iPod Touch (8GB)
The look Not everyone who has an iPod Touch is cool, but everyone who is cool has an iPod Touch. This MP3 player (a term Apple would no doubt consider dismissive if not derogatory) has all the bells and whistles. They could be a drawback, however, since the Touch might tempt you to poke and prod apps and features until one day you look up and realise you haven't listened to any song all the way through since 2009.
The features The iPod Touch is thinner than an iPhone, with a curved chrome-steel back. It also comes with a touch-screen Retina Display (backlit LED with a 960x640 pixel resolution), an integrated microphone and a front-facing and back-facing camera.
Sound decision For the tech savvy, the Touch is the iPhone minus the phone (and 3G connectivity): music, videos, podcasts, internet via WiFi and two cameras for photos and videos, not to mention access to zillions of free and paid apps via iTunes. It's all overkill, however, for those who just want to close their eyes and listen.
Sansa Fuze+ (8GB)
The look The Fuze+ comes in several bright colours and boasts a 2.4-inch digital display with a 320x240 pixel resolution. Its plastic design looks a bit boxy and outdated, but could also be less intimidating for the digitally uninitiated.
The features The Fuze+ pluses include an FM radio, a microphone for voice recording, Mac-compatible software that plays ACC-formatted music and podcasts, and a screen that can display videos and photos. Its key feature, however, is a trackpad-like touch interface that takes up the bottom half of the device, allowing you to swipe from screen to screen on an area that is actually below the screen.
Sound decision While it lacks the iPod Touch's "wow" factor, the Fuze+ also lacks its premium price. The interface can be sluggish at times, but the radio and simple interface make it an extremely useful, low-priced alternative.
Sony X-Series Walkman (16GB)
The look Sony wasn't messing around when it put this would-be iPod killer on the market. The X-Series is a sleek, sturdy and almost glimmering WiFi-enabled touch-screen MP3 player that is easy to navigate.
The features The X-Series has a three-inch OLED screen with a 432x240 pixel resolution. It also comes with an FM tuner and some better-than-average earbud headphones. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac software.
Sound decision The X-Series comes close to the iPod Touch's feature set (minus the Retina Display and zillions of apps) and it offers one of the best sound experiences in the market. Plus, it utilises "Slacker" software that basically gives you access to Web radio by storing songs for playback when you're not connected to the Web.