Top Audio Players for Walkers

Options Beyond Your Smartphone

Is there anybody out there who needs an audio player other than their smartphone? The world has changed since days of yore. But there are times that your phone isn't what you want to take along. Here are the options, some of them more archaic.


The iPhone and other smartphones are the only device you need to bring walking. You can listen to music, podcasts, radio, send messages 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 we used to carry: maps, music player, camera, phone. The drawback is that a smartphone is fairly sizable. You have to think about how you'll carry it. With most smartphones, you can connect wirelessly to Bluetooth headphones.


The iPod nano 7th generation is an excellent video player as well as audio player. It has an FM radio and a built-in pedometer. It doesn't need a connector to link to the Nike+iPod pod sensor for those who want to track speed and distance. iTunes makes it easy to select podcasts, music, and video. It has Bluetooth 4.0 so you can connect wirelessly to bluetooth earphones.


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, podcasts and audiobooks, either in order or in a random shuffled order. The drawbacks are that you can't go wireless, it doesn't have Bluetooth. But with the small size and built-in clip, it's my choice for half marathon walks.


Before I switched to Apple products, I used to use an MP3 Player for audiobooks from and to load with tunes from my PC. Look for one designed for walking or jogging with a strap or clip holster. If you are an Apple-hater and you don't use your phone for music, you can find non-Apple MP3 players.


The Walkman is still going strong. Disadvantages: Old technology and tapes are getting harder to find or crumbling to dust. 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 are free to borrow from libraries.


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. CDs are becoming dinosaur technology. Advantages: Lower in price than MP3 or mini-CD players. Don't need a computer to download music to it. You can find used CDs cheap at rummage sales.


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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