Moving onto the post as originally written (will update it... Eventually)
Many people have asked me for PMP (Portable Music Player) recommendations. Well, I'd like to think that starting off with a crappy Mitashi, working my way up to a Creative Neeon and now a Cowon D2, having listened using crappy bundled earphones, Sony, Grado, Sennheiser and Klipsch, I've got a fair idea of which PMP to pick up.
I also realise that requirements are different - a college student can't ask his dad for the money for a iPod Touch 32GB (most college students, anyway), nor will a frequent traveller want just 2 GB of music at a time. Below, based on a couple of years of scouring the player market, I've come up with five PMP recommendations for the five classes of music listeners I've been able to come up with.
(PS: I insist on using the term 'PMP' instead of 'MP3 player' because, well... JPEGs, AVI and FLAC are not MP3s, really)
1. I just want a player da!
Player: Transcend TSonic
eBay Price: 4 GB for INR 2099
Pros: Cheap, functional, FM. Perfect for the beginners
An alternative: Ivo Moserbaer 2GB for INR 1490 at Croma
2. I want good sound, but don't have enough money!
eBay Price: 2 GB for 3500
Croma Price: 4 GB for 5999
Pros: Good sound, nice screen, superb value for money
Cons: None I can think of, really!
3. I want good music, and a sexy screen. Money no limit.
Player: iPod Touch
eBay Price: 8 GB for 12000
Croma Price: 8 GB for 12400
Pros: Super sound, droolworthy screen, superb for video, photos and WiFi
Cons: Can't play FLAC, non-expandable memory, have to use iTunes (douche!)
4. I want superb sound, and the ability to play FLAC files. And expandable memory and the ability to tweak a lot!
Player: Cowon D2
eBay price: 8 GB for 8000
Croma price: 16 GB for 9999
Pros: Fantastic sound, incredible battery life, can tweak sound like crazy, useful stylus-stand, can play Flash games (!) and of course... Plays FLAC files!
Cons: UI might take a little while to get used to, not as sexy as the iPod touch.
5. I want to carry all my music with me! Player: iPod Classic
eBay price: 160 GB for 14000
Croma price: 160 GB for 15200
Pros: The storage space, period. And of course that nice wheel. And many accessories available.
Cons: No FLAC. A little heavy, too. And of course, iTunes.
Word of advice: Throw away the bundled earphones for whichever player you buy. And get a decent pair of Sennheisers / Philips / Sony if you're on a budget. Trust me, a Transcend with a 1000-buck pair of Sennheisers sounds WAY better than an iPod Touch with the bundled earphones.
My player: The Cowon D2. A fantastic player, it's never let me down. Everything from music to videos to recording to FM. I listen to it using the brilliant Grado SR80 at home, and Klipsch Image S4 while travelling. At home, I use the Altec Lansing MX5021. I use an 8GB Sandisk SD card, giving me a total capacity of 12 GB.
My dream player: the incredible Cowon S9, rated by many people as the best player on the market currently, costs around INR 12000. Update: I'll be buying this baby soon, for $260 from Amazon, USA.Headphone recommendations:
First recommendation: Get rid of the stock earphones that came with your player. I said it once, I'll say it again.
I'll keep this simple. Go to Croma's earphone section and pick up anything as long as it ain't crap. All Sennheisers are excellent bets (MX160 is excellent value for money at INR 470, the PX100 for 2400 is legendary and the HD201 for home use is superb value at 900 bucks. CX300 is one of the best in-ear headphones I've used, perfect for portable, it's at 2400).
If you want a little more, and have money, and have an uncle going to the US, get a Grado, but they're strictly for home use (I got my SR80s for USD 99.99). Other brands to consider: Klipsch (I love my S4s, came at a price though), Shure (if you have a legacy left behind or something). But pretty much anything over 1000 bucks is safe. If you want Bluetooth (like for the iPod Touch or Cowon S9), try Sony's DR-BT22 (bought them for a friend for INR 2400)
eBay vs Croma: Truth be told, it's really not too much of a difference. Like the Touch, for instance - I'd rather pick it up from Croma and have peace of mind than from some shady place in Lamington Road.
There you go, I hope this helps. And of course, share this list if you like it.