The MP3 player market covers a range of shapes, sizes, features, storage capacities, file formats, and download services. Amid such variety, how are you to choose? That's where we come in. This guide will help you pick the perfect player.
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of how to choose an MP3 player. But the fun isn't over yet. You can pick from an endless number of accessories that will enable you to use an MP3 player as your car stereo, protect your hardware, improve your player's sound quality, and much, much more. Here are the main types of add-ons for portable audio players.
Some people don't care about which headphones they use, but they probably haven't tried on a high-end pair; the difference will blow you away. The sound quality on MP3 players varies but nowhere near as much as that of headphones, so be sure to budget for a new set. If you want more "oomph" from your digital music, bite the bullet and invest in a decent pair--your ears will appreciate it.
Some headphones can keep external noise from interfering with your music. Noise-canceling models work by electronically negating external sound, while sound-isolating headphones form a seal around the ear canal to stop other audio from getting in. Both types are great for planes or other boisterous environments, but we wouldn't recommend them for biking through city streets or any other activity that requires awareness of your surroundings.
The Shure SE310 earbuds offer various eartips (silicone, foam) that help to block out surrounding noise.
Here's an example of the over-the-ear style of headphone (in this case, the inexpensive yet noise-canceling RCA HPNC300).
Scour product reviews and manufacturer Web sites to determine whether any optional add-ons are available. Examples include in-line remote controls, jogging kits, deluxe carrying cases, flash memory adapters, FM transmitters, flash memory, docking stations, USB/FireWire kits, extra rechargeable batteries, car adapters, and more. Just because these extras are optional doesn't mean they won't enhance your enjoyment of the device.
How about using an MP3 player in your car? As far as cassette adapters go, they work with anything that has a mini headphone jack, so there are no compatibility issues. Yet you have to be really careful with power adapters for both car cigarette lighters and wall plugs. Use only those provided by the manufacturer; even if the plug physically fits, you still need to confirm the adapter's polarity, voltage, and amperage. While amperage can usually be 20 percent less or up to 100 percent more than what's needed by the player, polarity and voltage must be identical to the unit's requirements. If you're unsure about these factors, skip the bargains and buy the power adapter sold by the manufacturer--you'll avoid frying your player.
DLO's HomeDock offers a simple solution for integrating your iPod into your home theater setup, and the included remote lets you control your tunes from across the room.