MP3 and Media Players

MP3 Vs Media Players and soon the 'twain shall meet

Today's advanced MP3 players have become high capacity mobile storage devices. Large capacity MP3 player's micro hard-drives can hold gigabytes of data. Shrinking disc drives, coupled with ultra fast synch options like USB 2.0 and fire wire, has paved the way for these devices to begin rivaling the capacity of some PCs. Connecting a high capacity MP3 player via USB to a PC running Windows can turn the player into an alternate drive letter, if the firmware of the device permits. This gives the MP3 player the ability to send/receive files of any type. It was only a matter of time before advanced MP3 players were fitted with an LCD screen and given the ability to display photos and take pictures with an attached camera.

An artificial line is drawn between the MP3 player and the Media Player with the ability to playback full motion video. The full fledged Media Player is a mobile device that plays digital video, as well as MP3s. The Pocket PC on the other hand, although performing both the MP3 and video playback functions, must also run an operating system like Windows Mobile or Palm OS.

Purists and assorted tech snobs cite the internal micro hard drive as the dividing line between the Pocket PC and the MP3 player. They would say that any real Pocket PC and other mobile media devices, including cell phones, should only use solid state memory. Pocket PCs and Smart-phones with built in MP3 playback are starting to use micro hard drives- heresy for some mobile users . Some mistakenly believe that flash Rom, solid state or chip based storage is the only reliable to way to store data and that the hard drive makes any mobile device a second class citizen.

The age old prejudice is that the micro hard drive is more prone to failure, can be upset by motion or impact, and has a limited lifespan. The reality is that early micro drives may have been problematic, but newer drives are much more reliable. Since most devices employ some form of over sampling, any intermittent hiccups caused by the device should be sampled out of existence so the listener never hears a stutter or pause. As for longevity, the battery will fail long before the hard drive

Most of today's micro-HDD gadgets will be featured in the Smithsonian Institute long before their hard drives wear out. The biggest reason to consider a device with a micro hard drive is the price. Even the most stubborn Pocket PC purist will soften their convictions when faced with a price comparison of the next high capacity handheld. High capacity (1 Gig or more) solid state options cost hundreds more than its' hard drive space equivalent, and as the technologies on both storage methods improve, the micro HDD will hover around half the price of solid state memory.