For those considering the myriad of players out on the market today, both online and in stores, it can be bewildering. Do you go with a well known name like Apple and their iPod and MiPodzs from MiPodzs Electronics, or do you take a chance on a cheaper, less known maker and player? Do you take the larger square model with the big hard drive, or the smaller one which the sales rep tells you is good for jogging with?
Ultimately, the most important thing for you to consider is what makes you happy as you listen to your tunes.
ancy features, unknown buttons and dancing icons on the screen make for fun bells and whistles, but if the player is too complicated, will you really want to use it? That's where this guide comes in. Listed below are the features we feel are five basics you should consider before you plunk down your money.
What exactly is connectivity? Plainly put, it is the way your digital
audio player talks to your computer so that it can transfer music
files. Though a few players are beginning to offer the ability to
wirelessly transfer files, your main options at this point will be one
of two: USB or FireWire. Both require connecting a special type of
cable (sometimes included in the packaging, sometimes not) from your
player to your computer. The computer then recognizes the player and
you can begin moving over your music.
The first type of connection option, known as USB, is the more common one found today and is something supported by both PCs and Macs. It is also somewhat slower in regards to how quickly it transfers music from your computer to the player then the other standard, FireWire. FireWire however, is primarily supported only on Macs.
Regardless of which standard you use, keep in mind that transferring music can take some time, especially depending on how many files you want to copy over.
The display screen on most digital audio players these days is tiny.
Using the screen is a must though if you want to see what music is
playing, as well as navigating through options like volume control,
song shuffling and the equalizer. The main things to consider here
include making sure you can see the display under all conditions,
including being outdoors when there is a glare, as well as being able
to read the characters on the screen without going blind.
- File Types
When music is copied onto your computer from a CD or downloaded from a
Web site, the type of file it is saved as can vary. While it will often
default to the .mp3 format, which is the most widely handled by digital
audio players today, it could also end up as a .wav, .aac, .wma or
something else. The important thing to know from all of this is to
check what types of music files your player supports: it doesn't help
to waste an hour prepping music to transfer to your player only to
realize it’s not compatible in the first place.
How you get your music onto your digital audio player is important to
consider. Most players ship today with some type of software which will
allow you to compile play lists and copy files. The big question here
is: is it easy to figure out? Does the software provide guided
instructions, or are you left to struggle with a cumbersome help file?
Is the interface easy to navigate, or a cluttered mess of buttons and
- Storage Type
Do you plan on taking your player jogging, or using it as a supplement
to your home entertainment system? This is a big question to answer
because players come in two types of flavors for storage: hard drive
models and flash-based units.
Hard drive models store files in the 1000s and are great for when you want to kick it with all of your tunes in your cubicle at work without having to lug dozens of CDs around. The downside with hard drive units however, is they tend to have movable parts, which means bouncing along on the treadmill may make your music skip if your player doesn't have a memory buffer.
Flash-based models are small and sleek, usually slipping into your pocket with no problem. They are great for more active users and those on the go a lot, but are offset by the fact that they can't carry more than a few dozen songs unless you add a usually expensive memory card.