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Digital Audio Player Basics

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals
 
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Q:
What should I look for in a digital audio player?

A:
As MP3 players and iPods gain in popularity you may be dizzy from the amount of choices as you consider jumping on the bandwagon. To help you along, here are some features to consider:

1. Does it allow multiple formats? Sure you primarily download MP3 files, but you may have WMA (Windows Media) or Ogg Vorbis files that you would also like to hear.

2. Is it hard drive or flash-based? The flash-based are smaller and more expensive but have fewer mechanical parts and are less prone to skipping. Hard drive based players have a little hard disk–while they hold gigs of music and are cheaper, you due run the risk of skipping, (though I haven’t heard any complaints form iPod users about this).

3. Will it work as a voice recorder? This may not be important to you, but sometimes you may need to record your thoughts rather than write them down. Wouldn’t it be nice to just whip out your digital audio player and record for later?

4. Find out how long it can go without new batteries or a recharge. If you’re going on a trip you don’t want your 5000 song play list to stop after a few hours.

5. See if it has a “Line Out” so you can hook it up to your stereo so you can blare your favorite tunes at maximum volume.

6. Can the player be expanded? Some players have a port that allows you to use memory cards (like Smart Disk) for additional music storage.

7. What kind of accessories are available. You may want to personalize your player or plug it into a docking station.

8. Can the player be used for data storage/transfer. Let’s say you have a project you need to take home but you’re out of disks, wouldn’t it be nice to plug in your MP3 player and use it as an external hard drive?

Keeping these points in mind can help you select the digital audio player that’s right for you. Just buying the most popular or the cheapest may not suit your needs.

~ David

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