Best MP3 Players to Enjoy Music on the Go in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 2, 2017
An MP3 player is a must-have gadget for those who like listening to music on the go. This portable sound playback device allows you to store tons of music and enjoy it via your headphones practically in any place any time you want. Check our review with the best 5 portable music player models to choose the most suitable one. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Supported Formats
Battery Life
Storage
Usability Features
Warranty
 
PROS

The fast charging function is supported, allowing the player to charge in three minutes enough for playing music for an entire hour. A full charge takes 70 minutes, which is a pretty good charge time.

CONS

Comparatively small list of formats supported.

OUR VERDICT

If you need a portable music player with user-friendly controls, stylish design and ability to always deliver a pleasurable clean sound, the Sony NWZ-B183B is your choice. The model is available in 3 colours.

detailed parameters
Supported Formats

Audio Formats: MP3, WMA

Battery Life

Up to 20 hours

Storage

4 GB

Usability Features

OLED display with 128x36 pixels resolution, 5-band sound equalizer, Bass booster, FM Tuner.

Warranty

1-year

PROS

Supports a slot for installing a microSD memory card, which allows you to significantly increase the storage space for your music library.

CONS

The max volume level is automatically reduced when EU localisation is selected.

OUR VERDICT

With the SanDisk Clip Jam, you can not only count on the high-quality reproduction of your favourite tracks but also on a long continuous music playing and convenient device clipping to your clothes. Te Clip Jam is available in 5 colours.

detailed parameters
Supported Formats

Audio Formats: MP3, WMA (no DRM), AAC, WAV, Audible (DRM only)

Battery Life

Up to 18 hours

Storage

8 GB

Usability Features

OLED display with 128x64 pixel resolution, microSD/microSDHC cards support, clip holder, FM Tuner.

Warranty

2-year

PROS

High battery life on a single full charge enables a long music listening without any worries about the device recharging.

CONS

The buttons arrangement is not very convenient and ergonomic.

OUR VERDICT

HccToo is a multimedia player which mobility and functionality will bring you a pleasure. This gadget will not only allow you to listen to music, but also watch short videos, read e-books, and listen to the radio. Available in 3 colours.

detailed parameters
Supported Formats

Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, FLAC, APE, AAC, OGG, ACELP. 

Video Formats: AMV

Battery Life

Up to 45 hours

Storage

16 GB

Usability Features

Playback position save and resume, convenient tracks search system, FM tuner and voice record.

Warranty

30-day

PROS

The model is literally weightless and sports only 12.5 grams of total weight. However, this light weight does not affect its sturdiness, thanks to a solid shell of anodized aluminium.

CONS

A small volume of the available memory.

OUR VERDICT

The player with controls layout and design that have become classics by the famous Apple, which for all its external simplicity offers a full immersion into the world of quality music. Available in 5 colours.

detailed parameters
Supported Formats

AAC, Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (including VBR), Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV

Battery Life

Up to 15 hours

Storage

2 GB

Usability Features

29 VoiceOver languages, Apple Earphones, clip holder

Warranty

1-year

PROS

The Btopllc is equipped with a bright colour screen that together with other hardware not only enables a display of a colourful equalizer menu when playing tracks but also view high-quality photos and videos.

CONS

The battery life is fairly small.

OUR VERDICT

This portable multimedia device offers not only an advanced functionality but also excellent sound and compactness, which makes it a wonderful travel companion. The model is manufactured in several colour and onboard storage capacity options.

detailed parameters
Supported Formats

Audio Formats: MP3, WAV, APE, FLAC

Video Formats: AMV

Photo Formats: JPG 

Text Formats: TXT


Battery Life

Up to 5-8 hours

Storage

16 GB

Usability Features

Earphones, E-Reader, Games, FM tuner, Gallery, Video Player, 1.7" LCD screen, microSD/microSDHC cards support.

Warranty

30-day

What is an Mp3 Player?

An MP3 player is a compact electronic device designed for playing various digital media and outputting the sound to headphones via the built-in port. Initially designed for playing MP3 files only that were most popular at the time, over the years the functionality of these devices was expanded to enable the playback of other sound formats. Thus, digital players gained a support of such lossy formats as OGG, AC3, WMA as well as lossless FLAC, APE, ALAC formats. Even more to that, as most MP3 players are equipped with displays of different sizes and panel technology used to control music playback, some manufacturers implemented such advanced features as video playback, photo and text viewing,  FM radio, voice record support on their devices. 

Designed with portability in mind MP3 players are small and can be easily carried in your pocket or worn clipped on clothes (in case they have a special spring clip). These digital devices use internal memory or memory cards to store the supported media and use built-in or user replaceable batteries for their operation. 

As seasoned music lovers already know the audio performance of your portable rig depends not only on the sound source but also on the headphones you use. Thus, to get the most out of your equipment, check our headphones review.

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What Features to Compare

When choosing an MP3 player we first suggest checking the Supported Formats. As the name states the player should support MP3 files playback by default, however, we recommend choosing a model that also supports such modern standards as WAV, WMA, FLAC, etc. Actually, the more audio formats your device can play the better as you may not have all your favourite tracks available in MP3. Besides, some MP3 players are capable of playing video files and viewing photos of certain formats, thus you'd better be aware of all the formats supported by the player. This knowledge will enable using your gadget to the full as well as prevent problems of not being able to listen to or watch media content you've uploaded to the device.

Another important parameter that greatly affects the convenience of use of your MP3 player is its Battery Life. With a rapid technology development, the battery life bar was raised to dozens of hours of continuous music playback. Again, the longer the battery life the less often you'll have to recharge your digital player or replace its battery. With that, 20 and more hours is considered a decent result.

The next point we advise paying your attention to when deciding on a specific MP3 player model is the Storage Capacity. Still, the same applies to the storage capacity: the larger the storage the more songs and videos you can keep and enjoy on your player. With that, 1 GB capacity allows you to store more than 7 hours of lossy MP3 music in maximum quality achievable with this format, which is good for a one-day listening. However, with the same storage, the result is far less impressive for an uncompressed lossless WAV format (providing even better sound quality)- slightly more than an hour and a half.

Last but not the least is Usability Features. Based on our experience, the arrangement and ergonomics of control buttons are really important. We also think that navigation through folders, switching between tracks, volume control indication and the way an information about the current track is displayed on the screen greatly affect your player usability. However, for some users, such additional features as, for example, shockproof and water-resistant case, integrated camera or a microphone are the options that also have significant value.

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Sony NWZ-B183B

A Stylish Minimalism

This portable player by Sony is a compact solution that will not be larger in size than lipstick or USB flash drive. Its dimensions are 84.5 x 22.2 x 13.4 mm and the weight is only 30 grams. This model is available in several colours with the case design and ergonomics being the same. As for the case of this MP3 player, it is made of aluminium, which not only makes the device more lightweight but also more shock resistant, sturdy and less prone to scratches than a plastic case. When engineering the NWZ-B183B with the USB connector the manufacturer provided for a cap that is seamlessly integrated into the player exterior design and protects the connector part from clogging, picking dirt and getting damaged. What is also important about the player ergonomics, is the arrangement of its control keys, which is very convenient. In total, there are 7 of them: there are two keys for a convenient volume control on the upper surface of the device along with the HOME/BACK key, the on/off key and the HOLD keys are located on the back surface. The two fast forward/backward and track skip keys, as well as the play/pause button, are located on the front side. Such control elements layout allows you to blindly operate the player without getting it out of your pocket.

Review of Sony NWZ-B183B

A Professional Walkman Sound

Walkman is a popular brand created by Sony, which specializes in the engineering of high-quality sound solutions and manufacture of a wide range of devices and accessories one way or another related to the sound. That's why the Sony NWZ-B183B is one of the best portable MP3 players by the company that is produced under the Walkman brand. It was designed with all the necessary sound performance parameters that high so that you can fully experience a real beauty and immersion into your music. Among the factors, which greatly contribute to such a high music performance we should mention the five-band customizable equalizer, which allows you to configure each band manually or use the preinstalled presets. This solution enables a more flexible sound adjustment, which is beneficial for pairing the NWZ-B183B with different earphones and listening to different music genres. Moreover, the implemented Bass Boost feature will be definitely highly regarded by the fans of modern electronic genres as enabling it allows a significant accentuation of lower frequencies and makes the sound more punchy and exciting.

Sony NWZ-B183B in the use

The Operation Time That Makes Difference

The Sony NWZ-B183B means not only a good sound and ease of use, it's also a highly energy-efficient device that can maintain a continuous playback of your music during the whole day. A big advantage of this model in terms of power use is the availability of the proprietary fast charging feature by Sony. Using the feature you can enjoy your music on this Walkman MP3 player for up to 1 hour after charging the device for only 3 minutes. With the full charge cycle taking about 70 minutes you get up to 20 hours of continuous player operation.

Detailed review of Sony NWZ-B183B

A Valuable Addition

The manufacturer includes decent quality headphones in the player supply package. However, in order to get the best sound out of this device, we recommend purchasing a higher class headphones with better sound performance and higher sensitivity.

Sony NWZ-B183B application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Sony NWZ-B183B
Sony NWZ-B183B
 

SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam

A Solid Performer with a Decent Set of Capabilities

The SanDisk company is rather famous and known to be one of the leading manufacturers of PC storage drives and flash memory devices. The company also manufactures high-quality digital players that offer nice features and high reliability. The SanDisk Clip Jam has a 8 GB onboard storage, which you can dramatically expand with a memory card, the slot for which is provided on this device, thus significantly increasing its available storage space for your favourite music tracks and audio books. Please keep in mind, when using a memory card you will be able to access the music and sound files stored on the memory card and the internal memory only separately and in turns with no possibility of creating a playlist or a media library that contains both. The Clip Jam can play most popular audio formats, including the MP3, WMA (without DRM), AAC, WAV and Audible (DRM-protected only). It is a logical and welcome decision for the manufacturer to maximally facilitate the synchronisation of this big storage device with your PC: you don't need to install additional software, just connect the player to your PC via the cable to have it detected as a removable medium and getting a full control of the media library stored on the Clip. In addition, if you are in the mood for some new music, you can also just turn on the built-in FM Tuner and select the radio station you like most.

Review of SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam

A Practical Approach

The SanDisk Clip Jam is quite a small MP3 solution with a small weight. The device dimensions are mere 66 x 40 x 16 mm and its weight is only 24 g. The device shape adds to its portability and ease of wearing as the Clip Jam case is equipped with a spring clip that allows an easy attachment to your clothes making this model one of the best MP3 players for running. In fact, this design comes in handy for using this SanDisk audio gadget when doing any kind of physical exercises due to its clip as usually sports clothing can't provide a large number of pockets to put the player in. The rounded edges of the Jam model also contribute to a comfortable grip and better overall ergonomics. At the same time, this modern piece of audio equipment is not devoid of style and the manufacturer offers it in 5 colours ranging from a classic black colour to a fresh pink.

SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam in the use

A User-Friendly UI

The Clip Jam player has a very simple and intuitive user interface. As one of the best small MP3 players, the Jam model uses a quality and high-contrast screen with one-inch diagonal size for visual data output, on which you can read the information on the current track in almost all lighting conditions. On the front panel, under the screen, there are the control keys, which arrangement enables a full-fledged blind operation of the device in your pocket. Such brilliant usability can even save you time and efforts otherwise spent on stopping to switch between tracks or albums.

Detailed review of SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam

Impressive Battery Life

Concerning the battery life, this model is listed among the best in numerous MP3 player reviews as its energy-efficient circuitry and low-consumption display enable the device to operate in a non-stop mode for up to 18 hours, which is comparable to a day-long activity period of an average person. With that, charging the device can be done via a USB port of a PC or a laptop, or a cell phone charger with a cable with a standard USB plug.

SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam
SanDisk SDMX26-008G-G46K Clip Jam
 

HccToo 685-black

Portable Versatility

The HccToo is a comparatively little-known brand, which like most of emerging companies today originates from China. Despite its small popularity, the product we've picked for our review attracts attention if only because it has enviable specifications while retaining high portability and usability, which is also important. This one of the latest MP3 players by the brand is available in three colours, thus embracing a wide audience with different tastes. The colour range includes blue colour options, pink and black variants. With that, all these models come in size of only 9.2 x 3.8 x 0.8 cm weighing 35 g, which undoubtedly adds to the comfort of wear. Calling the HccToo 685 an MP3 player only is an underestimation of its capabilities, as in addition to playing various music formats, it can also be used as a miniature e-book, photo storage, portable voice recorder and even a miniature video player. All these features are conveniently implemented, although you will need getting used a little bit to such a small display, in comparison to one of the modern mobile phones. The build material is a nice addition to the design of this digital media player. The 685 is made of matte plastic, which will not only allow a comfortable grip but also provides a good resistance to dirt all to the pleasure of portable devices perfectionists.

Review of HccToo 685-black

A Multimedia Multifunction Unit

The HccToo 685 comes with an admirable set of supported audio formats that are commonly used today to encode high-quality music and sound. This comprehensive list of supported audio includes such popular lossy formats as MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, and ACELP, as well as such advanced lossless formats as APE and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). The crucial difference between these types of files lies in the audio data encoding method they use, as APE and FLAC, contrary to MP3 and similar formats, offer the reduction of original audio size with no quality loss. Such an approach has two consequences, however: .flac files provide much less data compression ratio and thus are bigger than MP3 files of the same length, but the FLAC format clearly demonstrates the best possible sound quality of resulting files. In addition to audio, this model by HccToo can play AMV videos, which is very handy for downloading videos to your device and making the time on the road more fun.

HccToo 685-black in the use

Player Accessories

The digital audio player supply package includes the headphones, which allows you to enjoy your music on the device out of the box. Though based on our experience, if you are in for a quality audio experience, we recommend using better quality earphones in terms of audio reproduction and sensitivity. For charging and synchronising this portable media device with your PC, the package also includes a USB cable, which by the way can be connected to any charger with a USB slot and used to charge the player from a power socket.

Detailed review of HccToo 685-black

Several Days on a Single Charge

There is no doubt that the HccToo 685 shows its great advantage when it comes to battery life. The high energy efficiency of the device internals is combined with its capacious battery allowing you to listen to the device for up to 45 hours. This battery life is simply unattainable for many competitors.

HccToo 685-black application

HccToo 685-black
HccToo 685-black
 

Apple iPod Shuffle

A Legendary Model by the Legendary Manufacturer

The iPod Shuffle is the 4 generation and the third reissue miniature series by Apple. And with each iteration of this line of the best portable quality MP3 players, these elegant devices are becoming more and more perfect. From the very first Shuffle device, the concept of maximum simplicity of use has been persistently conformed to. These players are designed with minimal functionality and intended exclusively for listening to music, additional functions are not available as such. The dimensions of this portable iPod are only 31.6 x 29.0 x 8.7 mm and the weight is minuscule 12.5 g. That is why these players belong to the most compact music device series available on the market today, yet they are ones of the most reliable. The series products are released in multiple colours to please a wide audience. Since 2015, the updated lineup has been represented with devices of the following colours: silver, gold, gray space, pink, blue, red. Thanks to this, the Shuffle player will harmoniously fit into the individual style of any user. Though the release date of this line was September 1, 2010, these players still enjoy a high popularity among music lovers and fans of Apple devices.

Review of Apple iPod Shuffle

A Simple yet Outstanding Solution

As you've probably heard, iPod Shuffle MP3 players have absolutely no display, instead, Apple has implemented an original solution that many users will certainly appreciate. We're talking about the VoiceOver feature, which can be activated by pressing the dedicated key enables the device to announce a track and a playlist title through the headphones connected, thereby informing you of the name of the current track. It is interesting that the VoiceOver supports 29 languages, which makes it useful for users of many nationalities.

As for the main element of the device design, which is the body, it is manufactured entirely from anodized aluminium, which serves as a lightweight yet reliable and durable cover for all the internal components. Being a balanced all-around solution, probably the only aspect of the Shuffle that may disappoint its users is a relatively small storage, which amounts to 2 GB only. On the other hand, one can't deny this iPod player having as simple controls as possible. With all the control keys placed on the front panel, this compact music device by Apple is so easy to use and operate that you can control it blindly with one finger. In addition, the clip attached to the Shuffle body, allows you to conveniently affix your music playing gadget on your clothes.

Apple iPod Shuffle in the use

What You Get in the Pack

The pair of Apple branded headphones included in the supply package, which offers a decent sound quality will definitely please the music fans who chose this iPod model. The package also contains a proprietary cable that is used for synchronising your player with a PC or a laptop as well as charging it.

Detailed review of Apple iPod Shuffle

Music Formats Supported and Synchronisation

In order to load your beloved tracks to your Shuffle, you will need to install the iTunes 12.2 or newer on your computer and complete the registration before using the software. However, once you've done this you can buy new music and manage the existing tracks in the iTunes and it will be synchronised automatically with your portable MP3 player when it is connected. This mini DAP supports the following sound formats available for download : AAC (8 to 320 kbps), AAC protected (for iTunes Store files), MP3 (8 to 320 kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4 , Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX and AAX +), and lossless Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV formats.

Apple iPod Shuffle application

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Apple iPod Shuffle
Apple iPod Shuffle
 

Btopllc Mini

Numerous Formats, Numerous Features Supported

The Btopllc is a multimedia unit that was engineered not only to play music and audio but also a variety of video formats as well as to store and display photos, e-books, and other digital media. Thus, an extensive list of supported formats, which includes uncompressed and compressed lossless files will allow you to fully enjoy your favourite music in its maximum quality and original form.

This digital audio and video player sports an aluminium case, while its weight amounts to 141 grams. The device is manufactured in several modifications, which differ in memory volume and case colours. The totality of colour options comprises seven case colours: black, orange, pink, silver, blue, green, purple. Ergonomic, oval-shaped in the lateral section design of the Btopllc allows you to conveniently carry and operate the device with one hand. A common yet effective solution that adds to the convenience of the player carrying, is a loop at the bottom of its case, which allows you to use a cord to hang the player on your neck or a backpack. To tune the music to your current mood and your earphones sound signature there are several equalizer presets, including Natural, Rock, Pop, Classic, Soft, Jazz modes.

Review of Btopllc Mini

Bright Individuality

The main feature that makes this device stand out from other miniature player models is the 1.7-inch colour display. With such player versatility, the display not only allows you to view information on the track currently playing but allows you to view your favourite photos or read electronic books from the Btopllc's memory card. However, the capabilities of this DAP are not limited to image/video viewing and audio output as the built-in digital voice recorder enables an easy activation of the voice recording function from the microphone. This feature is especially handy for students at lectures.

If you already have listened to your music library far and wide so it became boring, and for some reason, you can't load new tracks to your Btopllc, you can resort to using the built-in FM tuner. Just tune the device to your favourite station to catch some fresh motives and take a listen to new hits. This portable MP3 player is supplied with all the accessories you need for its use - you will find a data cable, a pair of headphones and a memory card, depending on the model you've chosen. The bundled memory card serves as the main storage for your media files on the digital player. In addition, having connected the Btopllc to your PC or a laptop you can use the device as a card reader providing data exchange with the memory card inserted.

Btopllc Mini in the use

Well-Thought-Out Controls as a Guarantee of a Good Usability

The main control elements of this digital media device are rendered as a cross-shaped joystick, with which you can easily navigate through the bright animated items of the player menu. Upon entering a submenu, the keys will change their function according to the current context, thereby demonstrating maximum flexibility and practicality. On the bottom of the case of this model, there is an on/off switch, which also serves for the keys blocking. Owing to this dedicated switch you are saved from accidental key presses, which otherwise may be very annoying.

Detailed review of Btopllc Mini

Battery Life and Synchronisation

A fairly large display used reduces the device battery life. For an average active use, you get up to 5 - 8 hours of operation on a single charge. With that, you can charge the device from a usual USB port of a laptop, while updating the media library on the Btopllc memory card.

Btopllc Mini application

Btopllc Mini
Btopllc Mini
 

FAQ:

Q: What is an MP3 player anyway?

A: As you most probably know from your own experience, an MP3 player is a portable digital device intended for playing music and audio files stored in a built-in memory or a memory card and outputting the sound to your headphones. However, over the last few years, such devices have evolved from simple small MP3 players that support a few music formats equipped with minimalistic monochrome displays to versatile digital devices with a comprehensive support of sound formats, wireless connection, colour touchscreen, rich connectivity capabilities and other advanced features. These modern gadgets are often called DAPs (digital audio players) with no sharp distinction between the two.

Q: What is the difference between various MP3 player models?

A: While the basic functionality of playing back your music remains the same for all the MP3 players, they may significantly differ in advanced features. For the players, the number of supported file formats may range from mp3 and WAV to a list of all the popular lossy (i.e. mp3, OGG, AC3) and lossless (FLAC, ALAC, APE) formats, including the so-called high-resolution files (with 24 bit 192 kHz and higher sampling rate). Moreover, with powerful hardware, large screen and advanced software implemented latest MP3 players can play various video digital content, which turns some of them into best portable media players. Some models support voice recording, offer an SD/micro SD cards support in addition their built-in memory. The time you can listen to your music on a single charge or without replacing the battery also varies for different digital players depending on the battery used. With that, the best portable mp3 players offering 20 and more hours of continuous music listening. However, this parameter may be two times smaller for really high-quality MP3 players equipped with high-performance audio circuitry able to drive high-impedance headphones and delivering an outstanding listening experience.

Q: Why do I need an MP3 player when my smartphone can play audio?

A: Aside from a better portability, good MP3 players usually offer a better sound performance, thus making listening to your music more exciting. Another factor one needs to keep in mind is that using a separate player for your music prevents your smartphone battery from discharging much ahead of time. Q: What are most common MP3 player use scenarios?A: Though MP3 players are used mostly on the go, you can use these devices as analogue sound sources for your car or home stereo system. However, when connecting your music to an acoustic system keep in mind that you need to use an amplifier to drive your speakers as even the best quality MP3 players are designed to drive headphones only. 

Q: What headphone/earphone types can I use with my MP3 player?

A: It really depends on the player output power, which usually is specified by the manufacturer. Though most of the modern earphones and headphones are easy to drive, the specified player output power may be higher than the actual one due to different factors. That is why we recommend judging the audio performance of a specific player with specific headphones only based on your personal listening.


Sources:

1. Donald Bell MP3 player buying guide, CNET July 2, 2013.

2. How to Choose an MP3 Player, wikiHow.

3. Wendy Sheehan Donnell How to Buy an MP3 Player, PCMag. August 8, 2013.

4. David Beren The 8 Best Budget MP3 Players to Buy in 2017, Lifewire. July 12, 2017.

5. The best MP3 players to buy in 2017Telegraph. June 23, 2017.

6. Tom Morgan How to buy the best MP3 player, Which?.

7. MP3 & MP4 Players (Portable Video Players) explained, Argos.

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Publish Date: 2017-08-10 14:45:27