It may come as a shock to some, but there are still millions of people who don’t use their phones as their media players. For iPhone owners, that must be a huge shock. Android-smartphone owners are now growing a similar sentiment thanks to Google Music. With so many people using their phones as their media devices, the Portable Media Player (PMP) is dying out. However, not all phones make for good PMPs. Android’s media center gets better with each passing day, but is still light years behind the simplicity of both iTunes and Windows Phone 7 with Zune. At the same time, not everyone wants to use their phone as a PMP. Some people just want a dedicated device to listen to music to, or to view all media on. Whether it’s for a jog or a family car ride cross-country, PMPs are still a necessity, and these days they come at better prices than ever before.

iPod Nano

The iPod Nano is still the king of the run. There’s no better companion than the tiny music machine, which not only stores 8/16GB of music, pictures, and podcasts, but has a full FM radio and multi-touch touchscreen to boot. Even with just software updates and a slight price drop, the iPod Nano is the best PMP of it’s class, and a great device in general. It also makes a great gift…perfect for the stocking, or for a game of find-the-gift.

iPod Touch

Like the Nano, the iPod Touch only received a software update, to iOS 5.0, but it’s still the best PMP available to date. It’s a shame that no cosmetic or technical improvements have been made, such as a boost like the iPhone 4S received (over the iPhone 4), yet even with just a firmware upgrade the iPod Touch has access to all of the App Store’s apps, as well as the full catalog of iTunes music, movies and TV shows. There’s no better full-size PMP than the iPod Touch.

Galaxy Player 4.0/5.0

Apple may seem to be the only competitor in this field, but earlier this year Samsung showed off the Galaxy Player, similar to their Galaxy S phones. While the Korean and Asian models included functions to watch TV over the air, the US models are strictly on-device or Wi-Fi media players – no over the air. In two models, 4″ and 5″, the Galaxy Players are the first Android-based PMPs on the market.

Like the iPod Touch, both Galaxy Players run on last-year’s Galaxy S hardware, and still fully-capable of meeting all of your media needs. But unlike the iPod Touch, the Galaxy Players come with only 8GB of internal memory and include a MicroSD card slot that supports up to 32GB per card. The Galaxy Player also has an FM Tuner, though you’ll need headphones to activate it.

The more musically-inclined will enjoy the Galaxy Player 4.0, though it’s music store and media organization pales in comparison to iTunes (except for Google Music), while the Galaxy Player 5.0  is smaller than a tablet, but has a great size for watching movies or TV shows on the go

So what should I get?

For exercising or music always on the move, the Nano is the obvious choice. The real question comes up with the full-size media players, between not only the iPod Touch and Galaxy Player, but between the iPod, Galaxy Player 4.0 and 5.0. For strictly music and gaming, the iPod is by far the best, with the biggest App Store for games and iTunes for excellent music purchasing and synchronization. For video, the iPod Touch certainly surpasses the Galaxy Player 4.0 because of it’s Retina Display, though lack of flash playback means the 4.0 has access to a significantly larger amount of content.

But when it comes to the 5.0, hands down the Galaxy Player wins. The larger display, plus access to flash video while still being pocketable (and practically acting as a tablet) makes it more comfortable to watch videos on in any conditions, be it a cramped airplane or at home on the couch.

James Pikover

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.