Just when you thought you were getting a handle on MP3 players and the sea of file formats that you might potentially need supported on any device you purchase, along comes MP4. What are MP4 players and why would you be interested in buying one? In reality an MP4 player, also often referred to as a portable media player, is basically a MP3 player with the added capability of playing MP4 files and using video format in addition to audio.
MP4 players allow users to store movies, TV shows, music videos, and photos along with songs. Some of these devices even have FM tuners, voice recorder functions, cameras, and built-in TV tuners. The ability to view e-books, play games, access the internet and record from TV are available on some models.
The pricing of an MP4 player varies widely; from under $100 to as much as $2,000. The functions and number of file formats supported however varies widely. It is important to know what audio and video formats you will most often wish to use and which the particular device you are considering will support.
Portable Media Centers are generally the most expensive types of MP4 players and are targeted for an audience with Media Center PCs. The major drawback to portable media center devices is that they don't support DivX and XviD files.
Hard disk MP4 players offer many more features and are more popular due to this and their lower price tag. They offer a built in screen and support for WMA, MP3, DivX, and XviD files as well as others. For anyone searching for a smaller and more durable device, solid state/flash memory type MP4 players are a good choice as they have no moving parts. Files are stored in flash memory or RAM. Pricing for flash memory MP4 players tends to be higher than for the more common hard disk type players.
If cost is the primary consideration, CD/DVD players are probably a good choice. These devices offer large screens and the most reasonable pricing. They do tend to be more bulky however and can skip when jostled around.
When shopping for a MP4/portable media player, new users should put hands on several devices to determine the quality of both the video and audio playback. These features are core to a buyer's satisfaction. Screen size, resolution, and brightness can vary significantly among brands. Some screens offer widescreen viewing and others have screens which reduce glare. When looking at audio quality, the headphones on the device should also be tried. In many instances, purchasing higher quality headphones is worth the purchase price.
Memory capacity of course is also a consideration as video files in particular take up a great deal of space. A half hour TV show for instance may take up 200 MB of space. In case additional storage will be needed in the future, buyers should determine what type of storage can be used and how much it will cost.
Certainly another important factor when making a purchase is to determine which features will be most desired. For instance, will the user want to see lyrics for songs displayed during playback, would they prefer to have HD or widescreen viewing capability, is the ability to connect to the internet important, or would they make use of their MP4 device for playing games? Shoppers should think through how they want to use an MP4 player before making their selection to avoid any disappointment after their purchase.