MP3/MP4 Player Buying Guide

One of the most revolutionary finds of the late times as far as carrying one’s music to wherever he/she wants, MP3/MP4 players are the new generation walkmans, and are changing the way we have been carrying music since day one. Despite there being numerous innovations pertaining to the size, number of formats compatible, and so on, there are some basics that need to be clear before one actually goes to buy an MP3/MP4 player.

MP3 and MP4


The primary reasons of the popularity of MP3/MP4 players are their fantastic sound quality, good storage capacities, portability, and ease-of-use. There are many top-notch brands that are today offering their own versions of these players with varied functionalities.


MP3 is basically a music compression format for storing songs digitally. The main benefit of this compression is that it gives quality that is only a tad lower than an audio CD but drastically reduces the file size, so that the same can be stored in lesser space on a portable device. Further, another benefit of MP3 songs is that unlike CDs, the quality of songs does not go down after repeated plays.


MP4 players, a relatively newer technology, have more capacity than MP3 players, thus allowing you to store more songs. One can also store photos and video clips in the portable device.



Types of players


  • Flash Memory players


These kind of players are very compact and lightweight, and have no moving parts. The conventional means of transferring or uploading music in them is via plugging into a USB port in the PC and going ahead with the transfer. However, there is a drawback when it comes to the storage space front, as it is mostly only upto 8GB.


  • Hard disk drive players


High on storage capacity, these type of players are ideal for taking an entire compendium of all your music collection in your pocket. They also have much simper interfaces, and are priced according to the storage space they provide, i.e., a 32 GB player would cost more than a 16 GB one. Further, more memory size also increases the weight, but it’s never too bulky to be non-portable.


Points to consider




The definitive pricing factor for many MP3/MP4 players, memory, unlike what electronic store owners and websites will tell you, is not always a matter of bigger is better. Simply put, if you are not going to carry songs more than half the capacity of your player’s hard drive, then it’s simply not worth it. Approximately, 1MB space gives you 1 minute of playback time, which means that a 4GB MP3 player is going to hold around 1,000 songs. So, in case your media requirement is not close to 2 GB in one go, no point going for a higher capacity player, since you will only be wasting your money. A player having a lower capacity also is not too bad, since you can easily connect it to a PC and change the songs.


Battery life


Battery life is one of the most important aspects of an MP3/MP4 player, since if your batteries run out in a couple of hours, then even the most expensive and multi-format supportive players with the maximum storage capacity are useless. Manufacturer claims are not at all reliable in this regard, since there are many ‘terms and conditions’ that apply in this regard. Comparatively, flash players are lower on battery consumption compared to the hard disk drive ones. Further, players with a Li-Ion battery give around 10-15 hours of continuous playback time. Better output can be derived out of disposable AA or AAA cells, although that is certainly a more expensive proposition. Further, MP4 players that have screens included in the player consume more battery. Hence, one should keep in mind these factors while purchasing the player.


Which player to choose?


Depending on your requirements, you need to prioritize which features you would like most in your MP3/MP4 player. Following are some broad classifications :


Entertainment purposes

If you want movies, videos, photos and similar files in your player, and not just audio files, having a player that has a good screen size (around 3 inches is decent enough). A memory size of more than 8 GB should do the trick.


Music addicts


For those who want a player exclusively for listening to music, a flash player can also do, depending on the number of tracks you want to carry, as it would also give you more battery life. One can also go for hard disk players in case there is requirement to carry more songs.


Fitness freaks


For those who want to listen to music while exercising, jogging or cycling, flash players are the perfect choice, since they don’t have any moving parts, and can withstand minor accidental falls, which are likely in such an environment. Further, a 1 GB player can probably get you more than 300 songs, more than enough for one session!


Techno lovers


Some of the latest players have Wi-Fi capabilities, which allows the user to stay connected with the internet. So in case you love technology, these kinds of players are for you.


Extensive travelers


Long battery life is the number one priority for those who travel a lot. In this regard, Flash players take the cake as against the hard disk drive ones. One can also go for players that have the provision of a disposable battery.


Additional features


Many of the latest players are much more than what has been described above in terms of features, thanks to the rate at which technology is expanding its avenues. Today, besides video MP3 players with LCD, you can have touch screen video MP3 players with Built-in WiFi for seamless internet connectivity on the go. Further, there are also MP3 players coming with Pedometer and heart rate monitor for those of you who are health conscious. Some select models even feature the provision of listening to the radio. Recording MP3 players are also available, that allow the user to record voices and songs with the help of a small microphone attached to the device. Many players are equipped with games, for that extra level of entertainment! All in all, it’s not only about playing your favorite media files, as the latest MP3 players can easily offer you much more than that.

So that’s it, a compendium of all the types of players, and all there is to know to make the right choice. Do remember to consider your requirements and usage before finalizing on one player.