mp3 players

Portable Digital
A digital music player is a portable small to restore music, and in some cases videos and images stored as computer files, usually using a special compression format (usually MP3, "MP3 player" is in practice synonymous with "digital music player").

The digital audio players can reproduce only the audio (music, voice, etc..). They are commonly known as MP3 players or even just MP3, referring to the first digital audio file format known to the general public, MP3. More rarely, they can also be called MP3 Jukebox. MP3 is the format most widely read by all players, but it is not the most effective way to compress the audio, particularly with a very low speed (bit rate), while maintaining good audio quality . Some players can play files in formats more optimized: Apple iPods and Sony Walkmans read AAC, other players reading the proposed WMA or OGG files.

The digital audio players can use it to listen to radio (eg in the form of podcasts), audio books and any kind of digital audio content such as scientific papers and lectures. Several audio content can be downloaded from the Internet.

The more advanced digital music players can reproduce, in addition to audio, other types of digital content such as videos and photos. They are commonly referred to as portable media players (PMP or, Portable Multimedia Player in English) or sometimes even of MP4 players. All "MP4 players" are not compatible with the MP4 files.

Personal music players have additional functions such as recording audio (for use as a dictaphone for example) or the FM tuner (to listen to the radio).

The players equipped with flash memory or hard drive can act as USB sticks and used for mass storage (see other types of mass storage to the table-cons). It is then possible to use a portable digital data backup and transport files from one computer to another.

The main components of a player are:

* A storage unit designed to save the files. It consists of components of flash memory, a hard disk or sometimes a CD-ROM.
The players with flash memory are more compact than the portable hard drive and generally have a lower storage capacity (usually between 128 MB and 32 GB, or about 30 to 8000 songs).
The Hard drive players have between four and 320 GB of memory. At the same capacity, they are generally less expensive than flash, but they are more fragile, more sensitive to shock, and consuming more energy, reducing their autonomy. Their data access time is also longer.

* A specialized processor in the digital-analog conversion associated with an audio amplifier.

* One compartment for batteries or a battery, which operate independently.

* An interface for communication with a computer (USB or FireWire, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, etc..).

* The control buttons and generally monitor. On media players, the screen is larger to enable viewing of videos and pictures.

* An audio jack for headphones.

* For some, a small microphone to record sounds.

Storing digital music consumer is in 1982 when Philips and Sony sell the compact disc (CD) and share the royalties. But the marriage of two giants is of short duration, because the mid-90s, everyone wants to impose a new medium, which is the recordable time. After the failure of the DAT Sony, Philips is trying to launch the DCC, another cassette tape with digital sound (the traditional cassettes are analog). Meanwhile, Sony is trying to impose a new medium: the MiniDisc. This simple little magneto-optical disk, enclosed in a protective housing, is still marketed today as Philips has stopped marketing the DCC in recent years.

To fit as much music on a MiniDisc as a classical CD, Sony had to compress the sound, that is to say, eliminate anything that the human ear can hear. Finally, we obtain a result very close to the original music. Sold expensive, MiniDisc players remain long reserved for an elite. In addition, the albums in this format quickly disappear from the shelves. But the hardest blow against the Sony stand is the arrival of MP3. The audio from the computer, which, like the MiniDisc ATRAC format, compress the sound, enables millions of Internet users swap music over the Internet through the file size very small.

The first player to take advantage of MP3 technology is marketed under the name of Mpman Asia and branded Eiger Labs in the United States in 1998. However, the same year, the manufacturer of computer hardware Diamond brand minds with the release of its Rio PMP 300. This model has only 32 MB of memory, about 30 minutes of music. However, a connector allows the addition of 16 MB (quarter of an hour of music) using a flash card of the same type as those of digital cameras. In competition with the MiniDisc, and although offered at a lower price, the order of 150-230 € (1000 to 1500 francs at the time), it fails to penetrate to the general public. Soon, many brands are copying the concept and run other MP3 players with flash memory. The main barrier to their success is the cost of memory cards, sometimes as high as that of players. However, there are still many models of drives of this type, which can pick up several gigabytes of music.

In 1999, a California company, Remote Solutions, announces, amidst general indifference, the output of the first portable hard drive. She is soon challenged by two other companies: Creative and Archos. The jukebox Creative have dimensions comparable to portable CD players while Archos approach the dimensions of cassette players. These MP3 players, precursors, know their little success, mainly from the IT community. Despite attempts to Thomson (RCA, USA) and Philips, it is necessary to popularize the concept of portable hard disk, waiting the arrival of another major player: Apple. The American brand is launching the iPod in 2001. Its design, its simplicity and the reputation of its manufacturer have greatly helped the success of this player slim. The first models boarded 5 and 10 GB of music, or 83-170 hours!

Meanwhile, the portable CD player knows one of his most important developments, with the emergence of players that can decode the burned CDs (CD-R and CD-RW) and filled with MP3 files. Philips is one of the first brands to release a CD-MP3 player, but Asian brands unknown to the general public, such as NAPA, are the first to launch their own models. CD players are bulky, some brands are also trying to impose readers-writers mini-CD, with diameters less than twice that of a conventional CD.

On the other hand, the computer industry is desperate to replace the good old 1.44 MB Companies like Iomega or Syquest know a short success, with professionals before giving the public refusing to pay too expensive for floppy disks 100MB or more. The USB key makes everyone agrees. Convenient, easy, universal, it allows users to save and share tens, hundreds or even thousands of megabytes of data ... and so many tens / hundreds of minutes of music! Very quickly the manufacturers are changing the USB key by adding a headphone jack and the navigation keys ... to make a ultra-compact MP3 player. USB keys had several versions, some do not integrate the USB cable and requires linking them to the computer. Apple is investing in the market with the Shuffle, a player without a screen, with the current version includes a clip to attach to clothing.

In this period, the mobile phone is equipped with sound quality and enough memory to become a new type of player. Its user accessing the Internet through the same equipment, may charge anywhere a wide choice of listening.

See also PDA