Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player
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Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player

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Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player Document Transcript

  • Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player Two Basic Storage Types Find the right size for you Where will the MP3 player be used? Are you compatible? Getting music to your MP3 player Extra features Accessories See Accessories See Product It’s great to have your favorite music at your fingertips! Now you can enjoy it anywhere with an MP3 player – during your commute to work, on long trips, while working out or just relaxing in the sun. But we know that choosing the right MP3 player can be confusing. What can you get on your budget? Do you choose flash memory or a hard-drive player? Do you need more storage capacity in a larger player or an ultra-compact design with limited storage? Well, here’s where you can find out what MP3 player is right for you based on its features and characteristics. Before you decide what MP3 player to buy, you should have a basic understanding of the types of players, what features you want and what MP3 player best fits your lifestyle. Two Basic Storage Types Storage MP3 Player Storage Resistance Price Advantages Type Size Capacity to Skipping Range * Lets you carry your entire music collection. Large to * Large LCD viewer. * Easy-to-use controls. Hard Drive Compact very large Very Good $80 - $500 * Great for long drives in the car (4GB - 60GB) * Remarkably tiny for easy portability. * Great for high-impact exercise including Limited running and biking. Flash Drive Ultra-compact Excellent $25-$250 (128MB - 512MB) * Long battery life Hard Drive Many MP3 players use flash memory, but most manufacturers offer players with hard drives. The advantage of a hard drive is the massive storage it offers for MP3 files as well as photos, videos and personal data. If you want to store a library's worth of music, you need a player with memory measured in gigabytes. You have quite a range to choose from, starting with 4GB and going all the way up to 60GB. With all that space, these players let you organize your music into playlists, so you can create mixes for parties, road trips, vacations and more. Many of these players can also store data files, so you can carry your important documents electronically. Plus, hard drive-based players feature high- speed transfer through FireWire and USB 2.0 connectivity for moving big files easily and quickly. Pros: Stores large quantities of music files, images, videos and personal http://www.hhgregg.com/dynamic.asp?did=396 Copyright © 2005 hhgregg. All rights reserved. 1
  • Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player data; more features; larger screens and are overall easier to use Cons: Larger and heavier than Flash drive models with moving parts that make them less than ideal for strenuous physical activity; uses rechargeable batteries that you can't replace yourself so after several years, you might have to pay for a new model or pay to get the battery replaced. Flash Drive MP3 players using flash drives offer a few hours of music at a great value. These players generally range in storage from 128, 256, or 512 megabytes of memory, with newer models offering 1 and 2 gigabytes of memory. While you won’t be able to squeeze your entire music collection onto one, flash drive models are better able to handle sport and exercise activities without skipping. Their ultra-compact design allows them to be stowed away in the smallest space of a pocket, briefcase or backpack. Some of these players feature expandable memory so you can start with a smaller capacity and get additional SD/MMC cards as your music library grows. You can use multiple cards to store different types of music, so your classic rock collection won't get mixed in with your hip-hop jams. Pros: Ultra-compact – some are only as thick as a pencil; no moving parts that allows batteries last longer; and no skipping. Cons: Limited storage; smaller screens – some do not have screens. Where will the MP3 player be used? Your lifestyle has a great deal to do with which MP3 player is ideal for you. Different settings may require different features or functions that some MP3 players accommodate better than others. Each section below offers possible answers to the statement “I will use my MP3 player the most when …” Knowing this answer will help you tailor the storage size, features and accessories that you will want to accommodate your lifestyle. … in the car Do you need something to listen to on your way to and from work? Do you take several trips in a year? Look for these features in an MP3 player. • hard drive to store more music • car connection kit – available are cassette-style adapters, FM transmitter devices or direct line-in jacks to your car stereo • advanced playback features – pre-set playlists will allow your eyes to stay on the road and not on finding the next song • a pair of noise-canceling or sound-isolating headphones • extra battery http://www.hhgregg.com/dynamic.asp?did=396 Copyright © 2005 hhgregg. All rights reserved. 2
  • Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player … at the gym Do you need something to listen to while running or working out? Here are the features you should look for a MP3 player. • a compact design that’s easy to operate with one hand • flash drive model – storage size is not a big deal, just need enough storage to get you through a workout • armband (an option on many ultra compact models) • a set of headphones that will stay in place • FM radio reception – tune into FM radio stations and catch local weather updates • inline Remote for easy access to volume and playback functions … at home or in the office Do you have friends over often and need a place to store your entire music collection? Do you spend 8 hours or more a day at the office listening to music? You should look for these features. • hard drive storage • at least 40GB • advanced playback features – shuffle makes each day’s playlist different • comfortable headphones • home connection kit – choose from a docking station with speakers, FM transmitter device or a direct line-in jack on your home stereo • equalizer • voice recording – record important messages to remember later • extra charger for the office and home … in my free time Do you prefer to listen to music instead of watching TV? You should look for a MP3 player with… • storage capacity and type that will accommodate your budget, your music collection and your time – smaller capacity is often less money but you spend more time transferring new MP3s for each usage • docking station with a speaker system • connections for your home and car • color screen with image and video display • games • protective case Getting music to your MP3 player Some PCs include music management software for handling downloaded audio files and ripped CD tracks. If yours does not, you can purchase this software separately. (Windows Media Player, Ahead Nero, Roxio Easy CD Creator) Conveniently, most MP3 players come with a program of this type. Be sure the player you select has software that will work with your computer. CD Collection One of the most straightforward ways to get digital music is to rip all your music CDs to your computer, and then drop the files into your MP3 player. If this is the only way you're going to be getting digital music, you can go on and choose a player based on capacity, price, style or any other feature that appeals to you. http://www.hhgregg.com/dynamic.asp?did=396 Copyright © 2005 hhgregg. All rights reserved. 3 View slide
  • Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player Downloading Music Files A great way to add music to your MP3 player is by purchasing music online with services like iTunes, MusicNow, or Napster. By typing “MP3 or download MP3” into your favorite web search site, you can find several places online to purchase your favorite new and old music hits. You can buy a single song or a whole album and transfer the tracks you want from your computer to your digital audio player. It's easy, and these downloads are 100% legal. Are you compatible? Even the coolest MP3 player won't satisfy if it can't connect to your PC. Before you buy, make sure you've got total compatibility with your computer's connections and capabilities. If your PC is equipped with a newer operating system, that's a good start — most of our players require Windows® 98SE or later. Some newer MP3 players are equipped with USB 2.0 interfaces. This type of connection is amazingly fast, allowing you to transfer up to a song per second. But your computer must also have a USB 2.0 port in order for you to take advantage of the faster 2.0 transfer rates. If your PC is equipped with a standard USB (also known as USB 1.1) port, a USB 2.0 player can still work with it — it simply transfers songs at the slower USB 1.1 speed. Extra Features Different digital audio players offer a variety of extra features that may be right for your lifestyle. These are the extras that you may want to consider. Radio Many players offer FM radio reception. These are more common on flash devices, which lack the spinning hard drives and the CD-playing features that can interfere with the signal. AM radio is extremely rare. Other radio-related features include FM recording (usually to MP3), transmission (for playing back audio wirelessly through home and car stereos with FM tuners), and presets. Advanced playback features Just about every player offers shuffle, repeat, resume and playlist functions. Still, there's room for improvement. Newer models offer the ability to create on-the-fly playlists; smart playlists that can create, for example, a mix of '80s hip-hop; song-rating methods in which preferred tunes appear more frequently in Shuffle mode; automatic cross-fading that adds smooth transitions between songs; automatic volume control, which makes all songs equally loud; and other artificial intelligence modes that can make it feel like a pro DJ is spinning tunes for you. Voice recorder Some players can capture voice snippets via a built-in microphone, or record radio broadcasts from a built-in FM tuner. These players are especially great for people who want to save interviews or lectures to their player's memory. Plus, because voice recording is usually mono, not stereo, you can store lots of hours of voice recording (approximately 8 hours for every 128MB). http://www.hhgregg.com/dynamic.asp?did=396 Copyright © 2005 hhgregg. All rights reserved. 4 View slide
  • Buying Guide - Choosing an MP3 player Memory card slot If you choose a player with embedded flash memory and a memory card slot, you can expand the player's memory capacity. All you have to do is buy compatible flash memory cards separately, and use them to store additional tunes. Color screens with image display Many new hard drive and even flash drive players come equipped with a color screen that can display JPEG and BMP digital images. This is a nice feature for those who like to carry their precious digital memories with them, but be aware that you pay a little extra for it. Color screens are the wave of the future, and besides the photo viewing, the displays are brighter and easier to read. Video capability Rip movies and TV shows on your computer and watch them on your MP3 player. Entertainment Many MP3 players come loaded with video games. Equalizer Since digital audio files come from multiple sources and people have individual sonic preferences, EQ and other digital signal processing (DSP) settings can be useful. Look for a customizable EQ setting, as well as the standard presets (Rock, Jazz, Bass Boost, and so on). In terms of spatial enhancers, DSP features such as the SRS Wow add-on can make music coming through headphones sound like it's bouncing around a large room. It's purely a matter of personal preference. Accessories Once you've chosen an MP3 player, be sure to grab all the gear you need to get the most out of your new toy. Remote In-line remotes are another possible add-on; they tend to deliver easier control over your portable, and eliminate all of that stopping, hauling the thing out of your pocket, and peering at the LCD while you press the buttons. Cables One fast method to move songs onto your player is with a USB 2.0 cable, which can transfer a 100MB file in as fast as 1.6 seconds. Some players also feature a line-out that lets you record directly from any audio source, so you can load music straight from a CD without using a computer. If your digital audio player holds photos, connect it to your TV with A/V cables and share your slideshow with a crowd. Headphones Since digital audio players are so small and portable, most come with ear bud-style headphones. Clip-on and folding styles are popular as well. If you want to listen with a friend, pick up a headphone splitter. In-car accessories Chances are, you're going to want to listen to your new MP3 player in the car. That's why picking out a car connection option makes a lot of sense. The most common choice is a cassette adapter teamed with a car battery charger. If your car doesn't have a tape deck, look for an FM modulator — it actually broadcasts your player's music and your car's radio receives the signal and plays it. Stereo connector Players with a mini-jack connection can connect with a cable to your stereo. Dock Some docking stations include speakers, so you can park your player and release your music in one easy step. Protective cases Cases are a great investment when purchasing any player. It will help keep your player looking new after some minor bumps and drops. http://www.hhgregg.com/dynamic.asp?did=396 Copyright © 2005 hhgregg. All rights reserved. 5