mp3 Player Buying Guide

KEY FEATURES

Storage

This is really critical for those of you who like their quality in large quantities. Hard drive-based players have maximum storage—60 GB. Flash-based players provide around 32 GB memory and the affordable options offer about 1 or 4 GB.

File management

MP3 players use the ID3 tags through which embedded information such as artist, song title and album is provided to the player. However, different players organize this data differently. Since most players come with an in-built LCD screen, solving the mystery of data organization won’t be too difficult.

Transfer speed/port type

Most MP3 players use the USB 2.0, which is much faster for download and transfer of audio files. Most MP3 players require you have a PC with a USB 1.1 or 2.0 port.

FM Radio

Most MP3 players, except iPods from Apple come with an inbuilt FM Radio and some with FM Recorder as well. There are also players which come with Voice Recording facility.

Software

All MP3 players come with bundled software that allows you to download songs from a PC. However, there are players that work with a variety of other programs as well.

LCD screen

How important is an LCD screen for a music player? Very Large screens helps you to organize and look for the audio file you want to play more easily than players with puny screens.

TYPES OF MP3 PLAYERS

There are four types of MP3 players – MP3 CD players, Flash-based CD players, Micro Hard-drive based players and hard drive based players. Each also has its own advantages and disadvantages.

MP3 CD Players

These look just like portable CD players, except they can read data CDs filled with digital music. You can burn approximately 150 MP3 songs (10 albums) on one 650MB disc. But if you want to take your CD collection with you, no worries–these devices can play standard CDs, as well.

Pros

  • These are the least expensive of all types of MP3 players
  • They use incredibly inexpensive replaceable media (CD-R/RW discs).

Cons

  • They are large and can skip when jostled

Flash Based players

The original MP3 player design, these have no moving parts and are known for their shockproof operation and ultra-compact dimensions.

Devices range in capacity from 32MB to 6GB, though most new players don’t go below 512MB.

Pros

  • Flash-based players are tiny.
  • They also have no moving parts, so their batteries last longer, and you can jog, snowboard, or bungee jump with them without causing skipping or damage.
  • Many flash players include lots of extra features such as voice and line in recording.

Cons

  • The aforementioned extras can make flash players a bit harder to use
  • They have the highest per-megabyte cost and max out at 6GB.

Micro Hard drive based

Straddling the line between full-size hard drive-based MP3 players and compact, flash-based players, these models aim to give you the best of both worlds by using miniature hard drives (about 1 inch or less in diameter) with capacities of up to 8GB.

Pros

  • They’re smaller and lighter than high-capacity players.
  • Hold more music than flash-based models with the same price.

Cons

  • You get fewer megabytes per rupee than you do with a larger player.
  • Hard drives have moving parts, so these players aren’t ideal for strenuous physical activity.
  • Use rechargeable batteries (usually lasting 8 to 20 hours per charge) that you can’t replace yourself, so after several years, you might have to pay for a new model

Hard drive based players

Most likely, a high-capacity player can accommodate every song you’ve ever purchased or ripped from a CD. Hard drives run from 20GB on up, and large players such as the 60GB Apple iPod can hold around 17,000 songs, assuming an average file size of 3.5MB per tune.

Pros

  • They store all your music on one device.
  • They also tend to have more features and larger screens and are overall easier to use.
  • High-capacity players give you value for money in terms of price per gigabyte

Cons

  • These players are usually built around a 1.8-inch hard drive; thus, they are larger and heavier than the others.
  • Hard drives have moving parts, so these players aren’t ideal for strenuous physical activity.
  • Most use rechargeable batteries (usually lasting 8 to 20 hours per charge) that you can’t replace yourself, so after several years, you might have to pay for a new model

If you commute by car, a hard drive-based model is recommended, wherein the size doesn’t matter much. You would also need a cassette-style adapter and a cigarette-lighter charger. If your car has no cassette player, then you need an FM transmitter device or a direct line-in jack on your car stereo. If you commute via train or bus, do jogging or listen to music in gym a compact flash-based player would be the best option, along with a pair of noise-canceling or sound-isolating headphones to seal out as much of the din as possible.


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