Smaller still, these players run from 64 MB (megabytes) of memory for an hour's worth of listening pleasure, up to 1 GB and store up to 250 songs. Some have a media card slot that allows you to add more memory. Flash memory players are the lightest and are great for those who want to listen while moving about, jogging, exercising, etc. as they have no moving parts and can slip in a warm up jacket pocket with ease.
Apple has introduced the iPod Shuffle (512 or 1 GB storage via USB flash drive) to compete in the flash memory MP3 market. Costing $99 and $129 respectively, it is a thin 1/3 of an inch, barely an inch wide and just over 3 inches tall, and can run for 12 hours on a single charge. It has the Apple integrated battery, so count on sending the player in for battery replacement over the life of the unit. It is a stripped down model, coming only with earbuds, manual and free software. The docking station, etc. are all extra and there is no LCD display, equalizer settings, recorder or FM tuner. Simplicity is the hallmark but other flash players on the market offer more for less.
In this category iRiver has been around for awhile and offers a feature primed iFP-790 (and a number of other 700 models with up to 1 GB storage and varying features). It is so light at 2.1 ounces you may forget its in your pocket and throw it in the wash...not recommended. The battery is tested at a whopping 40 hours and is replaceable. Costs range from $150 to $250, depending on storage.
Rio's Forge Sport starting at $125 for a 128 MB model to $200 for the 512, is designed to accept extra memory in the form of a MultiMedia or Secure Digital memory card. The drag and drop option is a plus and the replaceable battery tested at almost 20 hours but its USB 2.0 interface only transferred at less than 1 MB per second. It has a snazzy design and a one inch LCD for easy viewing. The extras include FM radio (although for earlier versions reception was poor), recording, and a clock, but you won't be able to see a track listing, nor edit a playlist.
Creative's MuVo line of flash players range from 256 to 512 MB of storage and include FM radio and a built in microphone. Weighing in at 1.6 ounces, these players are teeny and sell anywhere from $90 to $138. There is a small LCD screen large enough to see full track information, custom settings, has folder navigation with a rocker button and supports drag and drop transfer. It lacks the style and pizzazz of the iPod Shuffle but is a great buy for a flash MP3 player. Its USB 2.0 file transfer rate topped 1.6 MB per second.