MP3 Player Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

There has simply never been a better way than MP3 players to make so much of your music portable. This MP3 player buying guide will show you exactly what to look for in an MP3 player, so you can take your music, movies and other files with you anywhere.

Know Your MP3 Players:

MP3 Player Buying Guide

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  • Storage capacity:

    Your digital music player uses digital memory to store audio files, videos, photos and other data.

  • MP3 players with large capacities store the music and other files on an internal hard drive, which allows them to store over 100 GB of data. That's a lot of space for music and other media. These MP3 players aren't ideal for use during workouts. Excessive movement during exercise can jolt the moving parts, causing damage to the hard disk, or make the music skip. These players also tend to be larger, thicker and a bit heftier than smaller capacity digital players.

  • Flash-based MP3 players feature flash memory, which has no moving parts. Flash MP3 players are lightweight and slim, but flash-drive MP3 players have smaller capacities. Their highest capacities max out at a dozen gigabytes or so, which is still plenty of space for thousands of songs and several hours of video.

  • Data storage:

    Some MP3 players also serve as flash drives, so you can transfer other types of non-music files between computers. A built-in USB port can make it simple to plug in and trade files.

  • Photo viewing:

    Store your favorite shots on your MP3 player. You can share photos with friends and view slideshows if your player has an LCD view screen.

  • Recording:

    Some MP3 players feature digital voice recorders, which are great for recording lectures or personal memos, saving them as playable audio files.

  • Video playback:

    Most portable MP3 players with video playback are great for watching movies and TV shows. If you plan on watching a lot of video, look for an MP3 player with a widescreen display for a better picture. You'll also need to know which video file types your digital video player can play.

  • Wireless capability:

    Some MP3 players are able to transfer songs and files wirelessly or through Bluetooth. If your MP3 player has a touch screen, you may be able to access the Internet and download games and other applications. Just make sure your other devices use the same wireless technology so they are compatible.

  • Hold switch:

    If you're like most people, you'll be storing your digital MP3 player in your pocket or backpack. That means you may inadvertently bump a button now or then, which could potentially waste valuable battery life or skip to the next song before you're ready. A hold switch will disable your MP3 player controls until you release it.

  • Expandability:

    More and more MP3 players feature memory expansion slots, where you can insert flash memory cards to expand storage capacity, transfer files or swap out large numbers of audio files quickly.

  • File formats:

    Music files come in a number of different formats. The file size and audio quality varies between file formats. MP3 is just the most common format. Different online music stores use different formats, however. Your digital music player may be compatible with common file types, like MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA and others. Before you buy digital music, check to be sure your player can read that file type.

  • Battery power:

    Nearly all MP3 players use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, although you may find one that accepts alkaline disposable batteries. Li-ion batteries will usually last several years with regular use. Your digital music player may come with adapters and chargers for connecting to your computer, car or an electrical outlet. A single charge may last a few hours or all day, depending on whether you're just listening to music, watching video or using other applications.