Q: I'm looking for a good replacement for my obsolete MP3 player, but I'm just tired of seeing the iPod that everyone has. So do you guys have any suggestions for any decent upcoming or already-out MP3 players? Also, can I ask what you guys think of the Samsung P3, the Iriver E50, and the Sony Walkman X-Series? Are they worth it, and when are they coming out?--JL, via e-mail
A: Since none of those players are out yet, and we therefore haven't been able to spend any hands-on time with review units, any opinions are preliminary at this point. I did get to spend a little time with the Iriver E50 and the Samsung P3, but I only saw the Sony X-Series Walkman under glass, so I don't have any observations on that besides what I wrote in the preview. Currently, Sony isn't releasing much info regarding a sale date, but early summer seems to be a safe bet. I can tell you that the Iriver E50 is like a smaller version of the E100. It has the same features and will probably offer similar sound quality, but it does have a higher-quality feel than the older player. One downside: I think the E50 is only going to go up to 4GB. It should be out any day now, though.
Similarly, the Samsung P3 offers almost all the same features as the P2 and will likely sound just as stellar as its predecessor did. The P3 also has a sleeker, nicer-feeling design, as it's constructed out of metal rather than plastic. It's also slightly more compact and offers an updated interface. Plus, some of the button placement is different. For example, the volume buttons are on the top rather than on the side. Incidentally, this is the one thing I'm personally not too fond of on the P3; I prefer volume on the side, but this is a seriously minute gripe. If you like touch screens, I think the P3 is definitely worth a look, and it's expected to hit shelves in mid-April.
As for players that are out right now, I have a few favorites. Far and above is the Sony Walkman S-Series, and you can read about my specific feelings on that in the review. There are also a couple others that I really like, but neither is very new: the SanDisk Sansa Clip for working out and, if you can find it, I still adore the Creative Zen V Plus. I do have to say as a video player, I love the iPod Touch. That's the only iPod I'll go to bat for, though, and I can certainly understand your sentiment about being sick of seeing it everywhere.
MP3 Mailbox Monday is a recurring feature where I answer a selection of questions about MP3 players and accessories, such as headphones, speakers, and music services and software. Check back often to see if the advice presented here might be of some use to you, or send your questions directly to me. (Note: We never include last names, but if you prefer to remain completely anonymous, please state as much in your e-mail.)