MP3 Player Buying Guide by DigiDirect UK

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We've been selling MP3 players on Ebay for over 2 years and in that time we've answered a lot of questions from our customers. So we've written a guide to answer the questions we get asked most often. We hope you find it useful and if you do please vote for it.

We have divided it into three sections to help you find the information you might be looking for:

Basic MP3 words, terms & phrases explained - make sense of all that mumbo jumbo
How to find the right player for you - a breakdown of the important features of any MP3 player
Things to look for in a good MP3 player seller - a chance for us to blow our own trumpet


Basic MP3 words, terms & phrases explained

What is an MP3 Player?
A digital audio player. A small portable device that is used to store and play music. Most players are compatible with MP3 and WMA file formats, which are the dominant formats. The smallest and most compact MP3 players use a type of memory known as Flash memory. Besides playing digital audio files, many players have additional features such as an FM radio or the ability to play Video files (see what is an MP4 player?).

What is an MP3?
An MP3 is a digital audio file, MP3 files have the extension .mp3 at the end. One song on a conventional music CD can be converted into one MP3. MP3s use about 10% of the storage required by the CD format, making them an ideal format for digital audio players. There are many freely available programs that will convert your audio CDs into MP3 files ready for uploading to an MP3 player.

What is WMA?
Windows Media Audio (WMA) is Microsoft’s answer to the MP3 format. It is another way to convert music from audio CDs to a small file and uses even less storage than the MP3 format. WMA files will have the extension .wma at the end. Windows Media Player can be used to convert your audio CDs to WMA format ready for uploading to an MP3 player.

What is Flash Memory?
Unlike the conventional memory such as that found in a desktop computer Flash memory does not have any moving parts. This enables the chip to be ultra compact and use very little power, making them very suitable for making small digital audio players. Generally their capacities range from 2GB to 8GB.

What is an MP4 Player?
‘MP4 player’ is most often used as a marketing term to denote a player that can play video files in addition to audio files. MP4 files are video files and confusingly most MP4 players cannot actually play MP4 files directly but require the video files to be converted to a compatible format before uploading to the player. Such players should correctly be named Media or Video players to avoid this confusion.

What does 2GB, 4GB, 8GB mean?
This is the capacity of a player. It tells you how many songs (approximately) in MP3 format can be stored on the player. (WMA format uses even less storage than MP3 format and will store twice the amount of songs as MP3 format). The terms track and song are often used interchangeably, they have the same meaning.

2GB = 500 songs
4GB = 1000 songs
8GB = 2000 songs

Do I need special software in order to use the MP3 player?
You do not need any special software in order to use DigiDirect's range of MP3 players. Music files (MP3 or WMA) are simply dragged and dropped to the player, the player then arranges the audio files ready to be played. These players allow the user to transfer their music to multiple PCs and other MP3 players if needed. Certain players such as the Apple iPod require a specific program to be used (iTunes) to convert your music library before uploading to the iPod. The iPod is tied to a single specific computer preventing the transfer of your music to other PCs or MP3 players you may own.


How to find the right player for you - a breakdown of the important features of any MP3 player

Decide which capacity you need
Do you want to upload your entire music collection?  Maybe you just want your favourite tracks organized into playlists for easy listening or jogging. The capacity of the player tells you how many tracks you can store on it.  The following is an approximate guide for MP3 format. (WMA format can double the amount of tracks that can be stored).
2GB = 500 songs
4GB = 1000 songs
8GB = 2000 songs

What else can the player do?
FM Radio, Voice Recording, Videos, Games are not to be ignored. They can add a whole new dimension to that little gadget in your pocket which you may be carrying around with you a lot.

Batteries or Rechargeable?
Going on a trek across the world? A player with a built-in rechargeable battery might be a pain when hotels are few and far between. Consider a player that requires a AAA battery, sounds simple but they’re often the cheapest players and ideally suited for taking on your travels.  A pack of batteries will easily outlast any rechargeable MP3 player. If rechargeable sounds like the player for you, then check to make sure a charger is supplied with the player. Even though the player can be charged from the PC using the USB lead, you’d rather have the choice right?

Accessories & Packaging
Check that the player is supplied with all of the accessories you need. Does it come with earphones, are there any clear photos of the accessories? Some players are very slim and use a 2.5mm earphone jack which is smaller than the standard 3.5mm jack. Fair enough, but without a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter you will not be able to use any other earphones other than those supplied. The adapter should be supplied as standard with the player. If the player has a rechargeable battery, is the charger supplied?
Most important of all, if the seller is not willing to show the actual item, its accessories and its packaging in detailed clear photos, why should you be willing to give them your money? 

Things to look for in a good MP3 player seller

Feedback, Feedback, Feedback
Did we mention Feedback? Don’t just glance at it, read the comments. Look for the comments written by people who had their faulty items replaced or refunded for reassurance of a seller who deals with problems. When an item is faulty, what matters is how the seller deals with it. 

Is there a Warranty?
All of our products come with a 12 month manufacturer’s warranty. Expect nothing less than 12 months. Sadly many sellers claim to offer all sorts of warranties but rarely live up to it.

Whats the packaging like?
We’re proud to show our products in detail including the packaging and accessories because they look damn good! But you’ll find very few other sellers willing to show the packaging or accessories with their products. The reason is simple, they are simply re-selling cheap Chinese imports, which are really not worth a penny. If you’re buying the player to give as a gift do you really want a player that’s been boxed in a generic box?

Got a user a manual?
MP3 players are not easy to use if you’re new to them. Check to make sure the player is supplied with a comprehensive English user manual, not a poorly translated scrap of paper.

Customer Support?
In our experience most customers have some questions about their players once they have received them. We support our customers with detailed knowledge of our items because that’s all we sell. We sell MP3 players and we know MP3 players.

What about fake memory?
Sadly there are some sellers who would sell their granny for a quick profit. We’ve been here long enough to see many of these sellers come and go. So how should you avoid it? If the advertised price is far lower than other similar items avoid it. Often these sellers will not have been selling for long.


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