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Audiobook Players


Cassette Players

Portable audiocassette players, like the original Sony Walkman, remain a popular choice for audiobook listeners. recommends selecting a model that offers “bias control,” which automatically adjusts the tape head to match the position of the head that made the recording.

Quality matters when buying a player. Select a model that minimizes distortion—those annoying hissing sounds, deviations in tape speed and other anomalies. Look for a reference to “Dolby”—the laboratory whose technology helps reduce unwanted noise. offers a wide variety of portable audiocassette players. As of this writing, the top sellers are:

  • The Sony WM-EX190 Walkman Stereo Cassette Player is ideal for runners, featuring a slim design, Mega Bass® sound system, 24 hours of extended battery life, an anti-rolling mechanism, high-performance stereo headphones, an LED battery monitor and belt clip.
  • The Panasonic RQ-A220 Cassette Player/Recorder offers auto-reverse, a built-in condenser microphone, and 3x recording speed for maximizing tape duration. It has a built-in AM/FM tuner, integrated three-speaker playback system and Extra Bass System (XBS) to heighten bass when you wear headphones. It can run 24 hours on two AA batteries, with an LED indicator to monitor battery status. Stereo headphones, a hand strap and a user's manual are included.
  • The Sony WM-FX195 Walkman FM/AM Stereo Cassette Player with Auto Shut-Off offers all of Sony’s usual features (see No. 1), as well as an AM/FM radio. It also has AM wide band tuning, an FM local/distant (DX) switch and an automatic volume limiter system (AVLS).
  • The Sony WM-FS566 S2 Sports Walkman Digital Tuning Radio/TV/Weather Stereo Cassette Player is designed for durability. In addition to radio, its TV tuner allows you to listen to TV channels 2–13. It is water-resistant and has an anti-rolling mechanism that maintains stability even when jolted. It provides 35 hours of battery life, 40 station presets, Mega Bass® Sound System, auto-reverse and digital volume control. The player comes with an arm band for easy access.
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Compact Disc (CD) Players

Today’s portable CD players feature anti-skip protection. The technology still has its imperfections, however, and you’re likely to experience occasional skipping, especially if you run or engage in another activity that jolts the body.

Other benefits to portable CD players include track programming (the ability to skip to a section without having to rewind or fast-forward, as with a cassette) and automatic repeat play when a CD ends.

Currently, the top four portable CD players on are:

  • The Sony D-EJ100PS Psyc Walkman Portable CD Player (Color: White) offers great sound and multiple features in a bright white case. Less than 1” thick, this Walkman is easily carried in your pocket or purse. Playback options include 32-track programming, repeat (track, disc or program), random play and 50 hours of playback from two AA batteries. It also comes with a clip-on remote for easy operation when you’re on the move, as well as clip-on headphones.
  • The Sony D-EJ100PS Psyc Walkman Portable CD Player (Color: Black) ranks second. It has the same features as No. 1—just a different color.
  • The Panasonic SL-SV570 Pers CD , 45 Second features MP3 CD playback, extended battery life, a built-in FM/AM radio and high-powered anti-skip technology. An onboard digital synthesizer tuner stores 30 stations. No-skip technology prevents interruptions during active use. Two AA batteries allow 75 hours of MP3 playback and 33 hours with standard CDs.
  • TheiRiver SlimX iMP-550 CD / MP3 Player plays CDs and almost any digital file type. Only 1” thick, it has electronic shock protection to guard against interruptions, a car kit, a carrying case, two rechargeable batteries and an FM tuner.
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MP3 Players

MP3—the abbreviated term for “ MPEG-2 Layer 3 “—is a recording format that compresses data to about one-twelfth of its original size, creating smaller sound files and expanding your storage capabilities. It is the ideal file type for Internet downloads.

As of this writing, the top five MP3 players sold on are Apple iPods (around $200, depending on model). Now in their fourth generation, iPods can hold hours of sound (up to 40 GB), with a battery life of approximately 12 hours. Their tiny size (4” x 2½”) and weight (5 oz.) permit portability.

IPods can be used with both Windows and Mac operating systems, and Apple has recently made speed adjustments specifically designed to improve playback of spoken-word audiobooks.

Many models also feature games, a contact manager, a calendar and note reader.

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