Mp3 Players and Other Multimedia Handhelds
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tie: Apple’s iPod 8-gig model and Samsung’s P2 (and up) models rank as the best in class and the easiest to open. Microsoft’s Zune, arguably as good a player as the aforementioned products, wastes cardboard, and uses too many natural and un-natural resources…in its packaging. And we almost broke the Zune 30-gig model because it was so tough to get out of its box.
Philips’ shrink-wrapped one gig model, also a really nice buy, was nevertheless a tough shrink-wrapped item….when it didn’t have to be. Archos’ multimedia handhelds are also terrific products, but the accompanying remote and other USB wires and cables are difficult to get out of the box and not clearly marked for installation.
Creative Labs’ Zen line of MP3 audio and video players were always very easy to get out of the box and into your ear or hands, but now they too are suffering from IPod-itis, that is, in trying to make a packaging statement, they’ve made something more difficult than it has to be.
Noise Canceling and Blue Tooth Headphones
While Bose, Sennheiser, Sony, Sure and Panasonic battle it out for supremacy in the high end of this category and JVC, Logitech, Philips and several others make a product almost as good for 50% less…there’s two things to watch out for:
1. The Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones include a blue tooth adapter which, in our focus groups, was usually hidden in the packaging and very easy to lose once you fought your way through the shrinkwrap.
2. The higher end models usually include a shell-like carrying case in which the headphone jack accessories are secured in the pocket of the case…but sometimes, depending on the retailer (big box-warehouse store vs. audiophile store), these accessories are packaged separately….and are also easy to misplace.
Whether you are buying a $10 audio plug or a $1,000 home entertainment system, it can’t hurt to sneak a peak at the packaging by nudging open the box at the store. Then again…
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Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.