MP3 Players Buying Guides

Some years ago, it would have been impossible to listen to music comfortably on the go if it was not on either a portable tape or CD player (like a Sony Walkman) or via a portable radio. Technology has advanced to the point that you can now listen to a vast library of digital music on the go, without carrying tapes or CD's. Although most MP3 players will do a great job of playing music, there are other things to be aware of if you're thinking of buying one.

It's currently a transitional time for MP3 players, as most mobile phones now have the ability to store and play music. However, some people still prefer a separate device with ample memory to store their favourite music and/or for watching their music videos. 


Storage capacity

Most often the storage capacity of an MP3 player will determine the cost of the player. The storage capacity is also referred to as the memory and it is measured in bytes. Usually the amount of storage you will need will depend on whether you'll be storing music and videos. Also the quality and length of the media files will determine how many of them can be stored. Usually, the larger the memory, the more songs and videos can be stored. 

Larger memory players are usually those that use a hard disk. Hard disk players may store more songs but they have a disadvantage of skipping during play because they make use of moveable parts. Flash memories may not have as much disk space,  but because there are no moveable parts, they are better to use.


Software

Generally, most players will come with built-in software that will handle music from CD's or convert them into a format that can be played on the player. It's possible to arrange music into different folders that include categories like, artist, album and genre. This software will also permit easy transfer of music between the payer and computers. To ensure that the player does not lose its usefulness too soon, the software can be updated (mostly online) and there can be quick fixes for bugs. Sometimes upgrades can enhance the performance of the player.


Display

The displays will vary depending on the type of player. Most will have small LED screens that show battery life and song tracks. Some models that have color display to enable a good user-experience when viewing images or movies.  You may also be able to view pictures in JPEG and other formats including slideshows.

Most MP3 players are now capable of displaying music videos or movies, with the data compressed to small sizes. There are various sources for the type of videos that will play on such a device. Since most MP3 players have small screens, it may be difficult to watch a whole movie on them. However, if you insist on using your player to watch full-length movies, it may be more enjoyable and easier on your eyes to go for those with a larger screen size. Note however that some of these players won't play protected videos.


Volume Limiters

Some MP3 players will have volume limiters that help keep the volume at comfortable levels that are safe for the user's hearing. While you can set the maximum volume, the volume of different songs will vary depending on how they were recorded and set.


File Support

Although your MP3 player will play MP3 music, not all songs come in MP3 format. However, the player may be able to play other file formats if they have the appropriate software built-in or downloaded to do so. That is why it's necessary to check the specifications of the player before you buy. Nevertheless, if your player of choice does not support the file format you have, you could always use converters to convert from one file format to another. Again, there are usually updates to the firmware that could cover this aspect.


Music Stores

If you are connected to the internet, you can download songs from online music stores fast and easy. However, some of these music stores have music only in formats that are compatible with certain brands of players. If you intend to use music subscription sites, make sure the music you're buying is in a format that is compatible with your device.


Other Features

It may be possible to use your MP3 player as a USB key to transfer files from one computer to another. They can also aid in transferring data from memory cards or another MP3 player without using a computer. Sometimes the files they transfer can't be viewed using the player. However, there are players that will display PDF and text data. Other MP3 players come with FM radio and voice recorder functions.