Basic MP3 players with 1GB or 2GB capacities are available for under £10. A good-quality 8GB player costs around £30 and can store thousands of MP3s encoded at 192Kbit/s. Most small MP3 players use solid-state flash memory for storage. This is immune to shocks, knocks and bumps, making such players ideal for use while jogging, for example.
If you want to carry your entire music collection with you, look for a high-capacity player. The highest-capacity models can hold up to 160GB of media and usually have a compact 1in or 1.8in hard disk. However, high-capacity MP3 players are available with flash memory storage up to 64GB, while others accept microSDXC cards to upgrade their storage by as much as 128GB. Hard disk players are bulkier than flash-based devices and are more likely to be damaged if dropped.
It’s unusual for an MP3 player to have a battery life of less than 10 hours, with the exception of a few ultra-compact sports players. Ideally, you should buy one that lasts at least 15 hours. Flash-based players tend to use less power than hard disk players, but many hard disk players have larger batteries. Few modern MP3 players use disposable batteries, but it’s worth looking for one if you’ll be away from a power supply for long periods.
If you download music from online – stores, make sure your player supports the appropriate formats. Apple’s iTunes store sells tracks in AAC format, while other stores use Microsoft’s WMA-DRM, and Audible’s audiobooks use the proprietary AU format. Not all players support a wide range of formats. If you want to listen to music in unusual formats such as Ogg or FLAC, for example, you need a player that supports them.
Many MP3 players can also play – – video. Although they come with software to convert video to their preferred format, some are more flexible than others when it comes to file formats, so check the specifications before you buy.
If you want to use your MP3 player – 2 for games and apps, you’ll have to buy a touchscreen player that runs Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android. These tend to be expensive, but you can expect a battery life of over 22 hours for music and a wealth of features beyond simple audio playback.