WHAT TO LOOK FOR
You’ll need top-notch sound to help you drown out that ragged breathing and ambient noise while you work up a sweat.
It’s no good flexing your muscles if your chosen MP3 player cuts out mid-song. Batteries will need to go the distance.
Storage space is limited while working out, so each device needs to be as small and light as possible.
Whether you’re running or riding, choosing tunes should be easy and not require you to ease off.
Nu dolphin rider
This 4GB MP3 player sits in a speaker case that you can attach to your handlebars. You can use earphones with it, but it’s primarily a speaker to make listening to music while riding safer. However, the controls sit at the bottom of the device and are small and fiddly enough to cause you to wobble about while skipping between tracks. You can only squeeze just over five hours of sounds from it before it needs juicing up, which is a poor return, and sound quality from the speaker is only average. But it is waterproof – handy for when it rains.
Cowon iAudio E2
The Cowon iAudio E2 is perfect for gym bunnies on a budget. Its 2GB of storage is more than enough for workout playlists and the BBE+ sound-boosting tech gives your tunes a warmer, bassier feel. Best of all, it’s got enough oomph to cut out the gym’s own music as well as the background noise generated by all the running and rowing machines (not to mention the weightlifters’grunts). It’s tiny, so slips easily into a pocket without you noticing and 11 hours of battery is ideal for a week’s worth of gym sessions.
Sony Walkman W2O2
A great all-rounder, this Walkman slips round the back of your head and houses the music storage unit in the earpiece. Despite its bizarre looks, it fits comfortably over your lugholes and has a jog wheel on the right-hand ear bud to control volume and select tunes. Sound quality is top notch and the headphones almost completely cut out background din. With everything contained in the earphones, there’s no main unit to weigh your pockets down and 12 hours of battery life is ample for all but Ironman competitors.
Speedo (LZR) Aquabeat
Slip the Speedo (LZR) Aquabeat onto the strap of your goggles and you can drown out the noise of screaming kids while you do laps of the local pool. It’s a somewhat chunky beast, with 2GB for storing around 500 songs. The over-the-ear headphones aren’t a particularly comfortable fit and sound quality is a tad ragged when listening to heavier tracks. Controls are awkward when you have the MP3 player sat around the back of your bonce, but at nine hours, the battery will cope with everything short of a Channel crossing.
Price: Nike+ iPod sports kit £19 (iPod nano £118)
The Nike+ sports kit includes two sensors, one that plugs into an iPhone, iPod nano or Touch (sold separately), and another you attach to your trainers. You can then use the iPod to set playlists for workouts based on how far you’re running or the amount of calories you want to burn. Sound is good, although Apple’s bundled headphones are poor. Plus you’ll need to invest in either a dedicated pair of Nike+ trainers to store the sensor or buy a pouch to attach it to your laces. At 24 hours, battery life is long.
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