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Comparing MP3 Players - What Makes Them Different?

Aug 17, 2007
Musical formats have moved along a path of a rapidly moving evolution, keeping us all reeling with a ... "What next!" The latest MP3 players follow the bulky eight-tracks, smaller cassettes, and the CD advancements, keeping our closets of old technology pretty full. The small MP3 players fit into a device, such as the Apple iPod Shuffle, approximately 1.62 X 1.07 X .41 inches, carrying 240 songs at 1GB. Music has come a long way since our Walkman and Discman, due to its lightweight tiny size, musical precision, and a lot larger music storage for the listener.

The ability to store large amounts of music, instead of carrying around a case of CDs with our favorite music, is a huge factor for its popularity. Another advantage is being able to mix and match various songs by loading single song files onto the MP3 player. You can download these songs are accessible through many avenues: purchasing or downloading them from various sites on the Internet; or downloading them off a person's favorite CDs. These songs are categorized into playlists in the player, with the listener being able to customize and organizing them in whichever way the want. Other options other than music are lectures, speeches, music to exercise with, or webcasts. They can be selected on the MP3 player through playlists, and the listener can choose whichever music or lecture they want.

There are other reasons why the MP3 players are more popular than other types of musical playback devices. A big reason is that it plays digital files, or MP3 files, which require no moving parts inside the device - like the older CDs or tape players. This lack of moving parts means no skipping of music or something malfunctioning. Of course, many of the MP3 players do not work well while jogging - yet - but they do not skip like they used to with the slightest bump.

The technology of the MP3 player is made from what has already been around. It is nothing innovative, just put together different for a new way. Powered by batteries or AC adapters, the MP3 players are basically "data storage devices" that come with a certain type of embedded software applications, letting the listener transfer the digital music files from the computer or CD to their player. The computer transfers (in some cases, CDs) music through the USB port on the computer to the MP3 player, where it is stored in its memory. The microprocessor in the player then listens to what the listener, or use, tell it to do and displays the what data, what song, etc. and decompresses the stored file. It is then turned into sound waves for music, displayed on the LCD screen what is being played. With the same basic technology, most MP3 players are available in different types, depending on the budget or preferences desired. To decide which one a person wants, requires an understanding of these differences.

The quite affordable Flash memory MP3 player is the most popular and most common musical device. It is smallest and most lightweight of all the different players, with no moving parts. Their average storage is about 1GB of memory which is sufficient as the battery runs a very small device, which will allow about 17 hours of listening. Some of the new newer flash memory MP3 players are working on an increase to 2GB, with higher listening capacity.

Another type of MP3 player is the hard drive device. Their advantage is they store a larger music library as compared to the Flash Memory players, which would be an advantage if the user has a large amount of music files or lectures for storage. The device is not as small in size as the Flash memory player but it holds up to 120 GB, instead of 1GB. The are called the "workhorse of the MP3 players" and are worth every penny.

The MP3 CD are for those who don't like a lot of change, and really don't want to give up their CDs. This device is used for the benefit of listening to MP3 files that have been burned on a CD-R/RW disc, each one holding about ten hours of music. A user can either purchase a burner or have someone else burn the music on the CD. The price for this device is cheaper than the Flash Memory or Hard Drive MP3 players, but does skip music as the older music players did. Its size is larger also than the previous two, so a lot depends on the pocketbook and what a person wants. Shopping around will offer the latest technology, prices, and what they offer.
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