I'm a long distance runner who lives in Florida. Can you say humidity?! Ran a marathon this past December and average 30 miles per week. I treat my MP3 players as gently as I can considering the circumstances. Any player I use has or is going to suffer from heat, extreme humidity, some sweat (not much since I wear them on my upper arm), some rain (not much since I wrap it in a baggie by peircing through the baggie with the headphone plug when it looks like rain or drizzles).
A long distance runner's MP3 player has to:
- Be light and sturdy (which doesn't always mean the smallest)
- Use flash memory not a hard-drive (A hard drive has moving parts which is not ideal while you're jumping/running/jogging)
- Fit comfortably on the arm (You don't want the player on your belt or below the navel cause water and sweat run down the headphone wire into/onto the player. You don't want the player to be triangle shaped or round - you'll want something flat against your arm so it don't wiggle or require that you make the strap to tight.)
- Easy to use (Don't want to have to look at it to work it)
- Last at least 4 hours on a battery for those marathon training runs
- Have As much storage as possible (If you're going to run with it upwards of 6 hours per week you don't want to hear the same music over and over)
- Use rechargable batteries (I like the ease of putting a fresh battery in with each run so I don't have to guess whether there's enough juice for the amount of time I need it.
- Don't worry about how good the headphones are cause you're going to get them soaked with ear sweat (sorry bout that ;-) and replace them fairly often. I buy the cheap ones ($5 in CVS - test them before you leave some cheapies aren't loud enough) that are loud - they fit over and around the ear. The ones that fit IN the ear are going to be swimming in ear juice and won't last ;0(
I've had 2-Irivers, Ipod, 2-MPIOs and my latest is a Memorex. I was buying a new one every 6 months while I learned what not to do so they'd last. Iriver was the worst - triangle shaped, poor arm band and didn't last long at all the other Iriver was flatter but didn't last long either, IPOD has a hard drive and couldn't take the pounding and MPIO was cheap but lasted just as long as the Iriver and Ipod.
I just got to the point where I would by the cheapest one that fit my needs since I was sure they weren't going to last anyway - until I bought the Memorex MMP8500 for $79 on sale at Target. It was bigger than the others, square and flat but just as light and it came with a decent armband. Another thing - most players have a cover that you slip the armband into - this has that AND a sleeve for the armband on the player itself. This is important because the darn MP3 player jackets they give you don't last long so its nice when you still can wear it on your arm without the cover. It came with 128mb and I bought a 512 mb SD card for it also on sale for I think $40. Uses one AAA battery and I get about 4.5-5 hours play time per battery. Most say they get 6-8 hours per battery on the box and you only get 3-4 hours per battery regardless. I have about 8 hours of music on it using WMA at about 64Kbs. There is no proprietary software, no radio, no recorder, just a basic player and without any updates it is recognized as a USB drive with two drives in it in XP. I haven't been able to dent this thing - its been over a year and it shows no signs of deterioration past the fact that the plastic cover/sleeve/holder the armband slides into disintegrated - but I still have the armband sleeve that's on the player so no foul.
Don't get me wrong - I'm pretty sure that the other players are decent and most are smaller and look cooler than the Memorex and have more features. But they just can't take the beating the way this Memorex has. Hey, who knows, maybe the one I have now is just an aberration. Aw hell, I just jinxed it didn't I ;-)??!!