Okay, we’ll say it, and understand that we’re writing this post on an old iBook: the iPod line is starting to look tired. Sure, that Touch is elegant in the same way as the iPhone—but its capacity is similar to the Nano, and what if don’t want to carry around a Kubrick-style slab of minimalism? There are now some really nice alternatives out there if you’re willing to walk away from the perks of being a member of the Apple camp.
For example, the revamped SanDisk Sansa View has double the memory and a slightly bigger screen than the new iPod Nano, plus an FM tuner, microphone, and expansion slot, and it costs the same amount. Is it as nice looking? Meh, it’s getting hard to tell at this point, if you value functionality over form. Even the Zune—with a capacity and price equal to the iPod—is starting to look decent, with its well-designed interface, strong styling, and broader format support.
The one thing you’ll miss out on is the ease-of-use of being locked into the iTunes/iPod symbiotic relationship. Depending on how comfortable you are with figuring out a new syncing set-up, this may or may not be an issue for you.
The article brings up another potential drawback, depending on how you look at it: you won’t find anywhere near the same aftermarket support when it comes to accessories and cases. But then again, if the product is made properly, it doesn’t really need a case, whereas digital audio players that are designed to wear when working out usually come with straps or attachments.
(Disclaimer: we rely on a screenless Shuffle, which has its own obvious drawbacks, and our Nokia phone, which would be perfect if not for the battery drain.)