Browsing my local Target store I noticed this little clip-on player from Memorex. At $39.99 for 2gb capacity, it's half the price and half the capacity of the new iPod Shuffle. You can store up to 500 songs on it, and it also includes an FM radio with 20 presets. The controls are all on the front face, along with a 2-line OLED monochrome display. USB and headphone jacks are on the top edge. A small reset hole is on the left side.
Mine came with enough charge to test the FM radio, although I'll need to figure out how to add presets to it since that was not explained in the skimpy documentation it came with. There is a PDF with more information but it does not show any way to reset the FM presets or delete one (or more).
MP3s play fine, and when playing the track, title, and artist info is displayed or scrolls across the screen. The Memorex also will play WMA and WMA-DRM but I didn't have either to test on it. Within it's settings options you can find five equalizer presets including XBass, Pop, Jazz, Classical, Rock, and a Normal (non-equalized) setting. You can set it to repeat one or repeat all song in a playlist. The upper menu level lets you pick from Now Playing, Play All, Shuffle All, FM Radio, Playlist, Artist, Album, and Genre. The package includes a standard USB cable, inexpensive earbuds, an installation mini-CD (not needed with Vista), Quick Start guide, and a 90-day warranty sheet. The included earbuds work, but are short on bass, and offer minimal comfort to your ears. I strongly suggest upgrading headphones to truly appreciate any music you might put on this player.
This Memorex has a decent amp, with volume scaling from 0 to 30. I found putting it on 15 was plenty to drive my large Sennheiser HD-595 headphones.
Out of the box, with version 11.0 firmware, this little clip-on player performs as advertised. The XBass EQ preset produced the best results (to my ears) when using large over-ear headphones that reproduce bass better than the stock earbuds. Build quality is "cheap". I worry the spring tension from the clip on the back might lead to cracks or separation of the case over time.
Is it better than an iPod Shuffle? I certainly prefer controls on the player face rather than on the cable. You get several ways to sort your music. FM radio is a nice convenience that Apple apparently doesn't believe in. It won't win any aesthetic design awards, but with function taking precedence over form it appeals more to my design sense than the new iPod Shuffle. Is it the best value out there? If you can find the 4gb Sansa Clip (my review) on sale for $50 or less, then get it instead. You'll get voice and FM recording plus an additional 2gb of storage space for that extra $10. If you've got a Target 10% discount card to bring the price down a little, or can find it on sale for $5 or $10 off, then it's not a bad investment.