I have a portable music player and it's not an iPod. Wierd eh? I walk around all day seeing people wearing identical earbuds and scrolling through their identical players. The playlists and case colors are different, but everyone is hooked up to big brother Jobs.
Not me. I laid out a whopping $60 about a year and a half ago for a no-name MP3 player with 512 megabytes of memory. It's not much I guess--only about 120 songs--but on my last 3-week trip I still only got through it all twice. When I got back, I switched out the songs, and I had a fresh mix to go. Meanwhile, the thing also functions as a jump drive, so I carried a few key documents with me as well. It doesn't have to be plugged into a USB port to recharge--it just uses a single AAA battery. I use rechargeables, but in a pinch you can always find a AAA battery for sale in even the most backwater market. In other words, you don't have to be tethered to a computer to keep the juice flowing. Simple, low-tech, and ready for any trip.
Also, I can download MP3s from anywhere and be good to go: I don't have to convert them into a proprietary format. The songs my wife downloads from iTunes for her iPod have to be burned to a CD first to become usable on anything else. I get scads of music from eMusic each month, so I'm always getting plenty of fresh tunes for a reasonable price. It's small too--about the size of a fat pack of gum.
There are drawbacks of course. Some of the cheapies don't have control over the playlists, so you basically get one long song list. But hey, consider it an iPod shuffle with a song display. For under $60 now--the price of about four CDs--you can't go wrong.
Do you like to discover interesting new music, but don't want to pay a buck a song for it? You can still be legal here:
25 FREE Downloads from eMusic. No Restrictions - Own Your Music!