Buying guide: MP3 players

Shopping for an iPod, Sony Walkman or other MP3 player? We've got you covered

Jargon Busters: MP3 Players

Battery life: How long the player will run before it needs to be recharged.

Flash memory: This is the memory inside some MP3 players that is used to store the music files. Flash memory has no moving parts at all, so it is harder to damage than a hard disk, and another benefit is that it tends to use less power.

Hard disk: A small drive inside some MP3 players that is used to hold the music. Hard disks have moving parts and tend to use more power than flash memory storage. They are also more likely to get damaged if you are rough with the MP3 player.

Headphone jack: The place where you plug in your headphones on the MP3 player.

MP3: A compressed audio file created on a computer. MP3 files are small for the amount of audio they hold, making them great for large music collections. Note you will lose some audio quality as a trade-off for the small file size.

Plug-and-play: If a player is plug and play, it means you can connect it to your computer with a cable and simply copy your music straight across. Some other players need special software to do this, so plug-and-play models are much easier to use.

Storage capacity: Is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). This allows you to compare the amount of songs and content that can be stored on the player.

Supported file format: The type of files that the player can play, such as MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, etc. MP3 is the industry standard audio file type.

Touchscreen: Instead of accessing the MP3 functions using buttons or a scroll wheel, some MP3 players have a display that you touch in order to navigate through menus and options.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a popular shorthand term for wireless networking. Wi-Fi enabled MP3 players connect to your Internet connection or computer without being plugged in, so you can wirelessly download music, video content or access Web pages from your MP3 device.

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