Engadget's Holiday Gift Guide: PMPs

Welcome to the Engadget Holiday Gift Guide! The team here is well aware of the heartbreaking difficulties of the seasonal shopping experience, and we want to help you sort through the trash and come up with the treasures this year. Below is today's bevy of hand curated picks, and you can head back to the Gift Guide hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season.

So your music-loving grandma wants a PMP, huh? Fair enough -- we've put our heads together to come up with a list of the best we could find in several price ranges -- and we tried to come up with a few that are off the beaten (iPod) path, too. The choices out there sure are varied, but we've culled out the boring and the poorly designed to come up with what we think is the... most melody-friendly group on the planet. Read on for our full recommendations!


Stocking Stuffer

iPod shuffle - Got a friend who really, really hates buttons? Don't we all. Apple's got us covered in that category, and while it's not the cheapest of the tiny PMPs, the iPod shuffle comes in a range of glorious neons to satisfy your urge to color coordinate. You can snag up a 2GB model for $59 or really go for it and grab a 4GB for $79. You know -- if the person is that special.
from $59 - Buy from Apple

Sansa Clip+ - Now, the Sansa Clip has been around a long while, but it recently got a new lease on life with the addition of slotRadio. The microSD card-powered slotRadio Clip+ would make a great gift for someone whose tastes in music matches up with whatever's at the top of the Billboard charts -- and we do mean match up exactly. The ultra-cheap PMP comes in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB versions, and is available in red, black, or blue
from $39.99 - buy from SanDisk

iriver E30 - Probably the best looking cheap PMP around, iriver's E30 supports lossless FLAC formats, boasts a 1.8-inch color display and supposedly gets around 52 hours of juice off a single charge. It also boasts an FM radio, voice recording, and a photo viewer so you can show off your family album to people on the subway. You can grab it in 4GB and 8GB varieties.
from $59.99 - shop at Amazon

Oh, you shouldn't have

Sony E Series Walkman - Available in red or black, the E Series Walkman gets high marks for audio quality, boasts an FM Radio, one-touch recording, a 2-inch LCD, and gets about 30 hours of battery life for audio (and around 4 for video). It comes in both 8GB and 16GB flavors.
from $79.99 - buy from SonyStyle

Cowon iAudio 9 - If you're looking for something a little funky and alien but not tremendously expensive, you might want to turn your attention to the Cowon iAudio 9. The PMP comes in 8GB or 16GB varieties, and while it's not quite the fullscreen touch experience you might get from some of the big boys, the company puts a lot of emphasis on audio quality. The iAudio 9 plays MP3, FLAC, Ogg, WAV, APE, WME, XviD, and WMV files, and might be just the thing if you like stepping off the beaten path.
$129.99 and $169.99 - shop at Amazon

iPod nano 5G - While we're not huge fans of the quality of the video camera here, the fact that the new nano has one at all is kind of nifty. Besides that, you get a pretty solid iTunes-centric music experience here, replete with Genius options, picture and video viewing, and a wide selection of colors -- which should makes things easier if you happen to be buying these for a gaggle of kids. Models include an FM tuner as well, and 8GB and 16GB models abound in all the shades.
from $149 - shop at Apple

We can't afford the rent now, can we?

Zune HD - Probably the biggest development in the dedicated PMP market all year, the Zune HD is an easy hit for someone in your life who's a voracious music lover. The incredibly handsome hardware, Tegra guts, beautiful screen, and slick UI are all major points of interest, but the real hook here is that Zune Pass subscription service which lets you snag all you can eat for $14.95 a month (and take home 10 tracks every 30 days to keep). Oh, and don't forget: you can get one in magenta or purple now, too!
from $219 - Shop at Microsoft

iPod touch - The touch might seem like an obvious choice -- but there's a reason for that. Besides being a full-featured iPod, the player enjoys most of the benefits of an iPhone, like that massive selection of apps and huge capacitive touchscreen. This thing doesn't just stand in as a music player -- it's practically a mini-computer and game console. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who won't be showering you with affection if they find it under the tree -- just make sure they're not a die-hard Linux fan.
from $199 - buy from Apple

Sony X-Series Walkman - This is one PMP we still drool over a bit every time we catch a glimpse. Sony is well known for putting audio quality first, and the X-Series players are no exception. Besides that, it's easy to fall in love with its crisp OLED display, slick UI, and notably long battery life. The X-Series is our most expensive recommendation, but then... can you really afford not to buy it?
from $299 - buy from SonyStyle