Mossberg: iPod Challengers Come Up Short

Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg has tested three competitors to the Apple iPod and concludes in his Thursday technology column that they come up short in beating what is still the best selling portable digital audio device.

Mr. Mossberg and assistant Katie Boehret tested the Pocket DJ from Dell, the Rio Carbon, and Creativeis Zen Micro, all of which boast 25% more storage capacity and longer battery life than the iPod. Even so, Mr. Mossberg concluded ease of use was the deciding factor.

"In our judgment, the three players are closer in style to competing with Appleis Mini than competitors have been in the past," he wrote. "But all three still lag behind badly in simplicity and ease of use -- so badly, in fact, that we canit recommend them over the Apple."

Mr. Mossberg wrote the user interfaces on all three models "were more awkward than Appleis", and worse yet "synchronizing the players with the music on a PC was a real challenge."

Mr. Mossberg wrote the Rio Carbon has a poor user interface and sound quality was less than stellar. As for the Dell Pocket DJ, itis five buttons and rolling dial are poorly positioned, causing almost carpel tunnel-like affects.

Although iiPod killersi are coming closer and closer to having the ability and ease of use of the iPod, Mr. Mossberg concludes they arenit close enough just yet.