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MP3 player reviews

Consumer Reports is the only place to find unbiased, independent MP3 player reviews. Most people want to know if they should buy an iPod or another brand of MP3 player. Another thing to consider is if you will want video. There are many other functions of an MP3 player that you’ll want to think about as well.

Our experts at the Consumer Reports National Testing and Research Center have evaluated more than 10 current MP3 player models at our on-site MP3 player testing labs. Our reviews will provide you with recommended MP3 player models based on price, performance, and features. You can also subscribe to our MP3 player Ratings, where you will find the exact numerical score our experts have assigned to each of the 11 tested review criteria: ease of use, headphone quality, audio playback time, damage resistance, still picture quality, motion video quality, video playback time, height, width, depth, and weight. We provide information on three brands: Apple, SanDisk, and Philips. Our MP3 player review pages also include a selection tool, where you can input brand, category, and price to narrow down the right MP3 player for your needs.

After reading the MP3 player reviews, you can compare models, review our list of the features and specifications, read user reviews, and submit your own review.

See more on MP3 player reviews.

Also look at our MP3 player buying guide, which shows you which features are important and gives you the pros and cons of each model.

Read the MP3 player reviews below and compare the Ratings of each model before you shop.

MP3 player reviews

Apple iPod Shuffle (2 GB) (4th gen)

Type: MP3 players
Summary: A 2 GB flash-memory MP3 player that includes a volume limiter to protect hearing.
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SanDisk Sansa Clip+ (4 GB)

Type: MP3 players
Summary: A 4 GB flash-memory MP3 player that includes FM radio with FM recording, a built-in microphone, equalizer and volume limiter to protect hearing.
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Apple iPod Nano (16 GB) (7th gen)

Type: MP3 players
Summary: A 16 GB flash-memory MP3 player that includes photo and video playback, Bluetooth, FM radio, equalizer, and volume limiter to protect hearing.
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SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip (8 GB)

Type: MP3 players
Summary: A 8 GB flash-memory MP3 player that includes FM radio with FM recording, a built-in microphone, and an equalizer.
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Apple iPod Classic (160 GB)

Type: MP3 players
Summary: A 160 GB hard-disk MP3 player that includes photo and video playback, equalizer, and volume limiter to protect hearing.
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What's behind our MP3 player Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 12 models in MP3 players to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is within types, in performance order. For music players, this score is based primarily on ease of use, headphone quality, audio playback time, and damage resistance. For media players, video and picture quality is also rated and included in the overall score. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points. Tests were carried out by International Consumer Research and Testing, a worldwide group that includes Consumer Reports.
  • Ease of use
    Ease of use mainly covers player characteristics that aid in convenience, versatility, and portability. These primarily include navigation and scrolling features; the accessibility and readability of the controls; and the readability and breadth of the information in the display (such as music-track data and battery-life indicator); size and weight; and ease of use while walking or jogging. Some features and capabilities considered include the presence of an FM radio, built-in microphone, upgradeable firmware, equalizer, data storage, software assessment, and the player's ability to be recognized as a hard drive by the computer without the installation of additional drivers.
  • Headphone quality
    Headphone quality reflects judgments from a listening panel comparing the player and its supplied headphone to a test audio CD and a high-fidelity headphone. All uncompressed (audio CD or WAV) test music sources were ripped (encoded) to MP3 format (128, 192, and 256 kbps CBR rate) using a high-quality encoder.
  • Audio playback time
    Audio playback time (hours) reflects lab measurements of continuous playback time to the nearest hour, using a selection of music tracks encoded to MP3 format at a 128 kbps constant bit rate (CBR); fully charged rechargeable batteries; backlight at the minimum setting; with included headphone; and volume set at a reasonable level. For players that can use standard batteries such as alkaline, expect a bit longer playback time. Our measurements should not be compared with those stated by the manufacturer, which may use different testing methods and criteria.
  • Damage resistance
    Damage resistance mainly reflects drop-test results; scratch- and wipe-resistance results were also considered.
  • Still picture quality
    Picture quality is based on evaluation of the player in indoor and outdoor setting, plus the display's viewing angle.
  • Motion video quality
    Motion video quality is based on evaluation of the player in indoor and outdoor setting, plus the display's viewing angle.
  • Video playback time
    Video playback time (hours) reflects lab measurements of continuous video playback time to the nearest hour with fully charged rechargeable batteries. Our measurements should not be compared with those stated by the manufacturer, which may use different testing methods and criteria.
  • Height
    The player's height is measured to the nearest tenth of an inch, and listed the way the player would be oriented if you were viewing the screen.
  • Width
    The player's width is measured to the nearest tenth of an inch, and listed the way the player would be oriented if you were viewing the screen.
  • Depth
    The player's depth is measured to the nearest tenth of an inch, and listed the way the player would be oriented if you were viewing the screen.
  • Weight
    How much the player weighs in ounces, including batteries but not including accessories. For models with no internal memory, the memory card is included.

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