Year of the iPod

2005 review MP3 The story 2005 was the year that digital music went properly mainstream, with download sales eclipsing CD singles and MP3 players bec

2005 review MP3

The story 2005 was the year that digital music went properly mainstream, with download sales eclipsing CD singles and MP3 players becoming the year’s must-have gadget following 2004’s iPod-white Christmas. While rivals played catch-up, Apple stole the budget market with the Shuffle, offering a gigabyte of music for less than £100 and illustrating the awesome power of the Apple marketing machine: who’d have believed we could be conviced that the lack of an LCD display was a unique selling point?

The highs Creative and Sony battled hard to match Apple’s sheer brilliance. After the Shuffle, the iPod family spawned the sexiest player ever (the solid-state, wafer-thin Nano) and the video-playing iPod. But the arrival of Microsoft’s latest Windows Media technology gave the iPod's rivals a new killer feature – the ability to store songs downloaded from music rental services like Napster To Go.

The lows Motorola flew journalists to Miami in March for a preview of the iTunes-compatible mobile, only to decide it wasn’t ready for a public airing. When it finally launched in September, it was a huge disappointment. Meanwhile, MP3 die-hards said a fond farewell to Rio, the company which suffered litigation from the music industry when it launched the portable MP3 player revolution back in 1999.

MP3 player of the year Sony’s HD-5 delivered stunning sound quality and great battery life, while Creative’s Zen Micro Photo is the most fully-featured player on the market. But it’s the iPod nano’s iconic mix of style, size and sheer desirability that makes it the MP3 player of the year.

Tomorrow: From hi-fi to new-fi

Previous 2005 reviews:

The best digicams of 2005

MP4 video players

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