The best thing about an MP3 player for those old enough to have carried Walkman’s is the lack of moving parts. At its heart, an MP3 player is simply a data storage device that includes software to play music, video and more. The basic elements of an MP3 player include a power supply, amplifier, audio port, playback controls, display, digital signal processor, microprocessor, memory and a data port.
The microprocessor is what runs your MP3 player. It is the motherboard of the unit. To operate, it pulls a song from the hard drive, decompresses it using the format explained above, runs it through the software and then plays the song through the speakers or headphones. This works the same for the video files, photo files and games.
Now that you know the answer to how an MP3 player works, you can choose what kind you want. Flash memory players are smaller, lightweight devices that offer music, video and a battery that can last for up to 28 hours. Hard drive and Mini-hard drive players are slightly larger and holds a lot more storage. These include the iPods and can hold as many as 20,000 songs but typically have shorter battery life. There are also new hybrid MP3 players that mixes the typical MP3 player, as you get with an iPod, with a satellite radio, DVD players and even some that are built into sunglasses.