The first in our list of favourite cheap MP3 players is Creative's Zen Stone Plus. Although the simpler version -- the Zen Stone -- is cheaper, the Stone Plus offers a wealth of extra features and a screen for what is still an incredibly low price. We loved its sound quality and its affordability, and strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a tiny MP3 player with a massive sound.
Next up is SanDisk's Sansa Express. This little chap has a USB connection built in, so there's no messing around with cables. You can organise files easily within Windows and it offers great overall sound quality. Interestingly, there's also a microSD card slot in one end, meaning you're free to expand the player's internal memory as your music collection grows. Its little screen and navigational keypad are easy to use, too.
Sony's NW-E013 offers a meaty and bass-driven sound. But the most notable feature of this player is its incredible battery life of 30 hours, especially in comparison to other players of the same size. The downside here is that there's no drag-and-drop management of files -- you'll need to use Sony's awful SonicStage software to organise your music collection.
Finally, how could we forget Apple's iPod Shuffle? In its original incarnation it inspired a paradigm shift in the MP3 player world with its screenless form and ease of use. Now in its second generation, the Shuffle remains an ultra-stylish and accessible player but remains at the pricier end of the 'cheap' market.