The best Android-based MP3 Player

Well I wrote about the Cowon X7 hard drive based MP3 player last time, but that is the player I bought for my wife. She has been very pleased with the Cowon X7 and a pair of Monster Turbine High-Performance In-Ear Speakers.

I also wanted to buy one MP3 player for me to listen at work too.

For me I wanted an MP3 player that produces high quality sound plus is Android based and has reasonably long battery life.

Why Android?

Well ever since my wife has an HTC Desire mobile/cell phone I found myself attracted to the Android devices. So I thought well let’s buy an Android device that also excels as an MP3 player. Being Android based means that I have access to thousands of apps for games and book reading as well as listening to music. So when my ears are tired of music I can read an e-book or play a game, or browse the Internet! So an Android MP3 player is a versatile device!

All Android devices (or any generic computing device for that matter) can play MP3 and other media so I need to pick one Android device from a brand that has a strong heritage in sound quality production.

Creative has the Zen Touch 2 and the ZiiO range. Cowon has one too in the Cowon D3.

Enter Archos

Archos have been a manufacturer of serious digital audio players and a pioneer/front runner of portable media players (PMP) for a while. On August 2010 they had just released their 8th generation ARCHOS 43 internet tablet (43it).

Archos 43 internet tablet running Poweramp app

From the web I was able to find out the details of these 3 android MP3 players and they are tabled below.

Comparison of Archos 43 internet tablet, Cowon D3 Plenue, Creative Zen Touch 2

Creative Zen Touch 2 Cowon D3 Plenue ARCHOS 43 internet tablet
Screen size 3.2″ 480×320 262k colour Resistive Touch 3.7″ 480 x 800 S-AMOLED, capacitive multi-touch 4.3″ 480×854 16 million colour resistive touch
Rated battery life 25 hours 21 h audio 36 h audio
OS version Android 2.2 Froyo Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread Android 2.2 Froyo
Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n IEEE 802.11 b/g 802.11 b/g/n
microSD slot yes yes yes
CPU/GPU ARMv7 Processor rev5 800 MHz / unknown GPU ARMv6 Telechips TCC8900 720 MHz / ARM Mali-200 ARMv7 Texas Instruments OMAP 3630 1GHz with DSP / PowerVR SGX530
Android Market/ Google Play No unless rooted Yes if rooted Yes with easy additional download

From the above comparison, it’s easy to see the winner.

Screen size/resolution winner

ARCHOS 43 internet tablet has the largest screen size for viewing pleasure. If you want to do any web browsing or game playing the larger the screen size the better. 4.3 inch is compact enough to carry in my pants’ pocket.

Note: Creative makes a 7″ ZiiO media player if anyone fancy a larger screen device but that’s getting into tablet terrain that is larger than my palm.

Drawback: The ARCHOS 43 internet tablet features a resistive touch screen instead of capacitive multi-touch. This means you generally use one finger to touch the screen instead of two. I find that using the finger nail works best on this screen. For music and playing solitaire-type Android games the touchscreen on the ARCHOS 43 internet tablet works great for me and is responsive.

Battery life winner

ARCHOS 43 internet tablet runs for 36 hours.

Android market compatibility

ARCHOS 43 internet tablet. By downloading and running a widely supported tool, Android Market is installed on the ARCHOS 43 internet tablet giving me access to tons of apps. This tool doesn’t root the ARCHOS so have no fear. The other two players require you to root the device which can be risky.

Android speed/power winner

ARCHOS 43 internet tablet features a CPU that runs at 1GHz and a PowerVR SGX530 GPU. Among the three, this CPU/GPU combination gives the highest speed and most powerful performance for running Android apps. Reckless Racing, one of the best Android game, runs extremely well on the ARCHOS 43 internet tablet with visually detailed, fast flowing and responsive 3d graphics and control. I digress here a bit here: this game appears very jerky on the HTC Desire A8181 which contains a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and a Qualcomm Adreno 200 GPU.

Sound quality winner

Cowon D3 Plenue. The ARCHOS 43 internet tablet is only slightly behind based on the specs and the Audio Analyzer test charts.

The Audio Analyzer charts above refer to the Archos 32 internet tablet. However I believe that the Archos 43 internet tablet has the same audio subsystem as its smaller brother Archos 32 internet tablet, also in the same eighth generation. Therefore the 43it should have identical sound quality and characteristics as the Archos 32.

So armed with the above information, plus at the time of my comparison the Cowon D3 was plagued with bugs and being slow and sluggish (which may now be resolved), I settled for the Archos 43 internet tablet.

Monster Turbine PRO High-Performance In-Ear SpeakersPoweramp screenshotsTo further improve the music listening experience on the Archos 43 internet tablet I added a Monster Turbine PRO High-Performance In-Ear Speakers (Copper) from Amazon plus I purchased the Poweramp music player app from Android Market.

I am very happy with this Android player. I bought it in March 2011. It plays excellent quality music; the Poweramp app gives me a great UI; and occasionally I read a bit of e-book and play a bit of games on this great little machine. It greatly helped introduce me to the Android world. Did I mention I love the Reckless Racing game by Polarbit?



Further reading

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