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Top 7 Audio Players for Walkers

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Updated July 18, 2011

It's not just Walkman anymore. Audio players to entertain yourself when walking come in many sizes, capacities, and varieties. Smaller players include MP3 flash players and tiny FM radios. You can carry hours of tunes or audiobooks along, and customize your playlist. You can listen to standard CDs or transfer your favorite music to minidisc or MP3 flash memory or good old cassettes.

1. Apple iPhone

Walkmeter by Abvio - Map Screen
Wendy Bumgardner © 2011

The iPhone comes close to convergence as the only device you need to bring walking. You can listen to music, podcasts, radio and make phone calls. Apps provide maps, track your walking speed and distance, monitor your heart rate and more. You can take photos along the walk. It effectively eliminates the need for much of the stuff I used to carry: maps, music player, camera, phone. The drawback is that it is fairly sizable, although actually smaller than the Walkman cassette players or radios of yore.

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2. iPod nano

iPod nano Pedometer on Main Screen
Wendy Bumgardner © 2009

The iPod nano, as of the 4th generation is an excellent video player as well as audio player. The 5th generation added an FM radio and a built-in pedometer. Both work with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit for those who want to track speed and distance. iTunes makes it easy to select podcasts, music, and video.

3. iPod Shuffle

iPod Shuffle
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
iPod's ultra-portable player keeps evolving. But the concept is to keep it simple and lightweight and have it do just one thing -- play music, either in order or in a random shuffled order. As of the third generation version, you still can't use the Shuffle with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, and it doesn't have a built-in pedometer.

4. MP3 Flash Memory Player

I use an MP3 Player because I can download audiobooks from Audible.com or load it with tunes from my CDs, no need to carry discs or tapes. Look for one designed for walking or jogging with a strap or clip holster. Disadvantages: price, and you need a computer to download to it. Advantages: Small - about the size of a deck of cards. No skipping. Holds 2-3 audiobooks or hours of music.
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5. Audio Cassette Player

The Walkman is still going strong. Disadvantages: Old technology and tapes are getting harder to find. For longer walks, tapes are bulky. Not as small as an MP3 player. Poorer audio quality, especially if you record your own favorites. Advantages: Price. Can record from other media on inexpensive recorder - no need for a computer. Audiobooks on cassette free to borrow from libraries.
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6. CD Player

A standard portable CD player lets you use the same CDs in your home, car, and while out walking. Disadvantages: big - you may need to buy a hip pack designed to carry it. Problems with skipping in older/cheaper units. Advantages: Lower in price than MP3 or mini-CD players. Don't need a computer to download music to it.
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7. Radio

FM, or (less-common) AM/FM radios can be a feature of the other types of audio players, or you can buy a stand-alone radio. Disadvantages: Reception and finding a station you enjoy. Interruption by ads. Advantages: Cheap for stand-alone radio units, and is a flexible feature when combined with other audio players. News junkies stay connected. No need to download or carry discs or tapes.
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