Let’s talk about the three basic considerations for choosing the best mp3 player for your family. These are cost, storage and functionality. It is difficult to separate cost from your storage needs and the functionality that will fit your family. Prices range from $30 to $400. What can your family afford? How much money could you save towards this purchase if increased functionality is important to you?
Storage can be divided into two considerations: storage amount, and storage type. Storage amounts range from 512 Megabytes to 160 Gigabytes. The more storage space you have, the more audio files you can keep on your mp3 player at any given moment. Some families like to keep most of their audio files stored on the hard drive of the computer, and then load small amounts of new material to the mp3 player each week. Other families prefer to load everything they own onto the mp3 player and carry maximum amounts of flexibility. This is probably based on personality. The free podcasts available can take up huge amounts of storage space if you do not cull out the ones you have already enjoyed. Storage type is important for durability. Some mp3 players are designed to take the added jarring caused by heavy exercise such as running. Many mp3 players are not designed to hold up to this type of usage. Do you anticipate members of your family using the mp3 player for personal listening during exercise?
Functionality can include bookmarking, playlist organization, video playback, voice recording, on-screen menus, touch control, and gaming. Many of these advanced functions section are not available with less expensive models. Talk this over with your family, and decide which of these functions are most important to you.
The least expensive mp3 players cost around $30, a price that fits into many budgets! If you want to keep it inexpensive, you could purchase a $30 model from any chain store with limited functionality. Basically, an mp3 player in this price range functions exactly like a compact disc player. You can usually fast forward to the next track or play files in random order. You will not be able to “bookmark” a file, listen to another file, and then come back to your bookmark. You cannot group different tracks from multiple compact discs into one playlist on your mp3 player. Instead, you could purchase a used or older iPod? shuffle for the same price on a popular auction site and get some bookmarking abilities, playlist capabilities and other added functionality through the free iTunes? software, as well as the full breadth of free podcasts available through iTunes?. If this is what your family chooses to afford, you will be able to take mp3 files from your computer to your car or portable stereo with the appropriate cable; but you will not have all of the advanced functionality described in this book. Still, the added convenience of portable mp3 files does indicate this choice for those who need the least expensive option. If you do not use on-line auction houses, for as little as $50 you can purchase a new iPod shuffle directly from the Apple? web-site (these mp3 players work on any PC or MAC), or choose from other similar mp3 players with more functionality then what you will get from the very cheapest model available at a large discount store such as Wal-mart.
A middle of the road mp3 player will cost between $50 and $250. You might think that with each increase in price comes a corresponding increase in storage and functionality, but this is simply not true. The best mp3 player in this class is arguably the iPod Nano?; which combines most of the advanced features of the iPod? with a smaller size and lower price. A 4GB Nano costs between $110 and $150 and in my opinion is worth saving for if at all possible. Another great option between $40 and $80 is the Samsung YP-U3, which has less storage space (2GB) but is also smaller and less expensive, and still offers flash video. The Creative Zen offerings in this class are also close competitors.
The highest class of mp3 players costs between $250 and $400. Only two mp3 players come out on top in this contest, the Video iPod, and the large capacity Creative Zen brand, whose specific name changes with each new design. These two companies are running neck and neck in creating new and more powerful mp3 players.
How should you choose?
Make a prioritized list of the functionality you want in an mp3 player. Start reading reviews of the most current products available. When you read on-line reviews, make sure you put the current year in your search engine so that you can accurately compare the most current models. Many old reviews for previous mp3 players are still floating on the web adding general confusion. Compare the functionality for yourself, as different users prefer different strengths. Shop at several stores and use the demo products. Choose a product based on the most functionality available for the price your family can afford.
Here are some websites where you can read current reviews for the newest mp3 players:
Do you know how many amazing and/or free audio recordings are available via the internet and will work on your mp3 player? For more information about using audio files in your homeschool, visit us on the web at http://bowofbronze.com and look for our book titled: Listen and Learn: Using Audio Files in Your Homeschool.
Don’t forget! Want great MOM content for your Mp3 Player? Check out Talk-a-Latte and Mom-to-Mom Radio Show