MP3 Players Buyers Guide - Best MP3 Player to Buy
The great number of MP3 players on the market at present makes buying MP3 players a confusing business. The
following MP3 players buyers guide will explain the various options and help to steer you towards the best MP3
player to buy to suit your needs.
Flash Memory or Hard Drive
The main decision when choosing your MP3 player comes down to two types of player. These two basic types of MP3
player are those models with flash memory and those with hard drives. Flash Memory MP3 players are great if you do
a lot of exercising, such as jogging or running. Hard drive players have the capacity to be used as portable hard
drives and provide lots of storage space for videos and music.
Don't be put off by the apparently small size of flash memory players. Each gigabyte of memory can hold around
250 songs, so a 4 GB MP3 player has a storage space of approximately 1000 songs which is more than sufficient for
the most passionate music fan.
And don't forget, you can simply change the contents of an MP3 player if you get fed up of listening to the same
songs. So even at 250 songs with a 1 GB player, you have plenty of music to listen to.
MP3 Player Navigation
With a large number of songs on an MP3 player, the navigation system becomes important for finding particular
music tracks. The navigation system should therefore be simple to use, require relatively few button clicks to
reach your goal, and ideally should be customizable to your own preferences.
When you are testing out different MP3 players for their navigation, here are a few things to bear in mind.
You should be able to hold and operate the MP3 player with one hand. Some MP3 players have an awkward design of
buttons, placing some of them on the sides of the player and some on the front face. All of the controls should be
under or at least reachable with your thumb.
The display should allow you to identify your position in the directory structure so you can move up and down
the directory tree effortlessly. You should also be able to create directories at any level in the structure.
Lastly, there should be a search function allowing you to find songs by different criteria such as song title,
artist or album.
MP3 Player Batteries
It is inconvenient to have to repeatedly recharge the batteries in your MP3 player, so pay attention to the
specifications concerning playing time.
This figure can vary widely - from 10 hours to 36 hours. It is affected by the type of batteries as well as the
features that are included. Very simply, the more features that an MP3 player has and the more you will likely use
them which will result in a shorter battery life.
Rechargeable batteries are the best choice for an MP3 player. Lithium-ion batteries are the most favoured but
players which use AA or AAA batteries can use Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries are normally enclosed in the case of the MP3 player. With some players, such as the Apple
iPod, the battery is not accessible to the user. Conmsequently, the batteries cannot be swapped which means that at
the end of the battery life the whole MP3 player has to be replaced.
Lithium-ion batteries have a recharge life of around 500 cycles. After that, they have to be replaced. Since the
iPod battery is not accessible, you have to send the complete iPod to Apple to have the battery replaced.
Audio Compression Formats
There are a number of different audio compression formats including MP3, WMA and AAC . It is safe to say that
every MP3 player can play MP3 files, but not every player can play WMA or AAC .
Windows Media Audio or WMA is a Microsoft supported format and is utilised for audio files which have been
protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management) . A number of the songs available for buy from Internet stores such
as Napster and MSN Music are in WMA DRM format, so if you plan on purchasing from these stores, you require an MP3
player which supports the format.
Advanced Audio Coding or AAC is used almost exclusively by the Apple iPod . If you own an iPod, it will be
difficult to trade AAC files with a friend who has a different type of MP3 player. Of course, the files can be
converted, but that is an additional step.
Other, not so well known formats such as Ogg Vorbis and MP3 Pro are supported by comparatively few MP3 players
even though they offer far better sound quality and smaller file sizes.
MP3 Player Displays
There are are a small number of MP3 players which have no screen, but they are a quite rare. The majority of MP3
players will have at least a small LCD display that shows you the current song being played. Bigger displays are
required for MP3 players which have larger memory, because you want to be able to navigate through the file
structure to locate individual songs.
It is important that the screen on any MP3 player is easy to read. If it is too small to see clearly, or cannot
display an sufficient amount of information, it is next to useless. Another important aspect is that the display
should also have some form of back lighting for viewing at night or in dark conditions .
Displays can be either monochrome or full color. Color displays are included in the more upmarket MP3 players,
and are essential for players which possess photo and video capabilities. The larger the display the easier it is
to read and more information can be shown at one time, but bigger displays also use additional power, thus
shortening the battery life.
Additional MP3 Player Accessories
Some MP3 players possess built in microphones, FM radios, stop watches and personal managers. The value of these
additional features is purely an individual choice. If you need to keep voice notes or record meetings then the
built in microphone would be a handy extra. Stop watches are useful for the runner or jogger who likes to have a
music background during workouts. Although you do not need them for the music, an FM Radio is advantageous for
obtaining weather and traffic reports.
Some MP3 players also have personal managers which can be synchronized with your computer address book or
calendar. This is a great feature for individuals who are on the road and need a convenient way to have their
timetable and contacts close at hand.
Some other useful accessories are a case to protect the player from knocks and scratches, an armband or belt
clip for hands free listening, a remote control, spare batteries and a power supply for indoor mains use.
For those who plan to use the MP3 player in the car, an adapter that allows the sound to be heard over the car
audio system is very convenient. These come in two types - an FM transmitter that sends the sound to the FM radio,
and a cassette adapter that allows you to use the cassette player to listen to your MP3 player. Do not forget to
get a car power adapter at the same time.