Although there are plenty of fabulous MP3 players out there, no one device is perfect. For years, I've kept a list of dream features, many of which remain unchecked. One of these is support for every single audio codec, from Apple Lossless all the way down to WMA Lossless. A tall order, but one that would not be unappreciated by others, such as one reader who would like a non-iPod MP3 player that supports Apple Lossless. Also this week: do lanyard-style headphones for the later-generation iPod Shuffle exist?
Q: I'm looking for a new MP3 player. I use a Mac, but I'm not a big fan of the iPod. I want something relatively compact. It doesn't need to play video. I would like something that can play Apple Lossless.--Ian, via e-mail
A: Unfortunately, Apple's iPods are the only MP3 players that I know of that support Apple Lossless. However, if you're willing to deal without that particular feature, there are several alternative players that work with Macs.
Q: I have an iPod Shuffle, but I don't really like using the clip. I bought a case for it and it had a lanyard hole. My question is do you know where I can get lanyard headphones? I want a pair that are like canal earphones and one that you think are noteworthy. I've looked everywhere and only found one for the iPod Nano. Do you have any suggestions?--Oscar, via e-mail
A: Unfortunately, I haven't seen any earbuds that allow you to wear the second- or third-generation Shuffle around your neck--I think manufacturers just figured the clip was good enough. However, there is an alternative: the Arriva Shuffle In-Ear Headphones. These are a similar idea to lanyard-style headphones, except rather than hang the player down your front, they keep the Shuffle secured at the base of your neck. The one issue is that controlling the player can be awkward.
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.)