Iomega's HipZip comes closer to the 'feel' of an original Walkman than any MP3 player I have yet seen on the market. I say this because it's quite bulky, solid to the touch, and relies on 40MB Clik! disks as its storage medium - they can be swapped out much like cassettes whenever they get played out. As the HipZip doesn't use solid state media (memory cards), like most other small MP3 players, it's potentially subject to missing a beat if the action gets too bumpy - although in my tests it didn't miss a beat or a piano roll, even during an intense jump rope session!
The HipZip's control layout is simple and intuitive: the playback controls are located on the front of the unit, and the menu and volume controls on the side. Its LCD screen provides a backlight for better visibility, and its large area offers plenty of useful information. A USB disk drive is provided so you can fill up the Clik! disks with MP3 or WMA music files by dragging and dropping - you can also use it to transfer regular data, such as large presentations, from PC to PC.
The unit ships with a transformer that plugs straight into it for charging the built-in Lithium Ion battery. In my tests, it gave a continuous portable playback time of more than 10 hours.
There are some drawbacks, though. The HipZip is unable to save user settings such as playing mode and the like, so every time you start up you will have to reconfigure it. I also found the headphone jack on the player provided a less than adequate connection, as I constantly had to fiddle with the plugs of numerous sets of headphones just to get both channels working. At $699 it isn't very affordable, even though it does ship with two Clik! disks.
Price: $699; Phone: (02) 9925 7799; URL: www.iomega.com.au