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MP3 Mania

MINI

APPLE iPOD MINI (MAC + PC)
Hard Drive 4GB (1,000 songs)
Battery Life Eight hours; rechargeable
Size 3.6 x 2 x 0.5 inches; 3.6 ounces
File Formats AAC (Apple format), MP3, WAV, AIFF, Audible Audio
Bells + Whistles Text reader, calendar, address book
Best Features A third smaller than its big brother, and available in five colors
Worst Feature Overpriced, considering that a 20GB iPod costs only $50 more
Price $249 (800/692-7753; www.apple.com)

RIO NITRUS (PC)
Hard Drive 1.5GB (375 songs)
Battery Life 16 hours; rechargeable
Size 3 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches; 2 ounces
File Formats MP3, WMA
Bells + Whistles Stopwatch
Best Features Transfers files quickly and includes zippy software
Worst Feature Expensive for how little it can carry
Price $169 (866/286-3662; www.rioaudio.com)

SONY NW-HD1 NETWORK WALKMAN (PC)
Hard Drive 20GB (13,000 songs)
Battery Life 30 hours; rechargeable
Size 3.6 x 2.5 x 0.6 inches; 3.8 ounces
File Formats ATRAC (Sony format), MP3, WAV, WMA
Bells + Whistles Software creates playlists on the machine
Best Features ATRAC compression offers the most effective use of memory
Worst Feature If you originally bought your music on iTunes, you won't be able to convert it into Sony format
Price Under $400 (877/865-7669; www.sonystyle.com)

FULL-SIZED

APPLE iPOD (MAC + PC)
Hard Drive 20GB (5,000 songs), 40GB (10,000 songs)
Battery Life 12 hours; rechargeable
Size 2.4 x 4.1 x 0.57 inches; 5.6 ounces (40GB model is heavier and larger)
File Formats AAC (Apple format), MP3, WAV, AIFF, Audible Audio
Bells + Whistles Shuffle Songs option is on the main menu
Best Feature Apple's newest model replaces the control buttons with a click wheel
Worst Feature Available only in white
Price $299-$399 (800/692-7753; www.apple.com)

TOSHIBA GIGABEAT G21WiFi (PC)
Hard Drive 20GB (5,000 songs)
Battery Life 11 hours; rechargeable and replaceable
Size 3 x 3.5 x 0.45 inches; 5 ounces
File Formats MP3, WAV, WMA, SAT (Toshiba format)
Bells + Whistles Wi-Fi connectivity
Best Feature Downloads music from any computer on your wireless network
Worst Feature You may have to download songs to a CD and then rip them onto your computer
Price $599 (800/711-6277; www.dynamism.com)

CREATIVE LABS NOMAD JUKEBOX ZEN XTRA* (PC)
Hard Drive 60GB (16,000 songs)
Battery Life 14 hours; rechargeable and replaceable
Size 4.4 x 3 x 0.9 inches; 7.9 ounces
File Formats MP3, WAV, WMA, RAX (RealAudio), Audible Audio
Bells + Whistles User-replaceable battery
Best Feature More memory than any other player
Worst Feature Not as slim as the iPod
Price $370 (800/998-1000; www.creativelabs.com)
*Note: If you don't need 60GB, try Creative Labs' trim Zen Touch ($270): it holds 10,000 songs and has a 24-hour battery

T+L TIP Classical music fans, be warned: 10,000 songs means 10,000 "popular-length" songs (about four minutes each). Hour-long Mahler symphonies will require you to do some math.

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