So you’re in the gym and see nearly everyone with some device strapped his or her arm. It looks like the remote control to your kid’s TV. The guy in the cube next to you at work always has his headphones on, his fingers drumming to a raucous beat that only he can hear. You take the kids to visit your mom and she even has one. What’s the world coming to? Are you the only person without one of those MP3 things? What’s it all about? Where did they come from? What are the differences between the MP3 players and how much do they cast? Well, you’ve come to the right place to get the knowledge you need and the player you want.
The History of the MP3
Many years ago in a galaxy far away, well actually less than 20 years ago and in Munich, Germany, the Moving Picture Expert Group Layer III (MP3) was created. The folks at the Franunhofer Institute began researching this technology in the late 1980s. In 1989 they received a German patent for the MP3, and in 1996 the United States issued a patent for the MP3. Within a couple years the whole world began to see MP3 music, and players began popping up everywhere.
Which MP3 Player is for you?
With hundreds of MP3 players on the market, finding the one that meets your needs can be a confusing and daunting experience. So we’re here to help you simplify the process. When choosing your MP3 player, there are several factors you must consider before you purchase, including features, capacity, size, and type of player.
Lets start with which type of player fits your lifestyle and needs. You’ll find two types of MP3 players on the market today — Flash Memory and Hard Disk Drive players. There is a distinctive difference between these two types of players and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Lets begin with the Flash Memory player.
Flash Memory MP3 players
If you like to workout, jog or you’re always on the move, the Flash Memory player is your best choice because it is skip-free. The Flash MP3 player has no moving parts, so when you’re jogging or working out, you’ll hear your favorite tune without interruption or skipping. What is also great about Flash Memory MP3 players is that normally they are small – small enough to fit on your key ring or fit into the 5th pocket of your favorite pair of jeans. The internal memory can range from 16 MB to over 10 GB. The larger the storage space, the more music you can store and the more expensive the player becomes. Another feature that you should consider is the display. It’s great to be able to see the artist, title and battery power on your MP3 player. Having a color LCD makes it easier to be able to find that perfect song for the perfect moment. While shopping for your MP3 player, try looking for an MP3 player that also has an FM Tuner to give you even more listening variety. You can also find Flash Memory MP3 players with voice recording capabilities. Many manufacturers now include this feature. Also, don’t forget about the freebies. Some manufacturers include armbands, belt clips and high-quality headphones. Several choices on the market today for Flash Memory MP3 players are from manufacturers such as Delstar, Diablo Tek, iRiver and Mach Speed – all of which you can find right here on our site.
Hard Disk Drive MP3 Players
If you have a huge music collection and you want to take it with you wherever you go, then the Hard Disk Drive MP3 player would be ideal. Many Hard Disk Drive MP3 players have enough storage capacity (ranging from 2GB to more than 60GB) to allow you to listen to music for days without hearing the same song twice. Another great feature of the Hard Disk Drive MP3 player is that you usually get a larger display. When making your choice try to find a MP3 player with a color display, the hard disk drive players give you a more vibrant picture and are easier to view. A good display is especially critical when you’re searching through your ever-expanding playlist. An additional advantage of the hard disk player is that you can also use your MP3 player as a photo viewer. Some Hard Disk Drive MP3 players also have features such as FM Tuner and Voice recorder. Keep in mind that the larger the storage space, the more music you can store and the more expensive the player will be. Several choices on the market today for Hard Disk MP3 players are Apple’s iPod, Creative Labs’ Zen, Toshiba’s Gigabeat and Archos’ Gmini.
Where Do You Get Music For Your MP3 Player?
The first place to get music for your new MP3 player is your own music collection. There are hundreds of free, trial or paid-for CD rippers / encoders on the Internet today that allow you to transfer your music from CD to PC then to your MP3 player. You probably already own one ripper / encoder — the Windows Media Player. Windows Media Player will allow you to record your CDs, save them on your PC and transfer them to you MP3 player. This is great if you only want to take your current music collection with you. But what if you want your music collection, as well as latest tunes or the hard to find classic? You can try searching in various music stores, markets and garage sales for CDs, or you can search on the Internet using an online music store.
There are several online music stores available today. These stores offer thousands and some stores even millions of songs for purchase and download – LEGALLY. When choosing your online music store, there are many factors you need to consider. These factors are – price per download or monthly subscription, free trial periods, songs in music services and parental controls if you have children. Some online music online stores charge less than a dollar per song download and others offer a subscription per month for as many songs as you want to download. Keep in mind that it may be more beneficial for you to register on more than one online store – being that you may not find that special song on one service but it may be available on another.
What’s Here Today And What Will Be Here Tomorrow?
With technology evolving every day, an MP3 player that’s cutting edge at the moment might seem like a relic tomorrow. So there are always new and better models on the horizon! One sophisticated MP3 player that is available today is the light (1.41 oz) and thin (.26 inch) iPod Nano. The Nano has a 1.5 inch liquid crystal display, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB Flash Memory and has plenty of outstanding extras such as multiple language settings, calendar, stopwatch, and it can display your photos, audiobooks and hold anywhere from 500 to 2,000 songs, depending on the size of Flash Memory.
In direct competition to Apple’s iPod, Microsoft has developed the Zune ™ digital media player. Features of the Zune include a 30 GB Hard Disk Drive, WiFi (802.11 b/g), 3 inch high-resolution LCD, FM Tuner and has the ability to playback WMA, MP3, AAC, JPEG and MPEG-4 files. You’ll be hearing more about the Zune as Microsoft ratchets up its marketing machine.
What’s The Bottom Line?
The bottom line is that you have a huge choice of MP3 players. Depending on how active your life style is, an MP3 player with Flash Memory may be the better option for you. And there are options like color displays, Voice Recorder and FM Tuner also available. If you want to carry your music collection, FM Tuner and view photos / video – look for a Hard Disk Drive MP3 player.
Popular Download Sites
You have your choice of several online music stores where you can purchase MP3 music files. They all vary in layout, interface and cost. All are legal downloads once purchased. Below are some of the more popular sites. Take your pick and get ready to rock!
Apple iTunes Music Store has more than 1.5 million tracks from all four major music companies, pre-release, rare, out-of-print and exclusive tracks are available for US99 cents each (US$10 average for complete albums, mp3 audio books also available). Enjoy 30-second song previews along with radio station and video streaming and the newly added free podcast subscription. Burn as many CD’s as you want or download files into the iPod (but not most other portables). The iTunes player is available free for both Mac and Windows.
EMusic.com service offers regular MP3 files, which are not restricted or copy-protected. Buy an entire CD, or just the tracks you want! Short samples of each track are provided. Great selection; more than 500,000 tracks from the world’s leading independent labels – music in every genre from both established and emerging artists. Free 14-day trial with 50 free downloads (with membership subscription – can cancel any time during trial). Prices start at US$9.99/month for 40 downloads.
Napster is now bigger, better, more improved and most importantly – LEGAL. Napster offers a pay-per-download or a monthly subscription priced at $9.95. Napster offers more than 2 million songs online for download, personalized recommendations and charts and a option called XM + Napster. With the XM + Napster membership, you can listen to over 75 XM Radio Online music channels and download your favorite songs. Napster is also capable of working with Windows XP Media Center Edition. A great feature available to parents is the ability to have parental controlled access to explicit material. Unfortunately, Napster will not work with your iPod. Again, you’ll have to convert your audio file formats to VBR, ACC or AIFF.
MusicMatch has long been known for its music jukebox software for creating and organizing MP3s. Built into Musicmatch Jukebox 10 (requires download), the Musicmatch Music Store features an extensive library of music you can purchase for US99 cents each or US$9.99 for most albums (it is currently available only to US residents). You can now browse their catalog prior to downloading the software. Offers similar features to iTunes and Napster.
The makers of the RealPlayer and Listen.com’s Rhapsody Online Radio service have finally combined services to offer Rhapsody. With unrestricted access to over 1,000,000 songs and pre-programmed/customizable radio stations, this digital music service compares quite well in service to Napster. Rhapsody offers a 14-day trial period followed by a US$9.99/month subscription with a 10% savings on all music purchases. U.S. residents only service.
Virgin Digital offers a service called Red Pass. Red Pass is offered as a monthly subscription for $14.99 after your free trial period. The service offers unlimited streaming and downloading of music and has a library of over 15,000 record labels. Virgin also offers Free Music Insurance. If somehow you hard drive dies, with a click of a button you can reload all of the music you purchased from Virgin Digital -FREE. Virgin Digital is only compatible with Windows 2000 and XP and is not compatible with iTunes or Apple iPod. Currently, Red Pass does not support Parental Controlled Access for explicit lyrics and is not enhanced for Windows XP Media Center Edition.