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Types of MP3 Players: What Should I Buy?

written by: Rochelle Connery•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/21/2011

There are different types of MP3 players for every need. Just want to listen to music? There’s an MP3 player dedicated to just that. Want to get a little more out of your listening experience? Get an MP3 player that does more than just host your playlists.

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    What Types of MP3 Players Can I Choose From?

    There are plenty of types of MP3 players to choose from if you’re shopping for a new portable media device. There’s the minimal need kind that plays MP3’s and nothing else. Then there are MP3 players that also play certain video formats and display your photos. And last but not least, there are MP3 players that have cellular phone capabilities, making for an all-purpose MP3 player.

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    Music-Only Players

    Devices like the iPod shuffle are ideal for people who only want a music player with no fancy bells and whistles. Very little can go wrong on a device that only has to shuffle your music and play at different volumes.

    But don’t think of yourself as minimalist if you want this type of device. Most music-only players are great for working out, especially if you don’t have an armband or a big pocket. They’re easy to stick in a purse or pocket for listening to on the go or while on an airplane.

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    Music Plus Video and Photo

    MP3 players like the Sansa Fuze and the iPod nano do more than just play MP3 files. The Sansa Fuze is capable of playing video in MP4 formats and displaying photos in a slideshow. The screen is pretty small, so you don’t want to make a habit of watching all your movies this way, but it’s better than nothing if you’re bored.

    The iPod nano comes preloaded with a few games that also take care of the boredom. Like the Fuze, the nano also plays photos and certain types of video – chiefly MP4.

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    Music and Much More

    Some of the most popular types of MP3 players are those that accommodate thousands of different apps, games, movies and photos. Devices like the iPod touch and Microsoft Zune fit into this category and are among the most popular devices in the world.

    These devices generally feature wireless connectivity too, which enables you to browse the internet or download new games whenever you’re near a Wi-Fi hotspot.

    These types of MP3 players generally need at least eight gigabytes of storage. If you need more, you’ll have to buy a model with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage built-in. They have a small processor built in to speed up the game-playing process, but this can wear out after prolonged use.

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    Music, Apps and Cell Phone Capability

    The iPhone, Google Android, BlackBerry, Samsung HTC models and a host of other cell phone types are typically types of MP3 players. They might even play WMA, WMV, WAV, MP4 and AVI files.

    These devices are multipurpose in that they serve as a cell phone, an internet browsing tool, music player and application hub. You’ll need to recharge the lithium ion batteries constantly if you plan to make use of these for hours each day, but they’re your best technological friend for as long as they hold a charge.

    Most of these devices carry over the same features of their smaller predecessors. They display photos, play slideshows and might even feature a camera and video recording options.

    Each of these types of MP3 players get more expensive with every added benefit. Smaller players might cost as little as $30 while more expensive types might range up to $600 or more, depending on whether you purchase a cell phone plan along with it.