If you already have a large digital music collection, make sure that your new MP3 player is compatible with the file format your songs are in. Most modern MP3 players will play most file formats, but it's worth double-checking to avoid disappointment

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What is an MP3?

MP3 is a music file that has been compressed to allow songs to be stored digitally with near-CD quality sound in much less space. Typically a standard audio CD can hold 20 tracks (74 minutes of music). Using MP3 files the same CD can hold up to 200 tracks. An MP3 player gives you the opportunity to store potentially thousands of your favourite songs on one small portable machine.

How do MP3's work?

MP3 files can either be downloaded from the web or you can convert your current CD collection into MP3 files using a PC (This is called 'ripping' the CD). Software is usually provided with your MP3 player (or it can be downloaded from the internet). Then you can take your MP3 with all your music wherever you go.

What is an iPod

The iPod is a specific brand of MP3 player, made by Apple , that has a specific set of features and design. Unlike most mass market MP3 players, the iPods use the Apple iTunes software to transfer music to the music devices. Using iTunes you can store a music library on your computer, burn music from CD, transfer photos, videos, game and small applications (when supported by the player) and many other features.

Which iPod is best for you?

iPod Shuffle
The colourful, clip-and-go iPod shuffle. With buttons, VoiceOver and playlists. Great for running and people on the go.

iPod Nano
At just 5.4mm thin - and about the size of a credit card - the iPod nano nano is the thinnest iPod ever made. The 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display is nearly twice as big as the display on the previous iPod nano, so you can see more of the music, photos and videos you love. Buttons let you quickly play, pause, change songs or adjust the volume. The smooth new anodised aluminium design makes iPod nano feel as good as it sounds. And iPod nano wouldn't be iPod nano without gorgeous, hard-to-choose-from colours

iPod Touch
Fun was built into every millimetre of the new thinner, lighter iPod touch. It does more than ever, more powerfully than ever, from playing games to playing music to just playing around. And everything looks tremendous on the 4-inch Retina display. Take photos on the amazing iSight camera, use the panoramic feature to shoot your favourite skyline and upload them instantly to Facebook over Wifi.

iPod Classic
With 160GB of storage, iPod classic is the take-everything-everywhere iPod. iPod classic can hold up to 40,000 songs, 200 hours of video, 25,000 photos or any combination. And you get up to 36 hours of battery life, so you can keep on rocking for a long, long time.

Storage capacity

An important consideration is how many songs you want to store at any one time? With current memory sizes you can now store 1000's of songs on your iPod Storage size varies from as little as 512Mb for Flash Memory MP3 players to over 80GB for Hard Drive MP3 players. Please see chart below for more detail:

Memory Size 512Mb 1Gb 4Gb 20Gb 40Gb 80Gb 160Gb
Approx no of MP3 files 120 370 1,000 5,000 10,000 20,000 40,000

File formats

is a file format itself, but there are several other formats for compressing music as well. The 3 main formats are:

is Microsoft's compressed music file format. It was designed to use half the space of standard MP3 files, allowing you to fit more music onto your MP3 player and it incorporates DRM (Digital Rights Management) allowing the files to be copy protected.

(Advanced Audio Codec)- This is another compressed music file format developed jointly by a group of companies that include Nokia. It was designed to be an improvement on MP3 and also incorporates DRM (Digital Rights Management). This is the file format used by Apple for the Ipod and Itunes.

(Adaptive Transform Accoustic Coding) - ATRAC is Sony's compressed music file format. It compresses files up to 33% smaller, fitting more music onto your MP3 player.

All MP3
players are compatible with MP3 files and most of them are usually compatible with other formats such as the ones mentioned above. Most download websites store their music in a particular format, so you would need to check the compatibility of a website with your MP3 player before downloading.

Other features

Some MP3 players have extra features as well as playing music, such as:

USB - Most MP3 players
connect to a PC via a USB port, usually via a USB cable but some can connect directly into a PC without the need for a cable.

Lightning connector
Apple's new 9-pin iOS device connector, dubbed Lightning, is 80 percent smaller than its predecessor (the 30pin connector) is all-digital, and can be plugged in either way. This connector is used for both data transfer and charging

This technology allows electronic devices in close range to communicate wirelessly, so you can connect your phone to your car hands-free or to another Bluetooth enabled mobile phones

Lets you connect to the internet through a wireless network hotspot on the go or at home

Built-in FM radio
tuner for listening to the radio on the move

Backlit LCD screen
to improve visibility in low light environments

Colour LCD screen
for viewing photo's and some even have video capability

Games/Address Book/Calendar
Store your contact and save appointments in your calendar.

DRM (Digital Rights Management)
This is a system that prevents illegal copying of music (and other) files. Many music download sites sell files with DRM encoding. So if you wish to use these sites you will need an MP3 player that is DRM compatible.

ID3 tags
This is a system that allows MP3 files to display information about the music track. It is a small data file that is built into every MP3 and shows the following information, TITLE, ARTIST, ALBUM, YEAR, COMMENTS, GENRE.

Genius feature on the new iPod Touch and iPod Nano
A few clicks and the new Genius feature will find the songs on you iPod Nano or Touch that go together and then it will make a Genius Play list for you!

Shake and Shuffle
Shake your ipod Touch or iPod Nano and it shuffles to a different song in your library.. during a call).
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