After reading about hard-disk based players and learning about their problems with skipping I decided to focus on a flash memory based player. Another reason for focusing on a flash memory based player is the weight factor. Hard disk players are always heaver and would feel bulky in my pocket. Hopefully, the flash-based players also have a better battery life as they do not have any moving parts.
My research revealed that there are currently three top of the range flash-based players with over 4GB memory: iPod nano, Sandisk e200 series, Samsung YP Z5. Sandisk are the only company to have a 6GB flash player. The iPod is the thinnest player and then the other two are similar in size. The Sandisk is the thickest (slightly). While investigating the different features that each player offered, I realised that the features can be divided into hardware features and software. To me the extra software that the player comes with is irrelevant. I'm sure I will be able to find the necessary converters etc. So features that I've labelled as software are features offered by the player itself.
In terms of hardware features, all three come up with standard features expected from a portable music player. All three have colour screens; the screen of the ipod is smaller (1.5") compared to the others (1.8"). The ipod and samsung player both have very simillar features. The sandisk player has extras like an FM tuner and video playback. Ipod has a few neat extra software features like a calendar, contacts and games.
To me, battery life is paramount. In the end, I decided to go with the Sandisk player, because it had a battery rated 20 hours and was removable. I've heard so many horror stories about ipod batteries. I think most problems are because of its instant-on feature which keeps draining battery life by going into hibernation mode. The iPod can never be completely turned off, it always goes to hibernation mode. The Samsung player has a really good battery, but it doesn't have the extras such as radio and movie playback.
Now, only if I can buy a Sandisk sansa e260 or e270 in New Zealand!!