Anti-Apple Shopper Opts
by Lynnea Dally


I’ve never been much of an audiophile. I’ve gone most of my life without any device to play music, but after getting into bicycling, and after several long rides, I decided to cave in and invest in a MP3 player. After all, it would be nice to have something to listen to while pedaling for hours on end. 

I decided from the get-go that I would not invest in an iPod. I hate Apple’s black silhouette advertisements, promising individuality in conformity, the high prices to help pay for those ads, and its dedication to form over function. Like the inexplicable lack of a secondary mouse button on computers, I suspect that Apple has removed similarly basic functions from the iPod to conform to their simplistic model. And finally, iPods have a reputation of not being durable. 

So I set off on an adventure to find an MP3 player with less celebrity attached to it that focused on quality instead of gimmicks. 

My first candidate was the Zune, made by Microsoft. A bit ironic, I admit, to shun a major corporation in favor of an even larger corporation, but my plan was to give an MP3 player its fair shake based on features and performance, not because of what brand it was. But after a simple Google search, I learned that Microsoft’s Zune was a bit Digital Rights Management-happy, and decided not to support them. 

Luckily enough, my next candidate was perfect for me. I stumbled across the SanDisk’s Sansa line of MP3 players, which were quite impressive. They were practical and cheap. The first few models I looked at were shaped sort of like large flash drives and seemed like the best deal initially. They would never be mistaken for iPods, but I steered away from them because they did not attach to clothing, which would mean they couldn’t come on my bike rides. So I found the Sansa e250 on that was shaped like an iPod, had two gigs of memory, a 20-hour battery life, a video screen, and something Apple’s lacks: an FM radio receiver. It even had its own, cooler version of an exercise band. I couldn’t wait for the UPS truck to come. 

Unfortunately, either or the third party company messed up; the company notified me that model I ordered from was out of stock. So instead they sent me a Sansa Clip, which was even cheaper — with free shipping it came out to only $60. I still had my two gigs of memory, 15 hours of battery life, incredibly intuitive navigation screen system, and an FM radio receiver, but the player was smaller than the e250. The iPod shuffle, by comparison, has two gigs, 12 hours of battery life, no radio, a poor navigation system, and no screen for 70 bucks. I clearly got more for less. Not to mention that the removable clip eliminated my need for exercise arm bands. This smaller model was perfect for going on long bike rides, probably even better than the one I had picked out originally. 

When it arrived in the mail I was ecstatic. I got 10 free songs and a trial month of Rhapsody’s music-listening features. Rhapsody easily absorbed and uploaded my previous MP3s and podcasts onto my Sansa, and it gets all my favorite radio channels around Santa Barbara. I clipped it on, and headed out on a three-hour musical trek from my place in Santa Barbara to the beaches north of UCSB. While riding through campus, I collided with an inexperienced bicyclist and fell right on my new Sansa. A wave of horror washed over me. Was it ruined? Would the screen be cracked? Pixels dead? The memory wiped? But it was fine. I have no doubt that a less sturdy product would have been smashed and scrambled. I’ve been using it for only a while now and I absolutely love it. I am so glad I ignored the hype and went for the practical player instead.