I would definitely recommend an earphone upgrade for the Fuze, in fact I bought a new pair 2 days after getting my player! While it doesn’t have a true line-out jack, output through the headphone jack sounds great through a good set of desktop computer speakers, and even better through an old, but very high quality analog home stereo setup! So this player definitely has a good bit of potential and sounds great, but with the stock earbuds its a bit like trying to watch a blu-ray movie with a 7 inch black and white tv. MicroSD cards, cases, chargers and the like can wait, these buds are awful!
I also found the stock earbuds to be very uncomfortable. Maybe I just have strangely shaped ears, but I’ve found all conventionally shaped earbuds to have a loose and inconsistent fit, and not that comfortable. As the stock Fuze earbuds are a little larger, they were even harder to keep in place, and I found them to be downright painful! Which means I can’t relax (b/c they hurt), can’t be moving much at all (or they fall out), and they sound terrible.
I can’t afford $100 or even $50 premium earbuds, and a larger set of headphones kinda kills the portability factor. After a bit of searching I came across the best of all worlds (for me), in the Philips SHS8000. They are a high quality set of in-ear canal buds with nice soft rubber cones (in 3 different sizes, so you can find the perfect fit to seal your ears), but instead of having to jam them into your ears to keep them in place, they are supported by soft rubber hooks over the top of your ears, but made of a much softer material than the hard clips with on-ear phones. So they fit great and are so comfortable you often forget they are there, and seal perfectly. All this with no effective size penalty, as the wires pass through the soft hooks, so you can just wrap the hooks around your player when you store it. Sound quality is a huge improvement over the stock buds (check the link for specs), with much more clarity, more range than you’ll even need, and enough volume that I’ve never had to turn my Fuze’s volume up past 2/3, even in loud settings.
But my favorite part is their ability to overcome the biggest complaint of in-ear headphones: deafness to the outside world. When shoved all the way into your ear, they make a perfect seal, and in fact I sometimes wear them as earplugs just for the peace and quiet. But if you are in a setting where you want your music, but also want to be able to tell when someone is speaking to you (or any other important noise, for that matter), you can just pull them out and add a few more notches of volume. Thanks to the hooks, the drivers will just sit right outside of your ear canals, delivering quality sound without sealing you off from everything else. Honestly, its very similar to on-ear headphones in function, so kudos for versatility!
All in all, these Philips are a great value at only 30 bucks at Target. Certainly you can find higher quality sound with more expensive choices (and possibly at the same, I haven’t listened to them all), but I have yet to find the sound quality or volume lacking in any way. So you certainly won’t be missing anything. I have yet to find a set of earbuds at ANY price point that are truly MORE comfortable and MORE versatile than these are. These will NEVER fall out on their own (and rarely even if you yank the cord), and are comfortable enough to forget they’re even there, whether sleeping, running, snowboarding, or whatever. And its great to be able to pull the plugs out and just let them hang so you can hear other things. Throw all these features and great sound into a single package for 30 bucks, and I see no reason to spend more.