Music can be a powerful emotional and psychological trigger for many people. Heck, it even has a physical effect on people--anyone who can't help but tap her feet and nod her head when listening to an infectious beat can attest to that. For precisely these reasons, many die-hard music fans will spend hours on end creating the perfect playlists for lounging, working out, commuting, and generally affecting mood and motion. Unfortunately, many of the rest of us don't have the time--or desire--to create all the specifically tailored playlists we could ever want. So what's a casual listener to do?
Luckily, many device manufacturers have gotten hip to the fact that there's a significant number of music fans who want reasonably personal track lineups presented to them without all the time and hassle. Several MP3 players released in recent times offer various smart DJ functions that go beyond ID3 tag recognition and individual user play count. All of the options below feature music recommendation functions that can be utilized completely on-the-fly, without connecting to a computer. Apple iPod Nano
: The Nano's new Genius feature lets you create an instant 25-song playlists around the musical characteristics of a single song (based on data gathered from iTunes). The Genius feature is easy to use, and the results are fun, provided your music collection holds enough songs to make interesting connections. You can save Genius playlists directly onto your Nano, and with automatic syncing enabled in iTunes you can also transfer them back to your computer. Cost: free/included with the player. Sony S-Series Walkman
: The S-Series offers a feature called SensMe Channels, which is a "smart" DJ that uses an algorithm to analyze songs in order to create custom playlists based on each track's speed, mood, and rhythm. The Channels range from Morning to Lounge to Extreme and can be accessed under a dedicated icon on the Walkman's main menu. If the Channels are not to your liking, you can reanalyze your library to create new mixes. Cost: free/included with the player.… Read more