Buying my first MP3 player, advice needed!
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) - 11/19/07 6:18 AM
I never thought in my wildest dreams, I would be considering
a MP3 player for myself, but here I am asking for advice on
one. Every where I go, I can't help but see ads for the iPods
and I'm very curious if this is the right MP3 player for me.
I don't want to buy an iPod just because it is the trend as I
want to buy something that will last me in the long run. Is
the iPod really that popular that it is a must buy? Forgive me, as I'm completely new to this type of gadget and I want
something simple to use and has low learning curve. Can you
suggest a MP3 player that will be small enough for me to
carry when I go for my daily walks? I also would like
something with a screen that will allow me to store pictures
of my kids, and one that has enough storage space for my
entire Beatles and Elvis CD collections. What are some things
that are a must to look for in a MP3 player and of course
what are things I should avoid or be aware of when I buy a
MP3 player? Any advice and recommendation will be helpful.
Submitted by: Nancy S.
Answer voted most helpful by the CNET Community newsletter readers:
Selecting a MP3 Player
Selecting a MP3 player can be a daunting task in today's market. The choices are staggering and it can lead to quite a bit of mental overload as one tries to wade through the myriad of options. I myself have been through the process of purchasing a MP3 player three times in the past three years and hope that some of my experiences will help you.
First, iPod is just one of many choices available to you. My first MP3 player was an iPod and I found it to be quite sufficient for my needs at that time. The current models are, from what I have read, quite competent music players and any one of the Nano models sound like they would meet your needs in that they are small enough to be carried around easily, will store and show pictures, and can hold your music collection with room to spare. In addition, the click wheel interface device is very easy to use and makes working with the Nano (and other Apple MP3 players) very simple. As you are a novice to the MP3 world I think you will find iTunes (the software needed to interact with the Nano) to probably be the best and easiest software with which to work. Not that there is anything wrong with the other options, but regardless of folks feelings about iPods (or Apple in general), iTunes has a solid reputation for ease-of-use, which would be good for someone with your lack of MP3 experience. Keep in mind though that Apple MP3 players must be used with iTunes - you cannot use their MP3 players with other software. Apple uses a closed system to ensure reliable performance between the requisite software and the MP3 player. This is neither good nor bad, but important to understand up front.
However, Apple isn't the only manufacturer of MP3 players and other companies make very good products as well. I'm particularly partial to Creative Lab products and currently own two (a hard-drive based unit as well as a flash-based one). My flash-based player would also serve your music, photographs and portability needs quite readily (it is the Zen V Plus). However, I am not as happy with their bundled software, which must be installed for use with their MP3 players. However, you do not have to continue to use their software if you simply want to load music & pictures onto your player. Other media player software options are available, including the well known Windows Media Player. Personally I don't think Windows Media Player is as intuitive as iTunes, but it's not difficult either. It is, in my opinion, simply not as polished. However, and as previously stated, you are not locked in to using the software which came with the player or with Windows Media Player. Other software is available on the Internet and much of it is free and will work quite fine with most any MP3 player other than ones from Apple.
Of course, there are other companies such as Microsoft, Archos, Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, Cowon, iRiver, and Rio just to name a few. And many of these afore-mentioned companies make very good MP3 players, but some simply lack name recognition in the market place. Searching for reviews on sites such as CNET can go far to helping provide you with an idea as to whether or not they meet your wants and desires.
As far as sound is concerned, that is always a matter of personal preference and can be very much impacted by the headphones that come bundled with whatever player you ultimately purchase. I think most persons would agree that purchasing an after market pair of headphones will do the most to improve sound quality as most players, across manufacturers, generally sound good to great, but that the bundled headphones are typically rather mediocre. Naturally, a feature that may be of interest to you would be the ability to modify the sound by using an equalizer, which would allow you to boost or attenuate a relatively narrow band of music frequencies. Some players include pre-set equalizer settings, while others include both pre-sets and the ability to allow you to create your own special setting (and to save it for use again and again).
Lastly, pictures are really nothing more than a different type of file when compared to music files. You can transfer picture files as readily to most MP3 players as you can music files. Again, the software you use will be important because some software is easier to work with than others. You shouldn't have any difficulty loading your player with pictures of family and friends, but be certain to look carefully at pictures that are preloaded on many MP3 players so that you can compare and contrast the quality of the image between players while you are looking them over before buying.
I sincerely hope any of this information helps you in your research and best of luck selecting a player.
Submitted by CNET member forkboy
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