A couple of decades ago, more or less, I bought a portable cassette tape player. I thought it would be great to use while I went walking. Just put in a John Phillip Sousa tape and march off the miles with a smile on my face because of the great music, I thought.
It was barely used. It worked, but was hungary for batteries and was rather bulky.
Today, no one would even think of using such a device. The current instrument of choice: an MP3 player!
Let's start by discussing the term "MP3." Strictly speaking, MP3 is a patented format for recording digital audio. The audio recorded results in a file size which is about 1/11th the size of the file if it were in CD format. The intent of the format is to make recordings which are small in file size but whose fidelity is indistinguishable from the original by most listeners.
So, now we have digital audio recordings requiring relatively little space on digital media. And today, digital media has increased greatly in capacity and decreased significantly in price. The result is that hundreds and hundreds of songs, recorded in MP3 format, can be stored on readily available and relatively inexpensive "chips."
All we need is a device on which to convert the digital recording on the chip to music we can hear!
That's exactly what an "MP3 player" does. They're small, convenient, feature laden, and relatively inexpensive. One model is about the size of a small belt buckle!
You've probably heard of the iPod; that's a family of MP3 players marketed by Apple. But there are many other brands available.
Many players include an FM radio receiver, a nice feature and one which I personally would not want to be without. Reception is surprisingly good. One doesn't expect such great sound from such a small unit.
MP3 players are available for less than fifty bucks—and for a few hundred! The main difference is the amount of memory provided.
The one I currently use measures about 2" x 3" x 1/4"—an RVers dream! (We don't like big, bulky devices!) But size is not the issue with MP3 players; any unit will be significantly smaller than a tape cassette. I consider mine an essential piece of exercise equipment. An hour at the gym would be nearly unbearable without it!
An MP3 player can be a great friend and, like a "person" friend, bring lots of enjoyment and pleasure. If you don't have one yet, a trip to your favorite electronics store might be in order.
One suggestion for first-time buyers: Don't start with the little thumb-sized units. While they work fine, reading the information on the screen is difficult. My second one, with a screen about 1 1/2" x 1 1/4", is much, much, easier to read and therefore use. The price can still be well under a hundred dollars.
Copyright 2009 Keith A. Williams