If you’re ready to ditch the Walkman and go high-tech with your portable music needs, you’re probably in the market for an MP3 player. For the non-gadget geeks among us, selecting a digital music player involves navigating some choppy waters. It’s easy to get bowled over by the waves of new technology—shuffles, nanos…where do you start?
As with any purchase, you can start by assessing your needs. There are three major types of MP3 players: flash, microdrive, and hard drive. Each has its pros and cons, many of which are dependent upon how you plan to use your MP3 player.
First, think about the size of your music collection. Do you have a modest sized collection of just your all-time faves or are you the live-for-music type who’s first in line when a new CD comes out? At most, a flash MP3 player will hold the equivalent of approximately 20 CDs. This size could be just right for people who plan to use their MP3 players mainly for their daily workouts.
The microdrive is the middle ground. They hold anywhere from 50 to 120 CDs. For the majority of us, a microdrive is big enough to hold most every song we want. If not, then you want the hard drive MP3 player. These puppies will hold your entire collection—as many as 1200 CDs.
The size and weight of each type of MP3 player corresponds with the amount of music it can hold. A hard drive is going to be bigger and heavier than a flash player. Price works the same way. You’ll pay more for a player that holds more. You can get a flash MP3 player for less than $150, a minidrive for $150-250, and a hard drive for $250 and up.
Next, think about where you’ll be taking your MP3 player. For example, if you want something you can listen to at the gym, a flash player might be the right choice because it tends to be lighter. A hard drive player would be bulky and heavy, at least in relation to a workout.
The flash is also a good choice for someone who wants something to listen to for short periods of time, such as during a commute. If you’ll be listening to your MP3 player for hours on end, you’ll want something that holds more music. It won’t take long to go through the 20 CDs worth of songs on a flash. A minidrive is a good compromise. It’s relatively small and light, but still holds enough music to prevent your favorite song from becoming your least favorite song because you’ve listened to it 30 times.
We’ve said that the hard drive MP3 player is bigger and heavier than the other two kinds. That’s only relatively speaking, of course. It’s hardly like lugging around a concrete block. If you want all your music with you all the time, a hard drive is the way to go. For instance, this type of player is good for someone who goes on long trips without access to their collection for switching out songs.