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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.

You tech savvy lot may think PMPs are a dying breed, but funnily enough, the market's still going strong with a handful of products. There are certainly some benefits from using a dedicated media device alongside your phone: more battery juice, greater range of supported file formats, better audio quality, more form factors to choose from, etc. Perhaps our list of gift recommendations will be more convincing -- check it out after the break.

Stocking stuffers

Sony Walkman NWZ-E350

So, you live a simple life, and you just want a simple PMP to cater your basic entertainment needs. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but even Sony's entry-level E350 packs a couple of surprises: its SensMe feature can find the right music to suit your mood, and there's also a karaoke mode that suppresses the vocal track to let you sing the on-screen lyrics. Yes, Susan Boyle will be proud of you.

Key specs: 2-inch QVGA LCD, 4GB or 8GB, FM radio, WMV video playback, battery does 50 hours of music or 10 hours of video

Price: $70-$80

Another option...

Sony Walkman NWZ-W252 - $60

It may only hold 2GB worth of music and lack a screen, but this water-resistant Walkman will keep trotting while you sweat away your Christmas feast. The battery lasts for 11 hours as well, which is enough to kill the old "the battery's dead" excuse. Be warned, couch potatoes!

And another...

Creative Zen Style 300 - $50 / $60 /$80

Much like the E350, this Zen Style packs a lesser 1.8-inch LCD, FM radio, and limited video playback functionality. What's new here, though, is that this device can also serve as a dictaphone with its microphone and speaker -- great for students. Of course, the latter can also be used for annoying your fellow bus passengers.

Oh, you shouldn't have

Cowon J3

PMP enthusiasts will no doubt recommend Cowon for its top notch audio quality and award-winning designs. This J3 is no exception: it'll happily handle your MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, APE, and WAV audio files, and its stunning AMOLED capacitive touchscreen also goes well with your pictures and DivX, Xvid or WMV videos. Man, if only Cowon makes smartphones as well...

Key specs: 3.3-inch 480 x 272 AMOLED, capacitive touchscreen, built-in speaker, microSD expansion, Bluetooth, FM radio, battery does 64 hours of music or 11 hours of video

Price: $189 / $220 / $270

Another option...

If you don't mind resistive touchscreens, then this silver GoGear Muse should be plenty to keep you going with its 3.2-inch LCD and microSD expansion. You can also utilize the HDMI port to blow up your 720p MPEG4, WMV, H.264 or RMVB clips. As for audio, you can throw in Real Audio, FLAC, and OGG along with the usual suspects.

And another...

iPod nano - $149-$179

The iPod nano's size may do little justice for its prices, but there's always someone somewhere who don't mind paying the Apple tax, especially for this unique form factor. It's both portable and wearable with its clip on the back, and if you really want to, you can certainly wear it as an oversized watch -- you might enjoy it more than we did.

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

Cowon X7

Here's another option for audiophiles on the move. Cowon's X7 may have a low-res display, but like its cousin J3, it still plays well with a wide range of supported media formats: MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, APE and WAV for audio; and DivX, Xvid plus WMV for video. Oh, and this capacious bad boy will keep you entertained for days on one charge -- perfect for road trips.

Key specs: 4.3-inch 480 x 272 LCD, resistive touchscreen, 160GB hard drive, FM radio, Bluetooth, battery does 103 hours of music or 10 hours of video

Price: $320

Another option...

iPod touch - $229 - $399

It needs no introduction. Apple's super slim iOS PMP has finally caught up with its cellular cousin with its sharp Retina display, two cameras, and A4 chip. The possibilities are endless with the built-in App Store and iTunes, unless FaceTime is all that you need.

And another....

iriver K1 Smart HD - $235-$283

If you're a fan of the MKV format and don't mind imported gadgets, then here's your PMP. This stylish K1 supports 720p playback with Xvid, MPEG4 and WMV codecs, whereas for audio it covers MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG and many more.

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