Check specifications of MP3 players before buying
Aug 24, 2008, 13:22 GMT
Norwegian goldsmith Thomas Heyerdah has designed what must be the worlds most expencive IPOD (MP3-player), in Oslo, Norway, 12 September 2007. The player is handmade with 18 carat gold and 430 diamonds at 4.30 carat. EPA/LISE ASERUD
Hamburg - The iPod may be the industry leader among MP3 players, but that does not mean it's right for you.
Before any major purchase, customers should consider what they want to do with their MP3 player. Christine Tantschinez of the Stuttgart-based magazine audio says a lot depends on an individual's needs. They determine the size of the device, the pre-packaged components and the price.
'If you just want music for jogging, then go for a very simple model,' she says. A display might not even be necessary and you could get away with relatively little memory - just two to four gigabytes.
Customers who want an MP3 player with pictures and movies to take on their travels should look for models with long battery lives. Models that play 20 hours of music are fairly common nowadays.
Tantschinez says the manufacturer's descriptions of their products are generally reliable.
A large display with improved contrast is important, if you plan to use the player as a digital photo album or a pocket cinema. The resolution should be at least 320X240 pixels. Lots of memory - from 16 GB on upward - is a must for such applications.
But it's also a good idea to ask yourself how much you really need to watch movies in this format. 'Video is a criteria for purchase, but it's seldom used,' says Wojtek Rudko, product manager at SanDisk, a manufacturer.
'Purchases are made based on functions. Whether that feature is used or not is often beside the point,' agrees Tim Bosenick, president of Sirvaluse, a Hamburg-based company that researches technical devices to determine how user-friendly they are.
User friendliness can suffer when an MP3 player has a lot of functions. When it comes to 'usability,' less is often more, added Bosenick.
Tantschinez adds that sound quality diminishes with every additional function. If you value sound and think you can live without a built-in UKW receiver, then you should do so, she notes.
Bosenick says touch-sensitive screens, like iPod's Touch, are often a plus. Such screens make it easier to modify a device to a user's individual preferences: displays only show functions that are actually used.
But a touch screen is not necessarily positive. Different models have varying levels of sensitivity to a user's touch, says Bosenick. That can lead to faulty service or accidental launches of nearby function fields.
The Clickwheel, also popularized by iPod, has become standard in multimedia players.
'But there have been some unfortunate copies,' says Bosenick and e recommends testing the controls before purchase.
Another possible annoyance occurs when an MP3 player can only upload music via one particular program. Apple's iPods only download music through iTunes. Other devices only allow their electronic libraries to be updated through a computer using a Windows operating system.
However, many manufacturers allow more accessibility. Many design their multimedia players so that music, pictures and movies can be dragged and dropped to their icon on a desktop via USB similar to an external hard drive, irrespective of the computer's operating system.
Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer reports agency, reviewed a series of MP3 players in late 2007. The review showed that all players had superior sound quality. But there were often problems with the accompanying earphones and the reviewers recommended buying additional, higher quality ones.
MP3 players for joggers, commuters and enthusiasts
JOGGERS: If you only need music to listen to while jogging or working out in a gym, take a look at the simplest model such as the following three:
- Samsung YP-U3JQ with 2GB of memory (40 euros or 60 dollars)
- Sansa Clip from SanDisk with 1.2 or 4 GB (35, 44 or 66 euros)
- Philips SA2640/02 with 4 GB (60 euros)
ENTHUSIASTS: These shoppers tend to have larger music collections as well as photos and video clips stored on their MP3 players. The following models might suit their needs:
- Apple iPod Classic with 16 GB (329 euros)
- Trekstor i.Beat move M with 8 GB (75 euros)
- Sony NWZ-A820 Walkman with 16 GB (240 euros)
COMMUTERS: Anyone who travels a lot and wants his music collection and a few favorite movies along for the ride, as well as being able to surf online should look at the following WLAN-ready models:
- Apple iPod touch with 32 GB (459 euros)
- Archos 605 Wifi with 80 GB (250 euros)