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Dorian Gray
Veteran Member
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Paris, France
2008-12-08, 14:21

I'm looking for a portable Digital Audio Player (DAP) to replace my long-serving iPod shuffle. It still looks great and sounds as good as ever, but in the last couple of months the battery life has fallen off a cliff (I'm amazed it lasted almost four years). I'd also like a lot more capacity than 512 MB. I hate throwing it out*, but I can't upgrade the storage and I can't replace the battery. It's a perfectly good bit of electronics that will soon be useless.

I loved my iPod shuffle and I love iPods in general. But they're disposable and I hate that about them.

What I'd really like in my next DAP is, in no particular order:
  • Superb build quality and materials (metal, glass, etc.). The current iPod nano is actually amazingly well made (on the outside at least; the inside is probably very cheaply made). Would aim for a useful life of ten years in daily use.
  • First-class audio quality. Some iPods have this, although perhaps none are the absolute best in class. Ability to pump out high voltages (for high-impedance headphones) and high currents (for low-impedance headphones).
  • USB mass storage device class support. Not because I like it (iTunes is far better), but because this makes it future-proof. I'd even put up with real-time recording via digital optical-in, but I know few would tolerate that (and this would only really work with lossless codecs due to limited onboard processing power).
  • Powered by AA or AAA cells (one might be enough) to make it future-proof, at the expense of weight, volume and perhaps battery life.
  • Analogue line-out, perhaps via the 3.5-mm headphone port like the old Sony MiniDisc recorders/players.
  • Digital optical-out. Useful for connecting to hi-fi gear at home. Optical-out could be via the headphone port, as in current Macs.
  • Relies entirely on Secure Digital or CompactFlash memory cards for storage. These are fairly small (especially SD), cheap, ubiquitous, and available in any variety of size, quality, and speed. CompactFlash cards are hitting 100 GB already, and with time capacity will only grow and prices come down. You could bring two and swap them out if you need even more capacity.
  • Support for AIFF/WAV (future-proof), FLAC (open-source), AAC (probably the best lossy codec), and MP3 (ubiquitous) codecs.
  • Small LED-backlit LCD or OLED screen. My dream DAP would have no video support or anything equally silly, so would have no need for a large, vulnerable, power-sucking display.
  • Under $500. I don't see why the above couldn't be done for $200, but if it must be $500 so be it.

Why does nothing even remotely close to this exist? Obviously an iPod-like DAP will always be much more popular than the above, but surely there's a substantial market for something like this too?

* Or more accurately, recycling it or abandoning it in a drawer.

… engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams.