MP3 Media Players
Mp3 media players are now as ubiquitous and useful as Google and Yahoo, and it seems like every month there is some new algorithm released or codec updated that promises to bring ever more fidelity to our digital listening experience. But, for those who are not on the cutting edge of mp3 media players and the technology used to make them run, these changes can be confusing. The following is a guide to the basics of mp3 media players and the various formats that they use.
Mp3 media players are basically souped up CD or tape players—two media formats that have gone the way of the record and the eight track. They are able to keep entire music libraries loaded up, accessible at the touch of a finger, rather than just a single album. This has brought about a revolution in the music industry, to the joy of many and the chagrin of a few others.
Mp3 itself is the name of a file format that is commonly used to store digital music. It is the sort of infantry in this new music revolution, and “mp3 player” is used pretty interchangeably to describe all mp3 media players. Mp3 is an acronym for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, which is a standard developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group (hence, MPEG). But mp3 is just one of many competing media formats that exist for the storage of digital audio files. Another major contender is WMA, or Windows Media Audio, the proprietary format that Microsoft has designed to compete with mp3. While pretty much every “mp3” player plays mp3 files, only some play WMA, and even fewer play the lesser competitors. So while surveying the field of mp3 media players, keep in mind what sort of data you will be using most, especially if your audio is in non-standard formats.
The next generation of mp3 media players is said to be cell phones, and there are certainly many examples of these devices growing popularity. Apple has released an iPod cell phone, and Bill Gates claimed over a year ago that he thought mp3 media players integrated into cell phones would eventually replace all stand-alone models. So, if you're really looking to get to the cutting edge, consider an mp3 media player that is built into a cell phone. You'll be the envy of technophiles everywhere.