I mostly listen to audio books, podcasts and lectures, but occasionally I also turn on some music. So far I’ve not yet encountered a player that would incorporate all the following features that I consider crucial:
- variable playing speed (100-300%) – this one is so crucial, since it saves so much time! 175-200% is often the norm for me when listening.
- bookmarks – as above, it’s hard to live without it.
- auto-save of current position on power-off – seemingly obvious, right? think again!
- physical buttons, especially volume, pause/play and lock – I keep my player in my pocket, and when I’m driving, riding a bike or simply running, I prefer the tactile input, and don’t want to look at the screen at all.
- variable speed of fast-forward and rewind – in case I need to get to the fifth hour of eight hour of a book, I don’t want it to take 10 minutes! Ideally it would be pressure-sensitive, but I can live with the one that increases the speed in time
- aac and aax compatibility – yeah, I use Audible, and would prefer not to waste time on transcoding this stuff to mp3s.
- folder browsing and playlists – ideally selected on a PC, but I could live with player-selected playlists that actually work.
- good handling of VBR encoded mp3s – believe it or not, there are files which can confuse most players on the market… bookmarks don’t work for them, nor fast-forwarding or rewinding.
- long battery life – for long trips, either on the road, or in the air.
And I think this is it. I would love to have sound normalization to 0dB, but I’m a realist here, especially with 8h sound files. I can live with good volume slider or buttons.
I used to have Creative Zen, and I liked it very much for its interface, but it didn’t have the feature number 1, and it died on me a couple years back. Right now I use Vedia B6 – it doesn’t have features no 2, 5, 6 and 8, and is quite an unstable product, to say the least. But after discovering feature number 1, I never looked back.
If you happen to know a player that suits all my needs – hey, let me know. If you build one – even better