MP3 Player Buying Guide


MP3 Player Choices


Acquiring the ideal MP3 player is not as easy as you think. Factors such as size, storage capacity, additional functions and price will cause you headache when making your decision. Fortunately, there are many MP3 players that accommodate to everyone’s need. Even the popular MP3 player manufacturer, Apple Inc., has iPods that come with masses amounts of colours, sizes and functions.


In this guide, we will categorize MP3 players into Hard-drive and Flash-based players. We will also explain the features of MP3, different usages, music compatibility, and the accessories you may want to buy to juice up your music player.


First, let’s look at the differences between Hard-drive MP3 players and Flash-based players.


Hard-drive-based players


A decent Hard-drive player can definitely hold all the songs you have in your PC. Large players such as the 120GB Apple iPod Classic can hold about 30,000 songs.


Pros: You can store all your songs in a single device. With more features and bigger screens, they are generally easy to use. On top of that, high-capacity players are comparatively cheaper than Flash-based players in terms of price per gigabyte (S$400 for 120GB iPod Classic versus S$330 for 16gb iPod Nano).


Cons: These players have a built-in 1.8-inch hard drive; therefore, they are bulk and heavy. Also, hard drives have moving parts, so they are not suitable for demanding physical activities. Lastly, most Hard-drive players use rechargeable batteries that you cannot change on your own, so after few years, you most likely have to buy a new model or pay to get the battery replaced.

Flash-based players


The initial MP3 player design, there is no moving parts and they are celebrated for their shockproof operation and miniature size. Players range in capacity from 512MB to 32GB. SanDisk’s MP3 product line, for example, comprises of entirely flash-based players.


Pros: Flash-based players are small and light. Without any moving parts, batteries last longer, and you can do all sorts of physical exercises without causing skipping or damage. Many Flash-based players incorporate lots of additional deatures such as voice and line-in recording.


Cons: The abovementioned extras functions can make Flash-based players a bit harder to use. Because of the small size, most Flash-based players tend to have smaller screens and some without any sort of display. Finally, they have the highest per-gigabyte cost and max out at 32GB.


How can I use my MP3 player


Recently, MP3 producers are adding tonnes of extra features to their players to differentiate from the competitors. Here are some of the extra functions you may want to consider.


Colour screens, photo viewing, and video playback


Majority of the players come with a colour screen that can display digital images. Other than viewing pictures, colour screens are easier to make out than their colourless equivalents. Although the screens are usually too small for a comfortable view of video playback, it is a nice addition, especially during long rides.




Other than listening to your own music, most MP3 players also have FM radio reception. Other features related to this include FM recording and presets. Some even allow transmission for playing music through home or car stereo wirelessly.


Wireless capability


A feature that you will see in top MP3 manufacturers is wireless capability. A fine example is the use of Wi-Fi. Microsoft Zune lets any users in range to share files with each other using Wi-Fi. SanDisk Sansa Connect uses Wi-Fi in a different way, users can access the Yahoo Music store for songs purchase and downloading. Other than Wi-Fi, some MP3 players also have Bluetooth capability. This means players can be linked with a wireless headphones for cord-free listening.



Audio recording


Although most MP3 players have audio recording functions, only few have an analog line-input for recording high-quality audio. Other players have a small, unpowered microphone for live recording. For high quality recording, make sure the player can record to uncompressed WAV files.



Data storage


If you do not want to get additional device for data storage, you can use your MP3 player. Because some players do not require any installation, it means you can transfer your files to other computers. Furthermore, some players have built-in USB connectors, so you do not even need a cable.


Personal Notebook


Apple iPod and Creative’s Zen MP3 players can act as your personal information management; they can sync phone books and schedules from your PC where you can view it but you will not be able to change it with the player. Although limited, this is still a nice add on to MP3 players.


Picking the perfect player


Of course, none of the manufacturers managed to produce the perfect MP3 player for everyone yet, so we will just have to choose the player that meets our needs.


To suit different usage, some people will consider buying more than one player. For example, you would need a lightweight compact Flash-based player for exercising and a Hard-drive player for data storage or long rides.


But not everyone needs to have more than one player. If you simply want a play for general use, any of the top MP3 brands should be suitable for you.




If you are traveling by car, you should look for Hard-drive players, since size or weight should not be a factor here, and it is cheaper in terms of capacity. You can also connect the player to your car stereo with transmitter, adapter or even through Bluetooth. However, if you are traveling via bus or MRT, a Flash-based player is more suitable because it is small and lightweight. For better listening enjoyment, get a pair of noise-canceling headphones.




If you like to work out or perform strenuous activities while listening to music, Flash-based players are perfect for you. Because they are light and compact, they are easy to control with one hand. You may also want a armband and a pair of good earphones that will stay in place.




If you are always traveling, you will need a MP3 player that provides your journey with entertainment. If you travel with your laptop, which has your music, a compact Flash-based player would suffice. Otherwise, a Hard-drive MP3 player that can hold huge amount of songs is better.




Audiobooks are becoming popular recent years so it is not hard to find a suitable MP3 player for listening to one. However, makes sure that the player have bookmarking feature, you would not want to fast-forward through long audio files.


Video playback


Although the screens are too small for an absolute video watching, it is a nice bonus from many users. If you are looking for substitutes for portable video players, which are usually heavy and bulky, look for players with at least 2-inches diagonal.