"SubSonic Stage Alternative"3.0 starson by fly4free
Pros: Long battery life, pretty good sound, capacity
Cons: Sonic Stage, toggle switches, earbuds, no armband
Summary: Really long battery life and the 1GB storage were the deciding factors. The questionable durability of the toggling face/switch will be tested with time, since no armband/case is included. Toss the supplied earbuds, and with the limited equalizer, the sound is pretty good. The slider switches for the volume and hold/artist/album could use a non-skid material as there is very little feel to them. But, all in all, so far so good. Now to the real bummer.
Sonic Stage is seriously slow. Slow to install, slow to manage songs, slow to transfer from/to CD/file/player. It invaded my Windows ME laptop darn near to the point of lockup. Shame on you Sony!
Luckley there is an option. The Sony support website has a small program you can download ftp://ftp.sony.com/ccpg/portable/MP3FMV2_ENG.EXE . This little gem resides in the player so you can drag and drop right in Explorer. Get the player driver while you're there, and you don't even need Sonic Stage loaded on the computer. I think it works for mp3's only, so if you want the (subjectively) better ATRAC, your stuck with SubSonic Stage.
For me, it's a keeper. Get around Sony's music management nightmare, and this player has potential.