Quick guide to purchasing a MP4 player - what to ask...

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MP3 players are all the rage, and now we have MP4 players for sale on ebay, you may have seen them, those dinky little devices that can play videos as well as music.
They seem to mainly come from foreign shores, and after my partner purchased a couple of them, I though I would share my experiences of using one.

Obviously what I say here may not apply to all players, but you should read the auction carefully and check with the seller to find out exactly what it is you are buying.....

Some MP4 Players are NOT MP4 PLAYERS

Sounds odd that doesn't it?

But its true, MP4 is a well defined standard, and the players we received DO NOT PLAY MP4 FILES, in reality they just play mp3 files and DMV files. Try to put on many of the files that would play on a genuine MP4 compatible device and they just wont work.

In reality, the MP4 is often just a marketing term, meaning it can do more than just play MP3 files.
You should ask the seller if it genuinely is a MP4 player, and if it can play all MP4 compatible files.

You can put your own videos on the player.

Well to a certain extent thats true, BUT only if you are prepared to convert them to an obscure format first. This isnt always easy, and the tools provided may not be that useful, or easy to use....
Dont assume you can just download a mpeg or avi file of the internet, or from your camera and play it on the mp4 player, check with the seller first.

The Conversion tools needed come free with the player.

In the case of the players we got, yes we did get a CD with the software, but its in chinese or some similar language that makes it impossible for me to figure out the software! Not only that but the software driver for converting to the DMV format is a DEMO that expired after one month.

This is something that you need to establish with your seller, are they going to sell you software that expires after 30 days, and after you have left feedback thinking all is fine?

It will come with a manual so I can learn how to use it.

Well, ours came with a manual. In chinese or something like that.
Not worth the paper it was printed on for us, if a seller wants to sell internationally they should make it clear in the auction that they cant be bothered to source a translated manual, or write a guide for the item in the native language of the purchaser.

Ask you seller if all the documentation and software/manuals will be in English.

It will be upgradeable.

Many players are supposed to be "firmware" upgradeable, but in reality most players dont even have ANY makers name on them, they dont even have a model number. You basically end up buying a device that the manufacturer does not want their own name on.

Because of this, and because non of the documentation has any reference to who made the player, you will have a very hard time trying to get support from the manufacturer, and can forget about sourcing upgrades, apart from third party ones that run the risk of killing your player if you download one that is not for exactly the right model.

Dont forget also to check what the situation with returns is, do you pay the return postage if the item arrives faulty? How long will it take to be delivered?

Make sure you do your research before buying. Dont just get a gadget because it sounds great, ask the seller detailed questions, and if they cant answer, or are vague, walk away.

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