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This is why I still have a dedicated music player

These days, our smartphones can do everything. They organize our schedules, deliver important emails, take great pictures and videos, play games and movies, browse the web, and even control R/C quadcopters.

Naturally, this means they can replace devices whose functions they duplicate, like cameras, handheld gaming systems, and PDAs. However, there is still one thing that I can't replace with my smartphone, and that is my lowly digital audio player.

In my case, that lowly DAP is a Sansa Clip+, a device I purchased after much research on AnythingButiPod. You are probably asking how this simple device outperform my $500 smartphone. Well, there are actually a few answers to that question.

First, the Sansa Clip just plain has better sound quality than my smartphone. Now, I am no audiophile, so I don't know how it works, but I can tell a difference between the sound from my smartphone and the sound from the Clip. Perhaps it has something to do with all the extra electronics and radios in the smartphone, or maybe its all in my head. Still, I prefer listening to my OGG music files on the Clip to listening on my smartphone.

Another reason I still use my Clip for audio is that it is much more portable than a smartphone. Sure, smartphones are pretty small and light, but as you can see in the above photo my HTC Glacier is nowhere near as small as the Clip. Also, when running or biking with a smartphone in your pocket, the weight is constantly noticeable and as a result is quite annoying. With the Clip and other media players, you can hardly tell they are there at all.

Dedicated MP3 players also offer a distinct advantage when being used for outdoor activities, as they are much more durable than smartphones. Almost any MP3 player will withstand much more punishment than a smartphone would. 

This brings me to DAP's last advantage: price. Breaking a smartphone in any situation would set you back hundreds of dollars. If you can use a DAP player to do the same thing, you could save hundreds. Even if you break the device, a replacement will cost you less than $50 in most cases. My Sansa Clip only set me back $20, which makes it almost disposable.

Of course, smartphones do have their advantages as audio players. Primarily, I find that they are much better for listening to podcasts than MP3 players, because they can download the episodes themselves and do not need to be synced with a computer. With my Sansa Clip and gPodder, I have plug the Clip into my computer and press a sync button. This is not much more effort than a smartphone, but it is still a minor annoyance.

Despite that minor annoyance, I find that at least for my uses my smartphone cannot replace my audio player. That may change as smartphones get better, but personally I'm sticking with my Sansa Clip for now. So, has your smartphone replaced your audio player yet, or are you still waiting for a certain feature?

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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10 thoughts on “This is why I still have a dedicated music player

  • I still have to have my MP3 player as well. My phone just doesn’t cut it

  • I stopped using a dedicated MP3 player when I bought my Samsung Vibrant. That thing sounds better than any MP3 player I’ve ever used, even better than the Sony A series devices.

    Now, I have the same phone you do and I still don’t use a dedicated MP3 player. Why not? Because I miss fewer calls and messages this way. Sure, it doesn’t sound as good as a dedicated player (or a Galaxy S phone) but it is good enough when riding the bus or BART.

  • Personally, I dont get a lot of important calls or messages, so thats not a problem for me. If I did, the convenience of a smartphone would be a bigger deal.

  • Smartphones also tend to interrupt your music when a message, email or call comes through.

  • I feel that there are so few of us left, but I also cannot live without a dedicated mp3 player. I have a sansa clip+ as well, but that hasn’t seen any use since I got a 64gb Zune HD. For me it’s the sound quality, storage capacity, and user interface that makes my Zune irreplaceable. My Nexus S only has 16gb of internal storage, and no MicroSD card slot, many other smartphones can take up to a 32gb card, with only 1 or 2 GB of internal memory. That is no good when my music collection is 35GB and growing. The only phone I can think of that could match the Zune’s sound quality and UI is the iphone, but I have zero interest in iOS, and you’re capped at 32gb of memory on an iPhone. So for the foreseeable future, I too, will be carrying around two devices.

  • Avatar of Perdido

    I use the two things for this pourpouse, and the reason is the battery. If my ipod runs out of battery I don’t mind, but if mi Galaxy S drain its battery… It’s my time to cry.

  • I’m with you Corinn. I also have a Samsung Vibrant but coupled with Voodoo Sound v10 and PowerAmp, along with good sounding earphones. This combo has beat every MP3 player I’ve owned, even from Sony (last one I had was the NWZ-S616) and the Zune HD from Microsoft. Zune HD now sounds dull, plus I was very underwhelmed by the iPhone 4 when I compared its sound with my Vibrant’s.

  • Avatar of cyclicsun

    I am fairly picky about sound quality and for a long time I had a modded iPod Mini with a separate headphone amp. I got tired of carrying it around so finally, after a lot of consideration, this year I replaced that with a Nokia E7. Sound quality seems about as good without an amp. The real advantage for people who care about sound quality though is that you can connect a USB DAC to it and it sounds fantastic. Of course portability is somewhat an issue when using a DAC. I can’t go to the gym with it, I usually just use the regular headphone out in those cases. But for listening on a plane or in the office, it’s great. Also, the software options for playing back music are seriously lacking compared to the Rockbox I had on the iPod mini. But I think the advantage of having just one device (or 2 if you count the DAC) outweigh the disadvantages. Many people will also say that Symbian^3 is outdated and unusable but it’s not an issue for me, I can get all the usual tasks done on it.

  • That’s why there are custom ROMs/kernels for your Galaxy S device and toggling off some unnecessary functions and some apps that turns off stuff when not needed to save battery. I currently enjoy 32+ hrs from my Galaxy S (although I no longer use the battery saving apps since I now control everything). Battery is no longer a worry for me when I’m not home.

  • I should have mentioned that. Im just used to draining my MP3 player battery rather than my phones.


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