If you’re trying to decide on an MP3 player and you find yourself a little confused by the huge variety of products and MP3 player accessories on the market—don’t worry. You’re not alone. The last few years have seen huge growth in the market for these popular, portable music sources. But once you know a little about the various types of devices and their capabilities, you can choose the MP3 player that is right for your use and your budget.
Hard Drive Based MP3 Players
The first main type is the hard drive based MP3 player. These are the highest capacity devices, starting at 20 GB of memory and going up from there. A hard drive based player, as the name indicates, contains its own hard drive and can probably hold every song you own. These players also tend to have larger screens, more features, and are easier to use—some even play videos. As you might expect, they also cost more, starting around $200 for the less expensive models, and going up to $400 or more at the top end.
Micro Hard Drive mp3 Players
These devices offer some of the features and memory capability of a hard drive MP3 player, but at a slightly lower price and with greater portability. Their miniature hard drives yield decent memory (up to 12 GB), and they still have many features to offer. Recently, these “micro-drive” players have begun to be phased out in favor of the high-capacity flash-based players (below), but good models with lots of features are still available in the $150-$250 price range.
Flash Based Mp3 Players
Flash-based MP3 players have no moving parts, so they’re perfect to take jogging, hiking, or anywhere you want to be active. They’re also smaller than either of the two other types, and can be pretty inexpensive—some models can be purchased for less than $30. Low memory used to be a problem, but advances in technology have changed this. Now most flash players sport at least 512 MB of memory. The downside of a flash MP3 player is that it tends to be less feature-rich than other types, and it can be a bit more difficult to use. Don’t expect to find a flash based MP3 player with more than 8 GB of memory.
MP3 CD Players
Though these are becoming rarer these days, you can still find MP3 players that play data CDs with music on them—and they can play your music CDs, too. You can fit about 10 albums’ worth of music (approximately 150 MP3 files) on a 650 MB disk.