CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Twitter!
Did you hear the news? Apple has officially. Which no doubt prompted many to gasp, “The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle were still a thing?”
Yep, they were — but were they a necessary thing? Apple obviously didn’t think so, hence the end of the product lines, but I’m sure there are folks who’d still like a small, simple MP3 player, something that’s easy to toss into a gym bag or lightweight enough to clip to a shirt. Oh, and maybe a little more affordable.
Guess what? Inexpensive iPod knockoffs have been floating around for years, so if you’re not hung up on branding, you can get the same functionality for less money.
So, today, as a Cheapskate homage to products that, let’s face it, we all loved once upon a time, I thought I’d steer you to a few iPod alternatives.
Do the Shuffle (or the Hustle, your call)
Apple’s most exercise-friendly MP3 player could clip to, well, anything and you’d barely know it was there. And it could play music for, like, 15 hours straight before needing a trip back to the charger.
Thankfully, there are other clip-on MP3 players. The Agptek G02, for example, has the same basic design as the Shuffle: controls in front, a spring-loaded clip at the rear. It has four times the storage (8GB) and offers a feature the Shuffle never got: FM radio.
Oh, and here’s the best part: Amazon carries the Agptek G02 for $19.99, a price that includes an admittedly dorky-looking silicone cover.
Granted, a player like this has its limitations. It doesn’t support playlists, for example, and you can’t listen to music while it’s charging. (I also wouldn’t expect much from the bundled earhook earphones.)
Prefer to stick with a name brand? Best Buy is currently selling the SanDisk Clip Sport for $36.99 — still well below the Shuffle, despite offering even more functionality.
Indeed, the Clip Sport features not only 8GB of storage, but also a microSD slot for adding more. It has an FM tuner as well, along with a 25-hour battery and a color LCD screen for much easier navigation of your music library (and, come to think of it, actual navigation of your music library).
There are other Shuffle-like players out there, of course, including a few that look a lot like the real deal. Search a bit and you’ll find them.
Nano-nano (Think: early-’80s sitcoms)
What’s the point of an MP3 player with a screen? Well, if you like watching teeny-tiny video, that’s the point. This was a big deal for a while — and then smartphones came along.
Still, a screen can be nice, whether for scanning your music library or just looking at album art. Hit up Amazon, Ebay and the like and you’ll find lots of iPod Nano lookalikes — most of them copying earlier generations of the product.
The challenge seems to be finding one that’s worth a damn. The vast majority of Nano clones I’m seeing on Amazon have either poor user ratings or high ratings with terrible Fakespot grades. (I found one with 87 reviews, and Fakespot deemed 100 percent of them to be “low quality.” You gotta admire that level of commitment to fakery.)
What’s more, some of the super-cheap Nano-alikes appear to play video, at least based on accompanying product photos, but don’t actually support MP4 or other video files. Make sure to read the full specs before buying.
My advice: If you want an MP3 player that can also play videos (or, I guess, vice-versa), don’t necessarily look for an iPod clone. Instead, search for “MP4 player” or something in that vein. I found this Tensun MP3/MP4 player for $30; it has decent (and legit) reviews, great battery life, a voice recorder and even a pedometer.
Okay, so what are your thoughts on all this? Will you miss the Nano and/or Shuffle? Or do all your other devices meet your music needs just fine, thank you?
Bonus deal: I like to travel as light as possible, but typically I need to bring at least two charging cords: one for Lightning devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.), one for Micro-USB stuff (mobile chargers and Bluetooth headphones, for example).
Messy! That’s why I’m kind of excited about the Zeus Dual Charger, which looks like a fairly typical 6-foot braided cable but pulls off something I’ve never seen before: Lightning and Micro-USB on the same plug!
It lists for $24.99 and currently sells for $19.99, but Cheapskate readers can get a Zeus cable for $14.99 with promo code Cheapskate25. Shipping adds $2.77.
I honestly didn’t think it was possible to fuse these two kinds of connectors, but I tried a Zeus and, to my surprise, it works. That means one less cable to bring along — yay! Granted, if you need to charge two devices simultaneously, you’ll still need two cables. I just like the idea of this so much, and I think $15 is a reasonable price for a two-fer cable.