Smartphones and tablets grab all the attention these days. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that Apple's iPod sales still rake in millions year after year.
Portable media players like the iPod Touch will eventually die out, but there's still plenty of interest in the category, and money to be made by chasing after consumers who don't feel the iPod fits their needs.
As so it is that a product category we wrote off as a casualty of our national obsession with smartphones rises once more. The following list contains four Android-based portable media players that take aim directly at the Apple iPod Touch. Many promise bigger screens, GPS, and all of the geeky conveniences that Android is known for.
Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0
You know what's better than a 3.5-inch screen? How about a 5-inch screen?
Samsung's Galaxy Player 5.0 ($269) goes big with its screen, and includes extras such as microSD memory expansion, GPS, and a rear camera with a flash.
Along with a broad range of video format support (including DivX and Xvid), this is a great choice for Android fans who want their media and games as big as possible, without venturing into tablet territory.
Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0
No, we're not repeating ourselves. This is the Galaxy Player 4.0, the smaller, more phonelike sibling of the Galaxy Player 5.0. It offers most of the same features, comes in a more pocket-friendly size, and still boasts a screen larger than the iPod Touch's.
Priced at $229, it's still not going to sway potential buyers on the basis of price. On the upside, though, the Player 5.0 offers memory expansion, GPS, and great format support.
Sony Walkman Z
Sony's Walkman Z deals a double punch to the iPod Touch. Like the Galaxy Players, it features a larger screen (4.3 inches). Sony sweetens the deal, though, by including an impressive suite of audio enhancement settings, matched with a great pair of in-ear headphones.
Unfortunately, this $249 media player is missing many of the features we've come to associate with Android devices, including microSD memory expansion, front and rear cameras, and Micro-USB charging.
Philips GoGear Connect 3
This little guy is tough to recommend, but at least the $179 price comes in under the iPod Touch's.
Yes, the screen is small, dim, and plagued with a horrible viewing angle, but let's look on the bright side. The sound quality holds up well, audio and video format support is surprisingly broad, and the small size is very convenient.
So that's the lay of the land when it comes to the emerging market of Android-based media players (compare these products head-to-head). If you're looking for an alternative to the iPod Touch and a device like the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire just seems too big for your needs, then keep your eye on these guys. With some luck, and some drastic price cuts, these may just be worth picking up for those moments when you want to play some games without taxing your smartphone's battery.