Variety is the spice of life: the best WMA players
September 26, 2005
The Apple iPod family maintains roughly 80 percent of the overall world MP3-player market share. The remaining 20 percent belongs to several MP3 brands you've definitely heard of: Creative, Samsung, Sony, SanDisk, iRiver, Dell, Cowon, Archos, and so on. Of all the ones mentioned, only Sony MP3 players (and of course the iPod) do not play the WMA audio format. If you're into Microsoft's omnipresent WMA format, you have a ton of choices for both players and music stores, and in a growing number of cases, subscription services. Although the following devices are runners-up to Apple's iPod in terms of units sold, most of them can compete and are actually better than the iPod in some respects. Most of us agree that one of the prime factors for the iPod's wide success is its singular, digestible, reliable, and easy-to-use iPod ecosystem, which includes iTunes, the iTunes Music Store, and AAC. But we also agree that the world of WMA, which includes players such as Creative's colorful Zen Micro, Samsung's flashy YP-T7, and Cowon's do-it-all X5, as well as a virtual shopping mall of stores (such as MSN Music and Wal-Mart Music Downloads) and subscription services (such as Yahoo Music Unlimited and Napster To Go), offers something that Apple and Sony can't: choices.