$50 to $100
Philips GoGear Vibe 8GB MP3 Player SA3VBE08K/37
Slipping in at an even $50, the Philips Vibe offers great value in a small package. While there are many things to love about this device - the 1.8 inch color screen, the easy to navigate menus, the 24 hour battery life and the built-in FM receiver - the real show stopper is the sound quality. This player doesn't miss the high-end treble or the pounding base. Where some units sound tinny and others crackle at the hint of bass, this one shines. The only thing that put me off is that it advertises a sound recording feature, but then fails to deliver any onboard software to utilize it. Oh well...for fifty bucks this one is still a steal.
SanDisk SDMX22-008G-A57K Sansa Clip Zip 8 GB
This version of the SanDisk SDMX22 comes with 8 GB standard memory instead of 4 GB. The specs are the same except for one, and it's a biggie. Unfortunately, to do this, SanDisk had to eliminate the Micro SD card slot. It's still a great value at $51.
RCA Lyra Slider 8GB Digital Media Player
The RCA Lyra isn't just a fancy looking player that jumped on the slider bandwagon. It delivers the goods with a 2.2 inch screen and 8GB of onboard memory. It sports a 24 hour battery life when in audio mode, converts media files into playable formats automatically and syncs with a Windows-based computer with ease. Transferring files is as easy as dragging and dropping and the audio quality is superb. Even the earbuds that come with this player are awesome (some of the most comfortable I've ever worn). It isn't perfect, though. It only supports one playlist so it is best to keep multiple lists on your computer and transfer them over when you need to. Still, for $61 it is a bargain MP3 player.
Sony Walkman NWZ-E354 8GB Digital Music Player
The $64 Sony Walkman NWZ-E354 brings the personal audio innovator back into the picture as a real player. With 50 hours of audio and 10 hours video playback time it dwarfs most of its in class competitors. The two-inch screen is faster and more responsive than others of the same size and the brilliant backlighting makes others seem dull in comparison. The drag and drop interface allows you to use Windows-based transfers or iTunes, so you have multiple ways to get music to the player. It also comes with a sleep feature that allows you to use it as you nod off to bed. This is my pick for the best of the best. Great quality at a very good price.