GET YOUR BEAT ON! – Guide to Buy Portable Music Player
Buying a portable music player is not as simple as it sounds, but it should be considerably easier if you follow Connect’s guidelines on what to look out for when shopping for the music player that suits your budget, your tastes and, most importantly, your needs.
Before you’ve even hit the shops, it’s a good idea to think about where you’ll be using your music player the most. If you’re interested in getting something to play music while you exercise, for instance, you’re best off with a music player that doesn’t have a hard drive. These have small moving parts that can’t withstand sharp jolts like those experienced while running, so active people are far better off with a fl ash memory-based player that tends to be thin and lightweight and therefore easy to wear in arm bands or pockets.
BIGGER IS BETTER
Music lovers with large music collections should consider players with the largest capacities. This ensures that no matter the number of music files you own, your player can play them on demand, wherever you are. In fact, regardless of how much music you have, we advise that you buy the player with the biggest storage capacity your budget allows, because even though you may not need it all right away, you’ll be grateful for the extra space as your library grows.
Since sound quality is the feature you’ll be getting the most exposure to, we advise that you listen to each prospective player closely before making up your mind. You’ll soon notice that not all music players sound the same; we therefore recommend you purchase the device with the best sound quality that your budget will allow.
YOU AND I AND THE UI
The user interface is arguably the second-most important feature, after sound quality. If at all possible, try out your desired device’s interface in-store, or ask a sales person to demonstrate it to you. Since you’re going to be getting so much use out of your music player, it makes sense to get one with a simple interface that makes sense to you, and that you enjoy navigating.
WATCH THOSE FORMATS
While all music players support the common MP3 fi le format, it’s a good idea to check that your player of choice supports whatever other formats your music is saved in. If, for example, you prefer Microsoft’s WMA format, the AAC format (MP3’s successor, with superior overall quality) or the strangely named Ogg Vorbis audio format, it’s essential to check that your desired device supports them. Head on over to the manufacturer’s website to double check.
The device’s screen is also important if it supports video playback. You don’t want a screen that’s too small, or too fuzzy, as that will cramp your style considerably. It also makes showing off your favourite pictures, which most music players also support, a somewhat embarrassing aff air if the screen’s quality is not up to standard. If video playback or photo viewing is not a priority, players with belowpar screens or even no screen at all will do the job perfectly well.
Portable Music Players
GETTING SONGS ONTO THE DEVICE
Moving songs between your PC and your music player is central to your overall experience, so be sure the player you choose has an easy way to do this. Most applications take a bit of getting used to as the Digital Rights Management technology that ships with each to prevent piracy dictates that there has to be a ‘certain way’ of getting content on and off a mobile device. iTunes, Apple’s content management software, is among the worst off enders, intimidating new users with a way of doing things that isn’t immediately obvious.
GO GO GADGET RADIO
When you’ve exhausted your entire music collection, or you’re just tired of it, it’s nice to be able to tune in to the radio station of your choice for some alternative listening. Having a built-in FM radio isn’t an essential feature; it’s just nice to have. Especially if you’re trying to follow the cricket and the boss refuses to let you bring a TV to work.
If you hate scratches, or if you’re insistent on keeping your gadgetry pristine, then you’ll definitely want a player that comes with a carry case or some form of covering. Most won’t come with a case, though, so you may want to select a player with easily-available accessories. Apple’s iPod range has the widest selection of accessories, plus they look as good as the player itself does.
WIRED FOR SOUND
While most manufacturers do their best to include good headphones with their players, they don’t always succeed. We highly recommend that you also purchase a very comfortable set of headphones to use with your new music player; if you like the in-ear variety, make sure you get ones with a soft, flexible rubber earpiece that contours to the shape of your earhole for maximum comfort. This helps to block out most external noise, too, managing to even block out the sound of aircraft engine noise on long fl ights. Over-the-ear headphones are capable of excellent quality, but they are bulky, making them awkward to carry around. Our advice is to get a high-quality over-the-ear set for home listening, and in-ear ‘phones for when you’re out and about.
Shopping for a music player should definitely be done with eyes wide open; we’re confident that if you take into account all that we’ve discussed here, you’ll end up with a device that you’ll be happy with for years. Here in the Connect offices, we’re big iPod fans (Nano, Classic, Touch… we don’t care, they are all awesome!), but other, less expensive options are out there that also do a good job, so you needn’t be forced into buying an iPod if they’re not your cup of tea. iPods do, however, manage to get most of the categories we’ve discussed ‘just right’.