Best iPod alternatives

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Apple chose an odd time to more-or-less bail from the portable music player market - the rise of high-res audio has made the PMP an essential audiophile accessory. And there are some fine iPod alternatives around, at some very agreeable prices. So whether you want to enjoy hi-res tunes on the go or just save your phone's battery life and storage space, there's something here to fit your needs.

Under £100

FiiO M3

Amazingly, this sub-£50 player is compatible with hi-res tunes. A must for anyone on a tight budget.

SPECIFICATIONS

Expandable memory | 24-bit/96kHz support | 2in display

Reasons to Buy
Small and lightweight
Expandable microSD storage
Detailed sound
Hi-res support
Reasons to Avoid
Small controls won’t be for everyone

Under £200

Cowon Plenue D

This realistically-priced portable music maestro sounds fantastic. You owe it to yourself to give it a listen.

SPECIFICATIONS

24-bit/192kHz support | Touchscreen | 128GB expandable memory

Reasons to Buy
Punchy bass
Insightful midrange
Well organised
Good tonal balance
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing of note at this price

Under £300

Astell & Kern AK Jr

With build quality and performance befitting the price tag, this is a straight-up portable pleasure.

SPECIFICATIONS

3.1in touchscreen | 24-bit/192kHz support | Expandable memory

Reasons to Buy
Tidy styling, fine build
Decent battery life
Proper volume levels
Balanced, brisk sound
Reasons to Avoid
Only affordable by A&K standards
That tactile frame is a little pointy

Under £500

Cowon Plenue R

Sounds spacious and detailed, and is built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

SPECIFICATIONS

128GB memory | 24-bit/192kHz stereo DAC | aptX Bluetooth

Reasons to Buy
Solid build quality
Good sense of space
Relatively detailed
Reasons to Avoid
Lack of streaming services
Not as dynamic as we’d like
Some software glitches

Under £750

Astell & Kern AK70 mkII

The mkII offers a sound that's open, dynamic and precise. As a consequence it's worth every penny.

SPECIFICATIONS

64GB storage | 150g | Tidal

Reasons to Buy
Brings sonic improvements over AK70
Class-leading transparency
Tidal access
Can perform DAC duties
Nice design
Reasons to Avoid
No MQA support

Under £1000

Astell & Kern Kann

Astell & Kern makes some of the best portable players around right now, and the Kann is the jewel in its crown. Enough said.

SPECIFICATIONS

32bit/384kHz playback | Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity | 64GB of expandable storage

Reasons to Buy
Good array of features
Superb detail
Strong, dynamic presentation
Punchy bass
Reasons to Avoid
Unique design might not be to everyone’s tastes