What You Should Know Before You Buy An MP3 Player

By: Jim Johnson

These days mp3 players are all the rage and consumers are lining up to take advantage of this latest evolution in music technology. But there are already lots of portable mp3 players on the market and many don't understand what to look for when they buy an mp3 player. So here are a few things you need to understand before you buy:

Essentially there are four kinds of mp3 players on the market, and they are most easily grouped by their ability to store the digital sound files. Also keep in mind that "mp3" has come to represent all digital sound file formats, and the most common is the WMA format. But here are the various kinds of mp3 players available:

1. Flash memory mp3 players - These tend to be the smallest and lightest of the bunch. They use flash memory to store songs with 128MB on up to 1GB of storage. Basically 256MB can hold about 60 songs, so flash memory players are best for folks who will use their player on short trips or excursions. They are also great for joggers and exercisers since there are no moving parts that can get damaged by the constant movement.

2. Micro-drive mp3 players - These use very small hard drives to store song data, and they usually come in around 4GB to 6GB in storage space. Because they use a hard drive they can be damaged if dropped, so that is a consideration, but they do offer much more storage capacity than the flash memory models.

3. Hard drive mp3 players - These tend to have the highest capacity, but also the largest size of all mp3 players. Since they have 20GB to 30GB of storage space they can hold unusually large amounts of songs, perhaps even a person's entire song collection. The trade-off is the size and weight, although it is not a major consideration. However, keep in mind that hard drives can be easily damaged if handled roughly.

4. CD players with mp3 capability - CD players have been around for quite a while now and most people are very familiar with them. Many newer models now have the ability to play mp3 files that are recorded onto CDs from your home computer. They have no storage capacity of their own, but they can play mp3 files on your own CDs. They of course are limited in size by the CD itself, but can provide low cost mp3 listening if someone is looking for very cheap portable mp3 players.

Any of the above choices will let you listen to clean, clear, digital sound files. The main differences have to do with how you plan on using the player to listen to your music, and how much music you want to have available at one time. You should now understand what kind of mp3 players are available, so a good strategy would be to check with some of the best mp3 player reviews online and choose the one that will most likely fit your needs best.

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