My Portable Audio Player(s)

My collection of audio players
Above is a photo of my current collection of audio players. Why so many devices? It’s simple actually, I have not found one that is the ONE perfect device.  So here is my attempt to make sense of the digital chaos that I am dealing with. First, a roll call:

Pictured are (from top to bottom.)
iPod Shuffle
Rio Carbon–Creative Zen Micro
Audiovox 5600 — iPod

I must preface this by saying that yes, I use Windows at home..and yes, I use Windows Media Player 10 to manage my media…since that’s what my Media Center PC runs off of (basically.) That said, here are my comments about each one:
1) Shuffle-
Pros: Light, plugs into USB, TINY. More accessories then you can shake a shuffle at. Can read Audible books
Cons: You need the iTunes client to push music on/off of it. Can’t deal with WMA’s. No user interface (UI) No cross-fade of music.
2) Rio Carbon
Pros: Small, uses mini USB to charge. Works out of the box with Windows Media Player. Reads WMA’s. Can read Audible books
Cons: Does not work w/ iTunes (this could be a pro..depends what side of the fence you are one) Can’t understand newer subscription based services. Navigating is not intuitive. No cross-fade of music. VERY limited accessories(like 2.)
3)Creative Zen Micro
Pros:Works with newer subscription based services. Works with WMP (Windows Media Player) Reads WMA’s. Comes in many stylish colors (like my Xbox Live orange.) Fairly good quality voice recorder and FM tuner built in. Removable battery. Boots REAL quick (~3 seconds) Cool DJ function that will auto create a playlist for you (like “Album of the Day”, “Most Popular” etc.) Uses mini USB
Cons: The user interface is clumsy (’s an idea Creative…how about you put a friggen’ clock on the main screen, say up at the top line next to MENU, instead of burying in a menu item!) No cross fade. VERY limited accessories (maybe 1 or 2) Touch slide thingy (their answer to the iPod scroll wheel) is a little hard to navigate (yes.I know you can adjust the sensitivity.) You can’t use any of the touch controls to shut it need to use the mechanical switch on the top. Can’t read Audible books.
5) Audiovox SM5600
Pros: It’s a phone! Works with most subscription services. Works with Audible. Uses mini USB. Works with WMP. When you copy music over with also get the artwork (if available.)
Cons: Needs a mini-SD card to make it a worthwhile media device…currently they are pretty expensive. It’s primarily  a phone, so the audio controls are basic. No cross fade. Jogging with a phone could be either really useful or really geeky.
5) iPod
Pros: Nice user interface. Easy to use scroll wheel. A LOT of accessories. Works with Audible.
Cons: Relatively large. No cross fade. Mandatory to use iTunes to sync music. (Anapod Explorer is totally worth the money to replace iTunes though.) Non user-replaceable battery.

As you can see, there really is no perfect device. Of course, if the Audiovox phone had a nice little 5g drive in it….then that would be a step in the right direction. Of course if the iPod would natively read WMA’s or work with WMP (and not have to convert them to MP3’s before moving them to the iPod) then that would be a good thing as well . (side note: there must be a Windows Media plug in out there that will work with the iPod….come one someone….anyone.. ?)