MP3 Players

Over the past couple of weeks we have looked at using your computer to experiment with music recording and playback through the use of music files known as MP3’s and the use of writers that can copy these tracks to CD’s.

The principle was that to listen to your music in the car, you would download MP3’s onto your computer from the Internet and copy them on to a CD.Alternatively if you wanted to make your own mix then you could copy specific tracks off a number of CD’s and group them all together for recording onto a CD.

This seems to me slightly wasteful however.If you consider a guy in America who records a song from an uncopyrighted CD and compresses it down into MP3 format so that it can be transferred across the Internet but then as soon as you receive it you uncompress it again, converting it back into CD format so it can be transferred to your car.There is a lot of double handling going on and in addition, instead of having a nice little 4 Megabyte MP3 file that your computer recognises, it is necessary to convert it back into a huge 80 Megabyte file so that your CD player can understand it.In order to prevent this, there are a number of products coming onto the market that play MP3’s directly without the need to convert the music back into the clumsy CD format each working in a slightly different way.

Firstly, there’s the portable MP3 player.This is a small unit around the size of a portable minidisk player.Basically you plug the player into your home PC and the copy any MP3’s over that you think you may want to listen to whilst you’re out.Typically these players can store between 3 and 12 hours of music in their internal memory, although there are several on the market that contain a huge hard disk which can store 100’s of hours worth of CD quality music.Obviously it is preferable to have 10 albums worth of music all stored on the same player than to carry around 10 different CD’s and cases.

These units typically cost between around £80 and £500 depending on the amount of capacity you require.

Next you have the CD MP3 player.This device is able to read normal CD’s but it addition it can also read CD’s written with compressed MP3 files stored on them; this subsequently increases the CD’s capacity from around 74 minutes of music straight up to around 20 hours or so.As stated above, this is due to the fact that a normal song stored in CD format would be around 80 megabytes in size but due to the fact that MP3 files weigh in at around 4 Megabytes it is possible to store so much more information when a CD is written in this manner.One of these devices would typically cost you around £120 or so; not a great deal more than a good quality normal CD-player.

Finally I would like to introduce you to the unit that I would like to get for my car one day.Quite simply it’s a drive that slots as normal into your car dashboard but to put music onto it you slot the drive out from its mounts and connect it to your home computer.This isn’t as stupid as it sounds as you can typically store around 170 hours worth of music onto the unit which by my calculations equates to approximately 150 albums.Therefore you could quite happily put your entire music collection onto the drive and never have to worry about scratching your CD’s or having to change them while driving.The big downside to this is definitely its price which is around the £800 or so mark!

Obviously there are a fair number of different manufacturers and so I invite you to have a look at their websites in order to have a look at some pictures of these units as well as their respective prices.The primary manufacturers of these style units would be Diamond (www.diamondmm.com), Sony (www.sony.com) and Creative (www.creative.com).There are several other manufacturers and I would recommend looking at their products from an independent retailer such as Dabs (www.dabs.com).

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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