The Samsung YP-T10 is the only one of the bunch that I haven't personally played with. It's the little brother of the Samsung P2, yet has most of it's features and a few tricks of its own. Generally available for around $100, this 4gb player features Bluetooth 2.0 for use with wireless headphones, file transfer, and potential* pairing with your Bluetooth enabled cell phone. The built-in microphone allows voice recording, and for two friendly siblings this means easy sending of recorded messages to each other via Bluetooth. The kids can even be in separate rooms, so long as they are within about 30ft of each other. The FM radio included allows recording of songs heard playing on your favorite local channels. Should one child capture a great song he/she thinks the other should know about, it can be sent wirelessly to the other T10 using Bluetooth again. The T10 comes in at least three colors.
The Samsung P2 is my personal favorite. It's a touchscreen player with a 3" 480 x 272 pixel widescreen. Available now at BestBuy for $179.99, it is exceptional for video playback. Large enough to make reading text files easy. Both the P2 and the T10 feature Samsung's DNSe 2.0 audio enhancement feature for optimizing the sound of music you're listening to through headphones. The P2 has a touchscreen interface which is user customizable. Clever use of touch, tap, double taps, arcs, and swipes on the screen allow very efficient access to all your media. It's Bluetooth allows simultaneous listening with two bluetooth headsets at once. You can pair the P2 with your bluetooth capable cell phone and use the P2 to receive or initiate phone calls. Transfer your cell phone's contact list to the P2 using bluetooth. Transfer any file on the P2 between it and your computer (assuming it has bluetooth), any other P2 or a T10. I use my P2 as a wireless headset for Skype phone calls on my iMac. The P2 includes 5 games, and two of them can be played one-to-one with another P2 or eventually* the T10 using bluetooth! Your children can be in separate rooms, or front and back seats of your crossover, so long as they are within 30 feet playing games against each other on their P2s. The P2 comes in Black, White, and a Burgundy Red.
Last there is Microsoft's Zune. You can get an 8gb model for $149.99, a 16gb model for $199.99, and a 120gb (larger) model for $249.99. All feature WiFi wireless networking. What I love about the Zune is the ability to "squirt" files wirelessly using wifi to other Zunes. Kids can send photos or music files to each other. The music files can be played on the other Zune for three days before they will self-delete. The Zune's wifi can also be used to synchronise media files on your PC with itself. You can access the online Zune marketplace for music purchase from the Zune, and download songs you purchase directly to the Zune. If the built-in FM radio plays a song you would like to own, you can mark it for subsequent purchase using info (RDS) the radio station has broadcast along with the song.
All three players can play MP3 music files purchased or made from your own CDs. For kids just starting a music collection, all players work with subscription music services so an unlimited number of songs can be downloaded for a flat fee per month. The Samsungs work with Rhapsody, and Zunes work directly with the Zune Marketplace. It is not required to subscribe to these services, but they are a great legal way for kids to grow their personal music collections. Both brands have great PC-Based software to organize your media collection. You can download and try them out for free at:
Yes, your kids may have asked for iPods. While the iPods come in a rainbow of colors, and are seen being worn by 70%+ of the U.S. population, they are NOT the best sounding or most feature packed players out there. iTunes does not offer a subscription model for buying music. No iPod has an FM radio, which in addition to music would give your kids access to local news, weather, and event reports. No kid can follow the local radio broadcast of the high school football game on their iPod.
IF you've got more than one child, and you treat them equally at Christmas and other gift-giving times, then you owe them the smartest MP3 players out there. With a Samsung T10 or P2, or the Microsoft Zune, they will be unique among their friends and the envy of all of them.
* The Samsung T10 is expecting a firmware update to enable gameplay between devices as well as "maybe" cell phone pairing with it's Bluetooth feature.