If you're more worried about the sound of your music than features, leave your iPod — or god forbid Zune — at home and hit the road with the HifiMan HM-700 Portable Music Player. Designed with maximum fidelity in find, it features a headphone jack with balanced connectors, which minimize interference and crosstalk while raising the maximum output — without adding distortion. It packs 32GB of storage, a battery good for 15 hours of play time, and an included set of RE-400 balanced in-ear monitors — so you can enjoy the benefits of the balanced connection even if you don't already own a set of balanced cans.
Your favorite e-reader just received an impressive update, in the form of Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite 2 ($120). While it still has everything you loved about the first Paperwhite — a glare-free display for easy reading in direct sunlight, eight weeks of battery life, built-in WiFi and free 3G, and Amazon's generous selection of books — the update gives readers an even better experience. Its new display features higher contrast, with whites so white and blacks so black it feels almost like reading a book, while a built-in light helps prevent eyestrain at night. A faster processor, more accurate touch response, Goodreads integration, and more make this a worthwhile purchase, especially if you're still flipping old-fashioned pages. Available this month.
Among the many casualties of the digital music revolution was the mixtape — although a custom CD could come close, it didn't carry the same "I worked on this for hours" weight as the venerable cassette. While it still won't carry quite the same weight, the MakerBot Mixtape ($25-$39) tries its hardest to revive some of that lost aura. Available in versions for those with MakerBots and those without, it offers 2GB of memory, the ability to playback MP3 files, a standard headphone jack, a four-hour battery life, an included USB cable for loading it up, and three buttons which offer a total of five functions: play/pause, skip forward, skip backward, equalizer, and reset. Although if it really wanted to be like a cassette, it would just play the songs in order, with an annoying "switching sides" sound in the middle of the playlist.
We're still not convinced that they're appropriate for use in public — or anywhere else, for that matter — but if you're unconcerned with appearances, these Epson Moverio Video Glasses ($TBA) should provide as good of a portable viewing experience as you'll find. Powered by Android 2.2, the Moverio offers 1GB of built-in memory, an included 4GB SD card which can be replaced by cards packing up to 32GB of storage, Wi-Fi, built-in Dolby Mobile 2 stereo earphones, transparent lenses for see-through viewing, QHD screens that are the equivalent of watching a 320-inch screen from 20 meters away, and support for side-by-side 3D content.
When is an iPod nano not an iPod nano? When it's made by another company. The Motorola Motoactv ($250-$300) is an Android-powered nano lookalike — complete with a watch-friendly form factor — featuring a 1.6-inch touchscreen display, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage for music, Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ wireless connectivity for connecting to existing fitness sensors and Android smartphones for call and text receiving, an FM radio, and GPS for keeping track of your training sessions. Basically, it's everything we wanted out of this year's iPod nano, but for Android. And what did Apple users get? Oh yeah — some new clocks.
Looking to ge the best possible sound out of your iPod, iPhone, or whatever it is you use for on-the-go audio? Before you plug it into your car or home stereo, run it though the JBL MS-2 Pocket Digital Processor ($200). This pint-sized processor uses DSP to optimize the sound for the acoustic characteristics or your speakers and listening area, improving clarity and stereo imaging. See (hear) it in action.
When we first saw the latest iPod shuffle, our immediate thought was "make it any smaller and you'll have to build it into the headphones somehow." We doubt anyone was listening, but that's pretty much exactly what has happened with the Sony Walkman W260 ($60-$80). Designed with active users in mind, the W260 is rinsable, wearable, and water-resistant, and offers features like quick charging, a black or white casing, and either 2GB or 4GB of storage.
Don't let your movie experience suffer because you're without your big screen and surround sound. With Vuzix Wrap 920 Video Eyewear ($250) you get the experience of a 67-inch screen, and with thier high resolution display and noise-isolating earphones, these glasses are ideal for any 2D or 3D movie on the go.
Sony might not have an iPod killer, but they do have something Apple doesn't: a water resistant MP3 player. The Sony W250 Waterproof Walkman ($60) is a pill-shaped player available in a 2GB capacity, and offering built-in 13.5mm EX in-ear headphones, MP3, WMA, and AAC playback, up to 11 hours of battery life, an included charging/docking stand, and water resistance to keep your music going at the gym, in the rain, or even in the shower, if you're the type that likes to wear headphones as you wash.
Using SurfaceSound technology, the new Tunebug Vibe ($65) lets you take a speaker with you basically anywhere you go. The Tunebug sports a stylish, triangular brushed metal body, an illuminated power button, and a standard 3.5mm input for compatibility with a wide range of audio sources, but the real magic is in the NXT-powered SurfaceSound Speaker, which turns nearly any surface — although hollow ones work best — into a makeshift speaker.
One of the problems with speakers is the fact that their size often forces you to leave them at home. Not so with the Kerchoonz K-Box Speaker ($75). At just 4.5" x 2.2" x 0.8", this diminutive speaker can be hooked up to practically any audio source, and uses patented gel-audio technology to turn any flat surface — like a table, wall, or box — into a full-on speaker with surprisingly good bass response. Sure, it's not going to replace a portable Hi-Fi, but for places that you don't want to take your normal portable system, it's better than nothing.
Need to add some serious storage to your portable media player or phone? Check out the AirStash ($TBA). This pocketable gadget lets you insert up to a 32GB SD card to use as storage, a USB plug for copying over content directly from your computer, and built-in Wi-Fi that allows user to access any supported media file directly through your device's browser, no cables — or apps — needed.