Buying an mp3 player It seems everyone has one these days, walking dog, traveling work, at gym, idea of carrying your entire music library with you everywhere you go is appealing to most of us, but what is this mp3 thing anyway?
What is mp3? MP3, an abbreviation for Moving Picture Experts Group layer III, is a technology that allows audio data to fit into a much smaller space than it was originally, with little or no loss of audio quality. Usually raw audio data is very large and unmanageable and is especially difficult to deal with on portable devices due to lack of storage available (your standard audio CD fits at most 80 minutes of raw audio data on it), but mp3 allows storage of about 10 times raw audio data into memory of same size (thatís over 800 minutes onto same 80 minute audio CD).
So whatís WMA? WMA files are Microsoftís equivalent of mp3 files, they offer slightly better compression (more music for your MB) and some additional built in copy-write protection for those over cautious record labels out there.
More and more mp3 players support WMA files these days so itís worth looking out for as there is a growing amount of music available for download on Internet in WMA format.
Audio Quality Ever since mp3ís started to show their face in early 90ís thereís been a constant argument about mp3 audio quality, with many strongly feeling mp3 compressions adversely affects quality of sound, whereas others argue that mp3 technology only removes sound data that cannot be heard by human ear, and so could not be of any lesser quality.
Iíve not personally noticed any real difference between two, with exception of badly compressed music files, although I can imagine on a fairly large setup for example, some of missing sound low frequency sound waves could possibly be missed because although you may not hear sounds, youíd definitely be feeling them!
What to look for in an mp3 player.
Memory Type There are currently two types of memory available in mp3 players, solid state and hard disk. Solid state memory is usually very fast and does not suffer from skips, where hard drive memory is like a small version of your personal computers main disk storage, although these are not supposed to suffer from skipping, Iíve personally known this to be a problem on certain models during a brisk walk or jog.
The main difference between two is size available, solid state players are currently ranging between about 256mb and 2Gb, whereas hard disk players have an average storage capacity of around 20Gb, over 10 times larger than solid state models.
So you ask, why would you bother with solid state memory? Well, itís usually a matter of price, you can pick up a 1Gb solid state mp3 player for under £50 these days but hard disk players start at around £130.