Choosing an MP4 Player

Author xlxmarketing 20.2.2008. | 14:52

Anybody who has been following gadget news over the past couple of years may be forgiven for thinking that everything MP4, and MP4 capable, had a name starting with ‘i’.

Sony Walkman and MP4 watches made a little bit of a splash but it seemed if the movers and shakers had decided that if Apple didn’t make it, it wasn’t worth getting.

However, apart from the Apple fan-boys and fan-girls, who can be a little pretentious, and who appear to run many of the world’s media outlets; the world does not judge a personal media player’s quality simply on the presence, or absence, of the little silver member of the pip-fruit family.

A search on EBay, one of the better indicators of the popularity of consumer goods, is only likely to turn up four iPod, or iPod related items on the first page (or did on the composition of this blog anyway) with most other players coming in a wide array of shapes, colors, styles and with a wide array of functions.

Unfortunately, with all the ‘hooplah’ over Apple, very little has been written about things to consider when purchasing an MP4 player from a lesser-known maker. So we here at Chinavasion thought we’d put together a list of things to consider when buying an MP4.

Stay tuned because later this week we’ll be telling you a couple of things to watch out for when purchasing an MP4 and how to avoid pitfalls, but more about that later in the week.

What are you going to use the device for?

This is potentially the most important question you’re likely to face when thinking about which MP4 to purchase. Do you want it for data transfer, as an e-reader, a music player, a movie player, a portable television, as a mobile photo album or as a recording device? Or perhaps you may even need the MP4 to display footage caught on your spy camera?

People looking for an e-reader, movie player, photo display or portable television may want to get something with a bigger and clearer screen, as looking at anything with a 1.2 inch screen can be painful. Anybody looking to purchase a portable television will need a good reception, and anybody looking for a movie player will need a good amount of memory.

Portable HDD Media Player with 7 Inch LCD (Up To 1TB)[CVPP-E103] is a true ‘do everything’ player. This amazing portable HDD media player comes with a 7 inch widescreen LCD that displays gorgeous DVD quality videos and comes with a 2.5 inch SATA hard drive slot (up to 1TB) for storing and accessing your entire music, movie and photo collections.

By deciding the main purposes you want the player for, your decisions over functions, memory, appearance and battery life will become easier and the decision of which MP4 to buy may even make itself.

What do you want to look the device to look like?

While many MP4 players may resemble the classic iPod, players come in a huge variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. From the more conventional vertical box-shaped MP4 player, to a horizontal MP4 player; even MP4 watches are available!

A selection of just some of the various styles of players on offer, from left to right, top to bottom: The Bomb – 8GB MP6 Player with 4.3 Inch Touchscreen LCD [CVKQ-N06-8GB], Digital Multimedia Player (MP3, MP4, Camera, Games, Large LCD)[YDP-281-2GB],MP3 Player and 4GB Flash Drive with FM Transmitter + Car Kit [CVID-C25], and Gauntlet – Stainless Steel Quad Band Watchphone + MP4 [CVLP-M64] .

Again deciding exactly what you want to do with the MP4 and where you want to use it will have a factor on which shaped MP4 player you choose, but personal aesthetics will definitely play a factor.

Choose what functions you want the MP4 to perform.

MP4 players come with a wide variety of functions, just like they come in a myriad of styles; and choosing between functions can sometimes be confusing just in itself.

This is where considerations over use come in handy. People who want to watch movies or store big files will appreciate the ability to increase memory much more than those who are just looking to listen to music, who are more likely to appreciate bluetooth-enabled headphones. Some may even appreciate a camera on MP4 players, where others may see one as unnecessary.

Screen size and type

Again this depends much on what the MP4 will be used for and your budget. Someone interested in primarily using the MP4 player as an music player will be happy with a smaller screen, whereas people looking to use the personal media unit as a movie player or an e-reader will want a substantially larger screen.

People considering purchasing a unit as an e-reader or movie player might also want to think about getting a touch screen capable player as it will make their experience with the device much more pleasant.

Movie, TV and Photo aficionados are more likely to appreciate the Media Whiz – MP6 Player with 3.5 Inch Touchscreen + ISDB-T [CVMI-E82], whereas commuters and travellers are more likely to want the 4GB Portable Media Player – PMP with Video, Music, Camera, Games [CVSL-109-4GB]

Memory capability

Most MP3s and MP4s come with a flash drives with capacities varying between 256MB and 8GB, although some MP4/HDD players can hold substantially more than that. The size of files and things MP4s are used for have made 256MB and 512MB players largely obsolete… suitable only for those looking for a low-cost option to transfer data which can also play the occasional song.

MP4/HDD players are on the other end of the scale and can often have memories that rival entry-level PCs. Players with memory capacities between 2GB and 8GB are in the middle of the range and will often have a SD card or MiniSD card port to help boost the memory by another 512MB to 8GB.

As a rule, if you’re just playing a few tunes on the road or in the gym, then a low memory such as 2GB to 4GB should be fine. But if you’re watching video or storing photos, then you’ll want from 8GB upwards.

Formats supported

When MP4s and MP3s first emerged on the scene they only really needed to support one or two formats: WMA and MP3 if the media was audio or WMA or MPEG. However, thanks to the popularity of YouTube and a million other video posting sites, a number of other formats are now on offer including Divx and, very occasionally, SWF.

This means you need to ensure you check exactly which formats the player you’re considering will support. However, if you do find yourself in the situation where your player doesn’t support your favorite song/movie clip all is not lost. A number of software sites have free converter programs designed to help people get exactly what they want on their media players, freewarefiles and sourceforge are just two of these sites.

When considering purchasing an MP4, just remember iPod isn’t the only option on offer. In fact, once deciding to look beyond the ever-omnipresent Apple, you may just find that a wider world of even more capable and cheaper MP4s are out there that you didn’t even know existed!

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Author xlxmarketing 20.2.2008. | 14:52
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