. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    Re. Nano vs Touch

    The scores presented are those given by the devices' original reviewer(s). When we selected the top three, this time round, we were guided by the scores but we thought about the products again. The consensus here was that the Touch is the better top-three contender of the two Apple players, not least because anyone considering the Nano would - we think - be better off looking at the Sony, whereas the Touch stands on its own.

    That's not to say the Nano is a poor MP3 player. It's not, and that's why it's in the Best of the Rest category.

    But that's for MP3 players - how will the Touch rate against the likes of Cowon and Archos when we look at the top three PMPs next week?

  24. bob, mon!
    Thumb Up

    Hopethe reviews were right...

    I bought the wife a Fuze based on your review (and the presence of a microSD slot). If she doesn't like it, I'll take it. If I don't like it, I'll have to come after you all with a sonic screwdriver....

  25. Gis Bun

    Apple == Overpriced & Overhyped

    Unless I got it as a nice present this month, I wouldn't touch anything from Apple with a 10 foot pole. Poke around and you can find many issues with their hardware [not just iTouch]. They shoved a graphics card with a known issue into their new laptop. iPhones with hairline cracks and bad transfer speeds. Need I say more. let alone their deceptive ads which I know Mac lovers find them to be pathetic.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Thanks for this 'index' article, and the comments above were interesting and varied to say the least. I'll have to take a listen to the Sansa, but personally the iPod Touch is the worst of the MP3 players I own. Heck, even the el cheapo Creative Zen has a more pleasing sound - I was really disappointed! (and I don't consider myself an audiophile by any means)

    Maybe the Nano/Classic should have been substituted? Certainly my old 5th Gen "Classic" beats the newer Touch (1st Gen) for just about everything to do with playing sound (better quality reproduction, easier to use, etc)

    Meanwhile, I'll be the first to admit that it's a superb movie player, and the web stuff is just about usable. Where I use mine most is as an eBook reader - it's (imho) peerless for that!

  27. Spencer Davies

    It's About The Quality Of The Sound, Not The Looks Or Features!

    Like Sam York was saying, At the end of the day, You buy a MP3 player to play back music..In my opinion, I would look for which has the best potential for the sound output, not how many features that are on it.

    I have a Zen Vision M 60GB (Brilliant for video and can playback up to HD quality) and soon I will be getting a Sony NWZ-S639FB 16GB (£75 at because the reviews on the net say the sound is very good.

    I have had an Apple video 30gb, I've had a nano as well, Nice style...But thats about it in my eyes...My Zen Vision M beats it for sound everytime...Also the Itunes use to Apple is very negative in my eyes as instead getting any other brand where you can use it pretty much with any program (MediaMonkey, Media Player, Etc)

    People today seem to think that if its not made by Apple it's instantly crap compared to it (prepares for fanboy-ness to come in).

    From a neutral view...Would you rather pay £127 to 150 for a 16gb ipod nano or would you rather pay £75 a 16gb Sony NWZ-S639FB...Half the price..Better sound quality which has been said in many reviews across the net...Most people would say no brainer.

    4 Years ago I would agree that apple probably had the best lot out there for looks and sound quality..But times have changed, Companies such as Sony know that they cant charge top money for the name (remember their viao range?)..They lowered their price, more sales...Apple still charge a premium and in my opinion it no longer offers value for money.

  28. Madeye

    Online Shopping Hell

    Whatever you do, don't buy one of these from - a week ago I followed a link from this very review and bought a Sandisk Sansa Fuze 4Gb from them. I paid my money, got the confirmation of shipping email and waited ... and waited. I emailed them today asking where the order was and they told me the item was discontinued and my order had been cancelled. I wonder how long it would have taken them to inform me if I hadn't complained? The chances of another one arriving in the post before Christmas are slim in the extreme ... sad face sums it up

  29. Barry White
    Thumb Up

    Sansa Fuze

    Having had the player for a few months I have nothing bad to say about it except a few glitches here and there which can be easily fixed through firmware update. When scrolling through the song list there is a noticable pause when album art is being loaded (not a big problem, pause may only be 200 ms). Another thing I noticed which was annoying more than anything else was once you connect the USB cable and have headphones plugged in at the same time unclipping the USB cable without removing headphones is very difficult unless u have long nails. There seems to be no support for x64 operating systems when running Sansa Updater (workaround = right click > run as WinXP).

    Apart from these little things the player is very good and for the 50 quid I paid for my 8 gig player is much better than spending over a 100 for some of the competitors with same sized players. I already had a spare 8 SDHC card and it plugs in very easily and neatly and now I have 16 gigs of space to work with. FLACs work great and although pictures need to be resized before viewing on the player they all work fine in jpeg format. Sound quality as mentioned in the review is very good. Radio recording and voice recording works great and sound quality is as good as you hearing it live. I have no complaints about the functioning of the player.

    My advice get some decent in-ear headphones (I got creative ones for a 10er) and enjoy what this player has to offer.

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