FOGEY 5 MP3 Players

Jan 11, 2011 No Comments by


The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

Other eternal optimists make personal media devices – Creative, Sony, Archos, Samsung, Cowon, Microsoft – but Apple and its iPod is king.

Apple iPod Nano 5th Generation

Far and away the most popular choice in terms of both expert and consumer reviews and sales.  This model has been superseded by a radically redesigned version but there are still plenty of the older soldiers around. It comes in a splatter of colour choices, 8GB or 16GB storage capacity (the latter equates to 40,000 songs or 16 hours of video), has a camera that shoots stills and video and FM radio with ‘live pause’ all wrapped in a polished anodised aluminium carapace. A miraculous bit of kit.  Word to the wise, though, courtesy of What Hi-Fi?: ditch the supplied earphones and invest in a pair of Sennheiser CX 300 IIs instead.  Launched Q3 2009

Around £150.  More info here.  Buy Apple iPod nano 5th gen in silver

Apple iPod Touch 3rd Generation 64GB

At the time, the absolute apex of life-wasting pocket technology.  If your waking hours are not filled with the trivial quest for money, food and happiness the iPod Touch will fill the yawning chasms in between.  Pretty much all it’s not is a phone.  It has a web browser so, if you’re within range of a wi-fi signal, you can access the Internet and its infinity of distractions.  Of course it plays music and video and can download all manner of audiovisual fluff from iTunes (using that wireless connection) but it’s the overall tactile loveliness of the thing that had the pundits fawning and stroking.  Like the 3rd generation iPhone it’s recently been superseded (see below) and new ones might be difficult to track down.  Apple, though, does sell refurbished models and the top-of-the-range 64GB will set you back around £250. Versions with less storage are commensurately cheaper. Launched Q3 2009.

More info here.  Buy Apple iPod Touch 64GB

Apple iPod Touch 4th Generation

As with its predecessor, this comes in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB versions costing £189, £249 and £329 respectively.  What this has that the 3rd Gen doesn’t is Face Time – video conferencing by any other name – facilitated by it having two camera lenses.  Great for showing sad stay-at-homes the view from your balcony in Bali.  The display is sharper and a more powerful processor means having several applications open at once doesn’t slow the show.  And as with iPhone there are the apps.  Thousands of the little buggers clamouring for your attention like a bevy of shouty market traders.  Launched Q3 2010.

More info here.  Buy Apple iPod Touch 8GB (4th Generation)

Apple iPod Classic 80/160GB

The Jonathan Ive-designed masterpiece that started it all and now in its 8th iteration, the Classic seems almost quaint next to the iPod Touch or any of the touch-screen devices. It won a 2009 What Hi-Fi Sound and Vision Award but that’s slightly misleading because it was the entire iPod/iPhone family that was honoured and like a wheezing octogenarian the Classic’s days must surely be numbered.  Having said that, it’s still streets ahead of most non-Apple opposition.  160GB of storage is HUGE – although that only equates to 40,000 songs (or 200 hours of video or 25,000 photos); same as the 16GB Nano.  Something to do with the difference between hard drive (Classic) and flash drive (Nano), no doubt.  I could explain, but do you really care? Launched Q3 2009.

Pay £193 (from Apple) or less.  More info here.  Buy Apple iPod classic 80GB black

Sony Walkman NWZ-A845

While it may seem only right and proper that iPods hog this category it would also be churlish to not let anyone else get a look-in.  So.  Sony.  For years they clung on to their proprietary formats (such as their Memory Stick in cameras and phones instead of the universally accepted SD cards) which meant their music players didn’t talk to iTunes.  Having swallowed a smorgasbord of pride and humble pie they are now on speaking terms with the ubiquitous music library and their cameras take SD cards.  Halleluiah.  The madness hasn’t stopped, though, because, I’m sorry, no digital media player is a ‘Walkman’ any more than my dad’s radiogram is a hi-fi.  Walkman = cassette; end of story.  And then they make it worse by adding a litany of daft and pointless letters and numbers.  ‘Check out my NWZ-A845!’ I mean, really.  It’s also known as the ‘A-Series’, just to muddy the waters to opacity.  The good stuff: 2.8-inch OLED (organic light emitting diode, since you ask) screen, decent earphones, built-in digital noise-cancelling, FM radio, 29 hours play time for music and because it’s ‘open format’ it will play anything – downloaded BBC iPlayer programmes for example.  It’s also very thin and very pretty, and at around £120 a proper alternative to the iPod Nano.  16GB of storage, in white or black. Launched Q2 2010.

More info here.  Buy Sony Walkman NWZ-A845 16GB

Fogey Find: Cowon J3

If you’ve never heard of Cowon here’s a heads up: Korean, founded in 1995, started out making voice-recognition software, launched first MP3 player in 2000.  They now have a range of 12 MP3 players cluttering up their offices in Seoul.  Of the J3 –  “Excellent sound quality and now-rare audio recording features make the Cowon J3 a top buy for sound quality enthusiasts,” said Trusted Reviews. “With good-quality headphones  the combination of drive, extension and detail in the lower octaves is really very fine,” said Tech Radar, who gave it a maximum 5 stars.  In terms of spec, the J3 has  64 hours music playback battery life, (11 hours for video/photos), 8, 16 or 32GB flash memory,  3.3″ AMOLED touch screen, FM tuner, microSD memory card slot and Bluetooth 2.0 compatibility.  The screen can flip from landscape to portrait but can’t they all these days?

From around £160.  More info here.  Buy Cowon J3 16GB black