What You Need To Know Before Buying An MP3 Player
March 18, 2024

People have been buying and listening to music since the invention of the gramophone. But this was not enough — people also wanted to listen on the go without having a gramophone with them all the time. The solution: portable music players or PMPs as they are called today. These devices were mostly flash-based players in which you could put your CDs, but soon enough, these were outdated by more modern solutions. For example, Apple released its iPod in 2001, transforming the industry completely. People now wanted an entire digital library at their fingertips wherever they went. When high-capacity MP3 players started being released several years ago, the increase in quality over CD storage meant that enthusiasts could enjoy their music even if it weren’t compressed. Now we can carry our entire music library with us to any location and listen to the tracks whenever we like (unless your battery runs out, of course).

There are two types of MP3 players: dedicated and smartphones. Dedicated players do not run an operating system such as Android, iOS, or Windows Phone; they do one thing — play music — and they do it very well. On the other hand, smartphones provide many different functions such as voice calls, messaging, internet browsing, etc. They also allow you to listen to music through built-in speakers or headphones, but you can’t enjoy lossless audio files due to their low storage capacities and lack of appropriate hardware. You would need a microSD card for that, but then there is a chance that you might lose your data if the card ejects unexpectedly.

So now it’s probably clear what type of player would be best for you: a dedicated music player or even an iPod. But before rushing to buy one, make sure you consider these factors:

Storage capacity (flash/hard drive), battery life, connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro USB, etc.), size and weight, screen (size and resolution), format support (lossy and lossless), and price.

The first thing people ask themselves when buying an MP3 player is, “how much storage capacity do I need?” The answer depends on how many songs you want to carry around with you — we could say that 1 GB equals one CD. So if you have around 2 GB of music, an 8 GB player would probably be enough for your needs. A larger storage capacity is required if you want to store more than that, so a 128 GB player will get the job done. The same goes for weight and size — pick 2 or 3 models that best suit your needs and then compare their dimensions to find out which one fits better in your pocket (or wherever you plan on keeping it).

A common mistake people make when buying players with built-in screens is assuming they must require large batteries to support them; this isn’t necessarily true. When playing back videos on a screen, the power consumption also increases significantly because of both hardware and software demands (for example, amplifying the volume also requires the amplifier to use more power). But when you’re just listening to music with no video player in use, screen brightness and backlight frequency (how often they turn on) affect battery life a lot. For example, a PMP with a 4-inch screen that doesn’t have any backlight can have around five times longer battery life than its counterpart, which keeps it on 100% of the time.

There are two types of connectors for MP3 players: USB 2.0/3.0 and micro USB 2.0/3.0. The first one is used mostly by older models, but it’s still being manufactured for new products because of its simplicity and speed advantage over micro USB. But another thing it has going for is that you can plug a USB cable into your computer without having to take the player out of its case, unlike micro USB connectors that will only fit if the player is outside of its box.