Utterly typical. You spend hours crafting a blog trying to pin down the M3 (which up to this point had only existed as a name) only for FiiO to release details before you had a chance to post it. Well in that case we should swing our focus from speculation to anticipation because by the looks of it this is going to be a very competent little music player indeed. [caption id="attachment_57" align="aligncenter" width="362"] And a pretty one at that. As taken from FiiO's Facebook.[/caption] The main reason I began that speculative post about the M3 was that it was apparently a music player that isn’t part of FiiO’s excellent X series. This just seemed odd as the X series had consistently gone from strength to strength (culminating in the upcoming X7) and already gave a compelling audio experience on a budget – especially considering the X1 is only £99. Yet FiiO always push themselves and clearly want to see how budget they can go whilst retaining a quality listening experience. Step forward the M3, a tiny little DAP with room for 64 gig microSD cards alongside an 8 gig internal flash memory. It gives 36mW at 16ohms and has a battery life of 16 hours, all for around £35 ($55). I find that exciting, and you should too! Here’s why. This is only the beginning As I mentioned before, M isn’t X. The X series will continue to target budget/beginner audiophiles or those who just want their music to sound better for a good price. The M series, on the other hand, is likely to fill the void left by the old iPod Nano (and currently dominated by the Sansa Clip+); affordable and simple. That’s what I find so exciting, we’re in for a whole series of affordable and simple players to cater for all listeners. I’m sure an enhanced M5 is likely to follow which in turn would set FiiO up as being the go to company for entry level DAPs. It keeps going and going and going and going… Admittedly, large batteries are par for the course in portable music players; yet there’s something about a 16 hour battery life that gets me excited. Maybe it’s to do with the fact I had a 3rd generation iPod Nano that, come the end, could only manage 7 hours runtime. Maybe it’s because the X1 could only manage 11 hours at launch. Either way, that’s a lot of time to spend with your music. Which neatly leads us on to… It will have epic memory capabilities Ok, so maybe ‘epic’ is the wrong word. But still, 8GB inbuilt memory with a microSD card slot that can accommodate and additional 64GB is not to be sneezed at. That’s around 15000 songs of average file size/length and double that of the Sansa Clip+. It’s so much memory that the battery will die long before you’ve listened to it all. To me this is great news! I still have nightmares about hand selecting songs and albums to fit on my little 8GB Nano as I was only allowed c.1600 from a library of tens of thousands. More colour than you can shake a stick out. The M3 is going to come with a 2.0 inch 320*240 TFT screen that will provide clear representations of album art, something pretty rare in a player of this price bracket. FiiO are also taking a leaf out of Apple’s book by releasing the M3 in a myriad of colours as opposed to shades of metal. Don’t get me wrong, I think FiiOs use of titanium, silver and gold colouring really fits with their design aesthetic; I just also know that you can’t go wrong with a splash of green now and then! Simple economics FiiO make high quality budget audio products with each new release making a mockery of the adage ‘you get what you pay for’. You get really high quality for relatively little money. The nearest competition for the M3 will be the Sansa Clip+ which currently retails 10$ higher for less memory, less battery and a smaller screen. If we compare the M3 to the Sansa Clipzip then the price difference bloats to $100. Now it should be noted that we are yet to hear how the M3 will sound, which is kind of important. However going by FiiO’s recent track record they clearly know what they’re doing and I’m positive we can expect a great sound for such little investment. We haven’t got long to wait as this little chappie will be out in December and I think it’ll do pretty well. Obviously the biggest problem it’ll come up against is the lack of streaming capability but then again FiiO have only begun to address this in the X7. But that said, there is obviously a market for this type of audio device else you wouldn’t see so many Sansa Clip fans. All that remains to be seen is what file types it supports and how it sounds with my Soundmagic E10s. Exciting times! Can't wait until December? AV Shop sells a full range of FiiO audio gear. Click here to visit our eBay shop!