Remembering All The Awesome MP3 Players That Were Not Apple’s iPod

Before we all carried miniaturized computers in our pockets, we all used to have a portable audio player; here are some of favorite old school MP3 players. I’ve never been a fan of Apple products; my experience with them as always been unimpressive: style over substance. I’ve had digital audio players years before the iPod came out and had a bunch of different ones while the Cupertino product was at the might of its popularity.


Most of the players I’m going to talk about are going to be pure digital audio players and I’ll always be thankful for Diamond for making some of the first affordable MP3 players.

Rio PMP 300

This was my first MP3 player; it came with a 16MB smart media card which wasn’t much but for the first time you could listen files on something else than your computer.

Rio DAP 500

I absolutely loved my Rio 500 it had 64MB and that was a full album at 128kbps. We’re talking about a player that came out a full year before Napster was released.

Rio Volt

The biggest disappointment I’ve ever had with a Diamond product; what was supposed to be an evolution was a step back with songs glitching due to the physical CD skipping.

Creative Labs

If Diamond was a graphics card manufacturer that ventured into the portable audio space, Creative Labs was known for its sound cards included the Sound Blaster series which dominated sales so when they entered the MP3 player market, there was a lot of expectations.

DAP Jukebox

The first digital audio player with a hard drive; with 6GB on board this was a good bye to 128MB cards and 700MB CDs. But the 4 AA batteries were getting drained quite fast.

Zen Jukebox

This was the iPod competitor and it was chunky with 30GB; it wasn’t a bad player at all; it didn’t have any design flair; however, it came at a fraction of the cost of an iPod.

Zen Touch

The following iteration of Creative Labs product was much slicker design-wise and with a touch strip for selection. It is the last audio-only player I’ve ever had.

My All Time Favorites

I’d like to go beyond the audio-only players and talk about my three favorite media players of all time, including the last dedicated media player I ever owned.

Nike Rio PSA

This is a collaboration between Nike and Diamond, the player was a 128MB rubberized and super stylish Rio that came with a band to wear it on your arm.

Creative Labs Zen PMC

I was a huge fan of Windows Media Center, so a player that let me watch on the go the tv shows I PVR’d on my Windows PC was something no iPod could do.

Microsoft Zune HD

I’ve loved the Zune series; it was so much more than just a media player; it was an entire social experience based around music; something that Apple failed to copy with Ping.