Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 20 models in MP3 players to see which ones perform best.
Overall score is within types, in performance order. For music players, this score is based primarily on ease of use, headphone quality, audio playback time, and damage resistance. For media players, video and picture quality is also rated and included in the overall score. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points. Tests were carried out by International Consumer Research and Testing, a worldwide group that includes Consumer Reports.
Ease of use mainly covers player characteristics that aid in convenience, versatility, and portability. These primarily include navigation and scrolling features; the accessibility and readability of the controls; and the readability and breadth of the information in the display (such as music-track data and battery-life indicator); size and weight; and ease of use while walking or jogging. Some features and capabilities considered include the presence of an FM radio, built-in microphone, upgradeable firmware, equalizer, data storage, software assessment, and the player's ability to be recognized as a hard drive by the computer without the installation of additional drivers.
Headphone quality reflects judgments from a listening panel comparing the player and its supplied headphone to a test audio CD and a high-fidelity headphone. All uncompressed (audio CD or WAV) test music sources were ripped (encoded) to MP3 format (128, 192, and 256 kbps CBR rate) using a high-quality encoder.
Audio playback time (hours) reflects lab measurements of continuous playback time to the nearest hour, using a selection of music tracks encoded to MP3 format at a 128 kbps constant bit rate (CBR); fully charged rechargeable batteries; backlight at the minimum setting; with included headphone; and volume set at a reasonable level. For players that can use standard batteries such as alkaline, expect a bit longer playback time. Our measurements should not be compared with those stated by the manufacturer, which may use different testing methods and criteria.
Damage resistance mainly reflects drop-test results; scratch- and wipe-resistance results were also considered.
Picture quality is based on evaluation of the player in indoor and outdoor setting, plus the display's viewing angle.
Motion video quality is based on evaluation of the player in indoor and outdoor setting, plus the display's viewing angle.
Video playback time (hours) reflects lab measurements of continuous video playback time to the nearest hour with fully charged rechargeable batteries. Our measurements should not be compared with those stated by the manufacturer, which may use different testing methods and criteria.
The player's height is measured to the nearest tenth of an inch, and listed the way the player would be oriented if you were viewing the screen.
The player's width is measured to the nearest tenth of an inch, and listed the way the player would be oriented if you were viewing the screen.
Prices of US$15-20 for card reader MP3 players
Several producers of memory card readers in Taiwan, including Abocom Systems and Bright Computech, have quoted US$15-20 for OEM production of MP3 players equipped with card readers, which will compete directly with higher priced MP3 players equipped with flash or HDDs (hard disk drives)Card reader MP3 players are inferior to flash-based or HDD MP3 players in terms of power consumption, quality of music and software support, local makers of flash-based MP3 players pointed out. In addition, most of small memory cards such as SD (Secure Digital), MS (Memory Stick) and CF (Compact Flash) have storage capacities of 128MB or 256MB, much lower than usually 512MB or even 1GB for flash-based MP3 players, the makers noted