UK consumer watchdog Which? has declared Apple's iPod mini its Best Buy MP3 player – even though it won't ship until July.

The title compared a variety of solid-state and hard drive-based music players to arrive at its conclusion. Apple's iPod products beat off competition in the hard drive category from Archos, Creative, Philips, Rio and Thomson.

Which writes: "the iPod mini easily makes it as a new Best buy. It has only 4GB of storage rather than the normal iPod's 15 plus – which translates as about 1,000 rather than 4,000 songs – but, like the original, the mini's sound quality and simple design set it apart."

Which is effusive in its praise, saying: "If we gave marks for appearance, it would bump the mini's total test score up to at least 100 per cent."

Apple's iPod (15GB+) is also a Best Buy in the hard-drive category, scoring 78 per cent, while the mini takes 74 per cent. Philips HDD100 – the leading runner-up in the category – takes 63 per cent, despite its average sound quality (according to Which?).

iRiver's IFP-599T (cost £330, capacity 1GB) is the leading runner-up across both hard-disk and solid state categories. Even that product wins just 65 per cent approval, offering what Which