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5 Digital Music Fridays

Digital Music Fridays: April 3

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Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Music Player 

Everywhere I go nowadays on the subway, I see people with an Apple music player of some kind. Various iPods, iPhone and the iTouch are certainly popular. I on the other hand use a traditional MP3 player or a Windows Mobile device for listening to music. For me, it has always been a Microsoft Windows CE based PDA for listening to music. There are a number of reasons why I stay with a Windows Mobile device but the main one is that most of my music is in a  Mp3 format.

What does this mean anyways when MP3 files are a popular file format?

When I first started out in listening to digital Mp3 music on a mobile device, this was true but now there are a number of different music file formats that are more popular now. What does this mean for someone that is just getting into buying a digital music player for the first time?

First not all file formats are created equal. To start, someone has to take the original music from the CD or another audio source and convert the audio file into a digital music file that can be played as a file on a PC or digital music player. Various file formats have been created over the years to balance the level of sound quality and the amount of file storage required for the song.

Originally the MP3 file format was one that was favored to minimize the file size over maintaining maximum sound quality since memory was limited and expensive. The trick was to remove the very high and the very low frequencies that would be least missed in the overall songs sound quality. This lead to a music file being approximately 1 megabyte per 1 minute of music (lossy). Newer more audio rich file formats (lossless) are closer to 10 megabytes per minute of music.  If you plan on buying a new music player nowadays, they start with around 2 gigabytes and go up in storage capacity built in. 2 gigabytes can store almost 2000 MP3 files but only about 200 lossless audio files. It would make sense to get music in a lossless file format if the sound quality is very important to you.  If you are considering buying a non Apple music player, make sure the file format you plan to listen to is supported on the music player first since each maufacturer has their own selection of file formats supported.

One popular format that has about a 2:1 file compression format is the Apple AAC. This format is used by all Apple products and other third party music players. File sizes are large but the sound quality is definately superior over standard MP3 file formats. The important issue to note is that all digital music players are created to handle certain file formats only. Therefore you truly need to understand the formats and get a music player that supports the file format you will be using and be aware how or where you intend to get the music files from.

If you have a large collection of CD music then you can spend the time to convert the music to the appropriate file format. Use the software that comes with the music player or download any of the dozens available online. This process is very time consuming and can easily takes days if not weeks for a large music collection. Most people now download from various commercial websites like the Apple iTunes Store. This saves you the hassle of converting your CD to a music file and also easier to get and organize your music. 

The trend now is to get an Apple music player of some kind for the convenience and the great sound quality. The only down side for some is the higher price tag for the devices compared to other music players on the market. Before you jump into this category, do your homework and decide which file format works best for you based on price of the device and file access convenience.

HERE is a good link to more information about the various digital music file formats.  

New Nintendo DSi Coming Soon 

 

Nintendo DSi - Image: Globe and Mail

Nintendo DSi - Image: Globe and Mail

 

Looks like Nintendo continues to innovate and produce new products that consumers will flock to. With the economy the way it is, it is good to see a major manufacturer stepping up to the plate with a new offering in the mobile device market. The latest offering has :

- A slightly larger screen. (8.25 cm. now instead of the 7.6 cm. on the older DSLite).

- Dual camera. One facing the user and one on the outside.

- Standard SD memory card slot. Supports 4 Gig on up.

- Support for music playback. The Apple AAC file format is supported. No Mp3.

The DSi continues to support the touch screen feature and is slightly thinner over the older DSLite. At an expected $200.00 Canadian price tag, Not sure how popular this will be at first but it will do well in the long run with access to over 850 games already available on the DS platform. You can go HERE for more details.

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