"How to buy the right MP3 player"
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How to buy the right MP3 player
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>> What's up? Brian Tong here with CNET TV, and I'm joined today by Miss Jasmine France, senior associate editor with MP3 and Digital Audio. And we're here to talk about the holiday season and MP3 gift buying, you know, some of the things to look for and some of the things you guys want to avoid. So I guess to get things rolling, what are some of the fundamental or core things that people should care about when looking to get an MP3 player for somebody.
>> It really depends on the type of user, actually.
>> There's what I like to call, like, 3 kind of core areas of MP3 use. One is, like, super on the go, like fitness, very active, like, for the gym or for running or whatever. And then you have your kind of every day, like, commute player, and then you'll have more of a long haul player, for like, travel and stuff like that. So, you know, it really depends on the area that they're in.
>> For everyday players, you want something that's, like, easy to use, that works with the software that you like because that is going to be an integral part of it. People often, I think, don't think about the software side of things.
>> Yeah, yeah.
>> And has the features that that person is gonna use. So if they want something like integrated voice recording, you want to look for a built-in mike, for example. Or, you know, not all players have an FM radio, such as the iPod. It doesn't. So if you're loved one or yourself, if you want an FM radio, that's not gonna be a player that you want. So, you know, there's lots of different things to look for, you know, video playback, all that kind of stuff.
>> Yeah, there's so many different -- so let's say, like, if you're an active person, you'd probably want something a little more portable?
>> Right. You want something very small and also with flash memory. Nowadays, it's pretty much everything has flash memory. There's not a lot of hard drive players left. But flash is solid state, so you're not gonna get any skipping problems. It's also more durable. Something small. Most of them aren't gonna be sweat resistant as it is, so you want to get an armband or something, maybe, if the person using it is really sweaty. You never know.
>> You have to find that out.
>> You'll have to ask them.
>> There are some players, like -- such as the iPod Shuffle has a built-in clip. So does the Sandisk Sansa Clip has a built-in clip, hence the name "Clip." So those are a couple that people like to get for workout because you could just clip it onto yourself. A good thing with it I always recommend the clip for is that it has in integrated FM tuner, and that -- if you're at the gym, you'll notice a lot of the TVs use FM frequencies to transmit the audio, so if you have an FM radio in your MP3 player you can tune into the TVs at your gym. So that is a feature to look for.
>> Yeah, I do hate that because, like, I'm seeing football, and I want to listen to it, but I have an iPod, so I can't.
>> So you can't. So there you go.
>> Damn it. Okay, what about someone that you mentioned kind of is it in the haul, or someone that's going to be using for -- you know, maybe on long trips or is a traveler more or less?
>> What are some of the things you might recommend they look for?
>> Well, you definitely want to look for long battery life. That's a big one. I think the iPod Touch actually performed really well on our battery life testing. Also I like to look for a more video-centric player, so players that have at least a 2.5 inch screen if not more than that. I like at least three, actually, if you're gonna be watching a lot of video. One of the things that I always say, also, is get a good pair of headphones for traveling. That's actually a little bit more important than an MP3 sometimes because you want noise canceling or sound isolation, you want to block out all the other passengers on the plane as far as I'm concerned.
>> All of them, especially those crying little kids.
>> Now, if we talk about -- kind of shift over to headphones. You have earbuds. You have the ones that go over your ears, you know, kind of rest, or the ones that kind of cup over your -- cup over the entire ear.
>> Is there any personal preference for you? Or, you know, what's kind of a general rule of thumb that people might want to stick to when they think about getting headphones for someone or for themselves?
>> It really is, like, a super personal --
>> So not -- yeah.
>> -- thing, like, headphones are. Some people really don't like in-ear style buds because they're uncomfortable sticking things in their ears. So that's something you definitely want to find out about whoever you're buying for. And for those, either the on ear or the ear cup -- ear cup tends to be the most comfortable and cushy for, like, traveling. It's usually the one people -- the ones people like because it's the most comfortable. And they have the big pads, like, over your ears.
>> It's like soft pillows on your ears.
>> Exactly. And those ones, you know, they have a little downside. They're not as portable for one, and also, sometimes they can make your ears sweat, so that is a concern.
>> Yeah, you get -- might the warm ear thingy, right? Around the backside, yeah.
>> Right. So they're closed-back, so you're not getting air in there. And then you have kind of an on ear style, which is like the Bose Quiet Comfort 3s. And those are pretty portable, and you don't have to stick them in your ear. A lot of people love those headphones. I think they're pretty comfortable myself. And then of course, you have the in ear, which I was talking about. And you want to look for one that has, you know, good sound isolation. If you're using for traveling, or -- you know, as long as you're not using it for something active. That's something to be concerned about because if you're doing jogging outside, or you're riding your bike, you shouldn't be wearing both anyway if you're riding your bike. So you want earbuds for that. But you want to make sure that you're not blocking out too much street noise so that you're being safe.
>> Now, let's transition over to things that people should avoid when they're getting MP3 players for anyone. Are there things to look out for?
>> Well, generally I say read our reviews because that'll --
>> Always read CNET reviews. Duh.
>> Always read the reviews because that will kind of give you an idea of what, like, maybe usability issues that we've had with them. One thing I always recommend is if you can, go into, like, a Best Buy or another store and try it out. Just give it a feel in your hand, because you'll be able to tell just by feeling it if it feels cheap. Because just because it costs a little money doesn't mean it has to be cheaply made. Like, you can find a good deal on something that has a nice feel to it. Another thing to look out for is compatibility. So say, if you have a Mac for example, not everything is gonna be compatible with it. So definitely make sure that whatever it is gonna work with the operating system that you have.
>> That the person --
>> So don't buy a Zune if your friend has a Mac. For them.
>> Right. Exactly. For example, yes.
>> That would be a no-no.
>> Pretty much everything is compatible with Windows, so you don't really have to worry on that end. But, like, Mac and Linux, you want to look for something that's UMS -- that's Universal Mass Storage. And that will work with any operating system that you have.
>> So we talked a lot about different MP3 players. Is there one that kind of sticks out in your mind in this holiday season to be the one that you just can't miss if you get for somebody?
>> Yeah, I mean, if you don't mind spending a good chunk of change, I'm really liking the second-generation iPod Touch.
>> That got Editor's Choice Award from us.
>> It did. It's the highest rated MP3 player on CNET right now. It's an excellent video player. I will say that. Good playback of MP3s, good battery life, all that. But it is gonna be a higher priced player, and it is a little fragile. You know, you have to put it in a case and everything. Now, if you want to go down to more of, like, budget friendly options that are still nicely made and maybe are a little bit more durable, I'm really liking the Sony Walkman's right now, specifically the E series because the E series has excellent sound quality, has a fantastic battery life. It gets up around 40 hours for audio that we tested it at.
>> That's a lot.
>> Yes, it is. It has, like, the integrated FM tuner. A couple of other little extras is video playback, photo playback, that kind of stuff, so. And it's a little bit cheaper on a gigabyte per gigabyte comparison than the iPod Nano, so you're gonna be spending a little less money, and it's both Windows and Mac compatible. So anybody can use it.
>> Yeah, it's for everybody. All right, guys. So hopefully those tips kind of help you out -- figure out what you're gonna get for this holiday season. And we'll catch you guys later.
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