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Microsoft Zune 8GB

Microsoft, seeing the futility in polishing turds, went back to the drawing board to design the second rev of the Zune. (If only they’d do the same for Vista!) Fortunately for early adopters, many of the new features and desktop software will be made available for the first-gen Zune via a firmware update.

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Cowon D2

Cowon provides a wealth of choice where SanDisk sets severe limits: The D2 supports not only MP3, WMA, and secure WMA, but also OGG, FLAC, and even WAV.

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SanDisk Sansa Connect 4GB

Microsoft’s idea of letting people share their favorite songs using a wireless connection was as botched in execution as it was brilliant in conception. SanDisk’s Sansa Connect makes much more sense, although it requires users who want to share to cough up the $12- to $15-per-month subscription fee for Yahoo’s Music Unlimited to Go service.

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Dice Electronics iPod Integration Kit

Finding an aftermarket stereo that blends seamlessly with your car’s interior can be an impossible dream; it’s certainly not a task you’d want to endure just so you could plug in your iPod. For that, you should consider buying a third-party integration kit that allows you to retrofit your factory unit.

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Ion Audio iTTUSB Turntable

Ion Audio is a division of Numark, a company that manufactures a ton of gear targeted at the professional DJ market. The iTTUSB is one of four turntables it offers that features not only a built-in phono preamp but also a USB interface. This table can perform the analog-to-digital conversion on its own and send the digitized audio to your PC via the provided USB cable. We’d advise leaving that task to a good soundcard, but we welcome the flexibility. We also like most of the trade-offs that Ion made: Instead of spending money on an automatic tonearm and a dust cover, Ion splurged on an adjustable tonearm counterweight, a removable headshell that can accommodate a variety of cartridges, and an antiskate adjustment that will extend the life of your stylus.

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Audio-Technica AT-LP2Da

Audio-Technica has a stellar reputation as a manufacturer of pro-audio gear, and it’s a major player in the Japanese consumer-electronics market. The company doesn’t have much of a presence in the U.S. consumer market, but the AT-LP2Da (a package consisting of the Audio-Technica AT-PL50 turntable and Cakewalk’s Pyro software) is widely available here.

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Doghouse Electronics RoverTv Wide Screen

Doghouse Electronics’s RoverTv sits up and begs comparison to the Archos 604, which we named the best digital media player of 2006. But we found this dog just a bit mangy.

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SanDisk Sansa e280R Rhapsody

We liked almost everything about SanDisk’s Sansa e260 flash-memory digital media player when we reviewed it in November 2006, but we slapped it with a verdict of 5 because we activated its voice recorder every time we picked the damned thing up. The Sansa e280R fixes that problem and adds two more gigs of memory for good measure.

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Kingston K-PEX 100 Portable Media Player

We hate to admit it, but we sometimes judge a book by its cover. Kingston’s K-PEX 100 is a case in point—this flash media player sat in the Lab unopened and unloved for weeks.

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