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Key Features of MP3 Players


When evaluating an MP3 players, it pays to concentrate on the important features, so that you are not swayed by hyped up media on the glitzy, less important features.

The most important features of MP3 Players are:

  1. Storage Type
  2. Memory Capacity
  3. Music Formats Supported
  4. Computer Compatablity
  5. Connectivity


Storage Type

MP3 storage is either on:

  • Hard-drive - most mp3 players including Apple ipod; prone to shock effect. Support much higher memory.
  • Flash-drive - found on Apple ipod Nano and SanDisk players


Memory Capacity

A minimum capacity of 1GB of music storage space, with 2GB, 4GB and even 8GB flash models becoming common. Hard-drive devices go as high as 60GB, and the newest iPod has an 80GB capacity.

One gigabyte of memory equals about 250 songs.

SanDisk - the Sansa e280 8GB includes a microSD memory card slot to increase torage capacity of 10GB.


Music Formats

Most MP3 player software allows you to convert existing music CDs into MP3 format on your computer. Most MP3 players are also compatible with other music formats, such as Windows Media Audio (WMA).

  • Apple iTunes Music Store uses an MP3 format called AAC, which is readable only by iPod models.
  • Online music stores such as Napster, Wal-Mart and BuyMusic.com use copy-protected WMA [ WMA DRM]
  • Subscription-based music such as Napster To Go, Rhapsody and Musicmatch On Demand charge a monthly fee for unlimited downloads for portable players - you cannot burn these songs to CD.

Compatability Constraints

Not all players are compatible with WMA DRM and subscription services.

  • iPod models cannot play any WMA files or music from subscription services.
  • Microsoft Zune can only play protected content from its own Zune Marketplace, which also offers a Zune Pass subscription service.
  • All MP3 players can play songs in unprotected MP3 format, and there are many legal and not-so-legal sites that sell songs in MP3 format.

Computer Compatability

Vista compatibility has some lingering compatibility issues with many MP3 players.

For Windows-based players, all models that are compatible with Windows Media Player 11 should work with Vista.

Apple is experiencing issues with iTunes and Vista , so avoid Vista if you have an iPod.

For more guidelines and updates on Vista with iPod


Other Features

Most non-iPod players have a bundle of extra features such as:

  • FM tuner
  • Voice recording
  • Line-in recording

These features may or may not be valuable to you.

NEXT: MP3 Player Buying Guide

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