Brandon began working online five years ago when he left his old and boring Finance job. He now works at home with his wife and five kids.
My wife and I are parents that make our kids do chores. We use MP3 players as a way to incentivize them to do it.
While we have various speakers around the house, it drives me crazy when there are multiple songs going on at the same time. That's why I load their favorite songs on a portable MP3 player for them to listen to while they clean.
Having broken, lost, or accidentally washed a plethora of MP3 players, we've tried quite a few of them. Here's a look at a few of our favorites.
Review of the Sandisk MP3 Player
One of the most popular MP3 players you'll come across is the Sandisk MP3 player. It's available in a standard .96" LCD screen and a 1.44" LCD screen with and without Bluetooth. For capacity, you can also order it in 4GB to 16GB sizes. That's quite a lot of music.
I've owned the Bluetooth and standard versions for a while, so here is my perspective on each.
First of all, the Sandisk MP3 player is not for everyone. It's rather small for little kids, which I've found to not typically be a good thing. For my 12-year-old, it's perfect. The 8GB .96" LCD version is $30, has a rich sound quality built-in, and an 18-hour battery life. It's also available in black, orange, and green colors. For him, I got the orange so it's easier to find if he misplaces it.
You can get the larger LCD screen here as well, but you pay around $15 more for slightly better navigation. The 1.44" LCD screen version also offers a memory slot card and works with microSDHC cards up to 32GB. This is great for additional music and audiobooks. For me, that wasn't worth it; however, if your child listens to a lot of audiobooks, I could definitely see why you'd want to go in that direction.
More About the Sandisk MP3 Player
- Game Options: Out of all the MP3 players I reviewed, the Sandisk options have the most intuitive menu and most professional setup. Other options on this list are similar in price.
- Earbuds: Most of the MP3 players out there come with a pair of cheap earbuds. This one did. That being said, most of them are terrible. That includes Sandisk's option, which is too big and uncomfortable for my ears.
- Product Specs: It has a 4GB to 16GB capacity. It has a .96 to 1.44" LCD screen. Bluetooth is optional on the 1.44" Model. MicroSDHC is also optional on the 1.44" model. It has fantastic audio quality for the price. It comes in various colors. Its battery lasts up to 18 hours (24 for 1.44" Model). Its clip is convenient and keeps it in place.
Review of the Hotechs MP3 player
If you're looking for a cheap and high-quality MP3 or MP4 player, check out the Hotechs 16GB option.
For just $20, it's affordable, comes in 13 different styles, has 16GB of storage, and gives you fairly good audio quality. It's a bit larger than the SanDisk .96" LCD model, comes out of the gate with 16GB (micro SD supports up to 64GB more and can play AMV and AVI video formats.
This MP3 player includes a standard charger and braided earbuds. Don't expect it to replace your iPod. That being said, for $20, it's a great option for young kids.
More About the Hotechs MP3 player
- Audio Quality: The difference in audio quality between this MP3 player and others on this list mostly has to do with the earbuds or headphones you're using. All of them were better than I expected.
- Menu: The menu for this MP3 player isn't super intuitive. That being said, once I got the hang of it, it was no big deal.
- Earbuds: The Hotechs MP3 player is cheap and has earbuds that actually fit my kid's ears. So, for $20, it's a pretty good deal.
- Cost: Considering you'd pay $10 for a decent pair of earbuds, this option is about $20 cheaper than the rest of the competition, has plenty of colors, and decent quality. It's a good cheap option for kids.
Review of the Apple iPod Touch
There are a lot of options you could go with here. The latest generation of the iPod Touch is the iPod Touch 7. It's available in 32GB models for $200, 128GB models for $300, and 256GB models for $400 on Apple's website.
If you go this route, you're getting more than simply an MP3 player here. You're getting a device that can be set up to text, watch videos, and play games from the App store.
This is a great solution for parents looking for an option that allows their children to text but don't want to pay for a phone plan as of yet.
More About the Apple iPod Touch
- Alternatives: An alternative to the 7th generation would be to take a look at previous generations of the iPod Touch, available used on Amazon. They are not quite as modern or sleek but carry many of the same features.
- Qualities: Overall, this is a great option used or new if you're willing to spend the money. The audio quality is better than any of the options above and you get many more features as well. That said, you'll have to decide on whether or not it's worth the extra cash.
Review of the Sony NWE394/R Walkman
If you're willing to spend around $60, then you'll want to go with the Sony Walkman. It allows for up to 35 hours of music playback and 4 hours of video.
The device itself feels solid, and it supports a number of formats, including MP3, WMA, AAC-LC, and L-PCM. While I like this device overall, the earbuds are just ok.
The earbuds are not the best in the world, but you can easily replace them with a decent model that costs around $10, like Panasonic's RPHJE120k, or you can spend about twice as much for something nicer, like MEElectronics' Sport-Fi M6 in-ear headphones.
More About the Sony NWE394/R Walkman
- Capacity: The Walkman is available in capacities of 4-16GB, with the 4GB costing as little as $55 and the 16GB costing around $90.
- Usability: For the money, you won't find a better MP3 player under $100. The Walkman is easy-to-use and big enough that it won't easily get lost.
MP3 Players Under $25
Every kid is different. So, look for something that matches your child's needs and personality.
I still like the SanDisk MP3 player as a name-brand quality option for tweens. The iPod Touch is a great option for those transitioning to a phone. And something like the Hotech MP3 player is a good option for younger kids.
In the under $25 category, you might be surprised at just how many options are available. Knock-off options from China, as well as inexpensive options from Ravo, are popular, but there's one model that really sticks out above the rest.
Great Speakers for Kids!
In searching for an inexpensive MP3 player, I wanted to get a portable speaker that would work through the audio jack so they could listen to it together in their rooms and move it around the house for when we all want to join in.
There's a number of speakers out there that are portable and sound great, but if you don't know what you're looking for, you might end up paying for features that you simply don't need.
Review of the Anker SoundCore Speaker
I've reviewed a few Anker products in the past and continue to be impressed by how the company's quality improves. The Anker SoundCore is one of my favorite products right now.
It's a Bluetooth speaker that costs around $36 and has as good of sound quality as you'd find in much more expensive models.
More About the Anker SoundCore Speaker
- Playback: For playback, it lasts around 24 hours. So, it's certainly something you can leave on all day and not worry about.
- Durability: It's durable as well, so it's perfect for kids. Overall, it's great for any device that has Bluetooth connectivity.
- Cheaper Devices: For the cheaper devices I've listed above, you can use the auxiliary port to connect directly to the MP3 player.
Overall, finding a cheap MP3 player that is both durable and easy to use is not that difficult. And, if you have little kids, it's a good idea to get one. If you've found a model that you prefer, or have a question about one of the models I've mentioned above, then please let others know in the comment section below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Brandon Hart
Yvonne on November 21, 2019:
Really helpful article but one thing I really want for my 7 year old daughter is for her to be able to play kids podcasts. Do you know if any of these devices play podcasts and if so how (I’m not very tech savvy!)
Amy on January 29, 2019:
I live in Port Elizabeth. Where can I buy a MP3 i-pod
Valerie Milo on June 10, 2018:
This was great! Thank you.
hailey on January 25, 2018:
this is exactly what i need were can i get one
RDO on December 16, 2017:
Excellent article mate! This is precisely what we were looking for
Pamala Austin on October 03, 2017:
Thanks for the info! I want everyone to stay away from the SweetPea MP3 player. I bought one for my grandson ($80.00) and it was broken. The company brags about their great customer service that does not exist. They will not respond to warrenty problems. Terrible product.
shirley on August 27, 2017:
Trish on November 16, 2015:
Looking for a budget mp3 player with built in speakers for a 12 year old. Or speakers with a built-in mp3 player. Can't find much of anything and what I find has crappy reviews. Any ideas?
J on November 02, 2015:
A great one for toddlers is the SweetPea3. Has built in speaker, handle, and sound control if you want to plug in headphones. We have an older model with just physical buttons and love it. It's been through 2 kids and a trip to the hospital. Coating is starting to flake, but it's been 6 or 7 years. Haven't tried newer models with touchscreen.