MP3 players help those silent nights

Chad Waring

The holidays are coming up faster then ever, which means you’ll probably be going home and visiting all of your relatives. All those hours on the road or in the air can certainly add up – especially if you’re traveling with your family. One way to help time fly is to sit back and relax with some of your favorite music. To save your sanity this season, pick up a portable MP3 player.

You say you still have that old Discman you got back in high school and it still plays CDs – when it’s sitting on a flat, steady surface and the CD is free of scratches and smudges. That’s good, but you should still consider investing in some new technology. With a CD player, you have to carefully select the songs you want to burn to a disc. Then you’ll need to purchase a CD onto which you can to burn the songs. Finally you have to hope and pray the CD was made with the least amount of problems. Even the best burners and programs still leave songs off, not to mention the whole process takes awhile. With an MP3 player, you simply plug the player into the computer and drag and drop the songs onto it.

If size does matter to you, then you’ll be happy to know that most MP3 players are considerably smaller than a Discman. Since MP3 players don’t have motors in them, they are also a lot lighter.

Now the question is, how many of your favorite tunes can you fit inside such a tiny device? First, you have to know a little about MP3s. The sound quality of the MP3 depends on the bit rate. To have a sound quality comparable to CD quality, you will want to have MP3s with a bit rate of 128. Now, at CD quality you have one megabyte per one minute of music. So what does this mean to you? The capacity of an MP3 player is measured in MBs. Many players have 128 MB, allowing you to have about two hours of music on them. A lot of manufacturers will say that their players will hold four or more hours of music, but that’s at a lower quality.

Once you’ve got the hottest play- list on your player, you need to figure out what’s being played. If you’re familiar with playing songs on a computer, you know that when you play an MP3, you can see the song title, artist and other info. Many players have larger displays to allow you to see all of this additional info.

When you’re buying an MP3 player, you’re paying for the unit and how it looks and functions, not the headphones. All headphones that come with MP3 players are just downright bad. If you have a decent set of headphones with your current Discman, you can use those with any MP3 player.

If you want a really good, really basic player, pick up the Creative Nomad MuVo. It has the right amount of memory, 128 MB, and is very small. The one thing that it lacks is a display. I like to know at least what track I’m listening to and how much time I have left in the song. Especially with its $150 price tag, you would think they could include a display.

The best inexpensive player out there is the irock!530. It’s small and has a basic display, 128MB memory and costs $130. It’s nothing pretty; just a little box with a green display, but it does its job.

For those who want the most bang for their buck while getting the newest, coolest-looking player out there, pick up the Sonicblue Rio S50 for $170. You can’t ask for anything else from a display than what the S50 provides. It has room for the song title, artist and time elapsed. It has 128MB that can increase to 256MB. Sonicblue even includes rechargeable batteries. Plus, it just looks hot to hold in your hand.

With this in mind you are well on your way to own a hot MP3 player.

Any questions, contact the writer at [email protected].