TUCOWS ARTICLE

Tips On Buying An MP3 Player

Looking to buy an MP3 player as a gift this year? Get some tips just in time for the holidays.
Published: Dec 7, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows
Tucows Editorial Feature

Tips On Buying An MP3 Player

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder


As part of our series designed to help you with your shopping during theholidays, today we're looking at MP3 Players.. There is anamazing variety of MP3 players to choose from. Because the iPodis so popular I'm going to cover that next week all by itself. Fortoday we'll look at MP3 players so you can make an informed decisionwhen buying one for someone on your Christmas list.

Different Types

What many people don't realize is that there are different types of MP3players. They don't all use the same technology. There are three (3)basic types:

  • Flash
  • Micro hard drive
  • Hard drive

Flash Players are very similar to the USB Flash Drivesthat I talked about when I discussed external storage. Overall, thesetend to be smaller and more compact.

They also don't tend to have a huge capacity. So, a big flashplayer is around 2 gigabytes. While the cost keeps coming down this typecost more per megabyte of all the various types. There are advantagesbecause flash drives don't have moving parts. Why is that an advantage?Well, if you want to get an MP3 player for the runner in your life, aflash player won't skip while they're running. Battery life tendsto be good so these types of players are great for really active people.I've owned ones by iRiver and Creative and both were excellent. The onefrom iRiver even had built-in FM radio which was nice too.

Micro Hard Drive Players tend to have more capacity because they use teeny, tiny hard drives. Most hold about 6 gigabytes, which is a lotof music. On average one (1) gigabyte can hold about 240 songs. Justremember that because they use a hard drive they are more likely to haveproblems if used while you're playing football or wrestling. Seriously,though, if you aren't doing really strenuous exercise a micro hard driveplayer should be fine.

Lastly, we come to the Hard Drive Players. Your basiciPod falls into this category. Hard drive players tend to havelots of storage. My wife has an iPod Photo with 60gigabytes of storage. That's room for about 15,000 songs. Don't havethat many songs? Then you can use the space for pictures and evenvideos depending on the device. Remember, if you're looking forsomething that can do music, photos, and video, be sure to check.

The hard drive players are heavier than the other types. Most haverechargeable batteries. Once again, because it uses a hard drive it'smore susceptible to problems during heavy exercise. As with most thingsin life, there are always trade-offs. Let's look at some guidelines.

Picking A Player

First off, in my opinion, size isn't the biggest factor. If youcan get 240 songs on 1 gigabyte you can get nearly 1,500 songs on 6gigabytes. So, if you want an MP3 player just for music then youcan go with a flash drive player or a micro hard driveplayer. The flash drive players are also better if you're veryathletic. If you're more sedentary, you may want to go with one of themicro hard drive or hard drive players. If you want to carryevery song you've ever heard with you you'll probably need a hard driverplayer. You'll also want one of these if you want to carry photos onyour device.

In my experience another big factor is the controls on the unit. Forexample, I have big hands so I like a device with controls that arereally easy-to-use. You may want to buy an MP3 player in person ratherthan on the Internet so you can try the unit out. If you're buyingonline all you have to go by is a description. Either purchase it inperson or be familiar with the controls. If you're buying it as a gift,be sure to keep the receipt.

Summing It Up!

The three types of MP3 players consist of flash-based, mini hard drive-based, and hard drive based. Only the flash players have no movingparts. If you're buying a gift for someone who's very active andexercises a lot, you may want to consider the flash-based playersbecause they're very tough. They can stand up to running, sports, rockclimbing, and more without a problem.

If you don't get into strenuous activities then you might want toconsider the mini hard drive or hard drive players. These tend to holdmore and often have bigger screens. The key thing to remember is not tobuy an MP3 player because it's cute. Think about how you plan touse a player. While you're mowing the lawn? That's not strenuous so youcan take your pick. Look at the battery situation -- replaceable orrechargeable? Which best fits in with your lifestyle? And perhaps mostimportantly look at how easy the player is to control. It doesn't matterhow many songs you have on there if you get frustrated trying to getthem to play.

If you're looking for an MP3 player, consider how it will be used and bywhom. Consider the kind of accessories you might want. Be hands on andtry to control a device before you buy it. Remember, don't buy anythingbecause it's cute. Clever looks will soon pale if you havetrouble using your MP3 player.

Next week I'll be looking at iPods and some of the availableaccessories.


For your convenience I've put links to the other articles in thisseries. Happy shopping!




About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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