MP3 players were a game-changer when it came to being able to listen to music on-the-go. These portable audio devices were easy to use and relatively inexpensive when compared to previous devices using cassette or CDs. Today MP3 players are recognized as the standard way to listen to music while traveling, exercising, jogging or even swimming. They are used by people throughout the world regardless of age or gender and can be found in large department stores as well as the corner drugstore or online.
The first MP3 player (also known as a digital audio player) was mass produced in 1997 by SaeHan Information Systems, a South Korean company. It was licensed to others and the Rio PMP300 from Diamond Multimedia came out in September of 1998 and was a success for the holiday season. Additional companies then began to produce their own MP3 players for the consumer market.
Advantages of MP3 Player
An MP3 player uses flash memory, which is a solid-state memory that has no moving parts. This provides for a vibration and shake free listening experience. This is unlike the way a cassette player or a CD player works; both using motors to move a physical item (cassette, CD) which is being used to listen to. These portable players are subject to shock and so were less effective as portable players when compared to the MP3 player.
Success of iPod
While the Apple iPod was not the first MP3 player to come to market (introduced in 2001), its success came as a result of both clever design and clever marketing. Apple brought the iPod to the public not as an electronics device but as a lifestyle product to make one's life better. There was no "geek" barrier between the iPod and the average consumer to inhibit or scare him/her away.
Significance of iPod
The iPod did not require the user to figure out how to get the music onto the portable player. Apple created a synergy between the iPod and the iTunes software, running on the Mac computer. This combination worked together in a simple fashion that made the process of putting music on the iPod easy and fast. This furthered the use of the iPod as a practical way to carry music on the go, and made it stand out not as just one of the MP3 players, but on its own.
As MP3 players have taken over for other portable devices, so too has the expectation of the quality of the audio dropped. The MP3 audio format is a compressed format that removes those areas of the "sound" which the average listener can not hear, and so in this way the overall audio file is made much smaller. This allows for more audio to be put on the portable player. As an adjunct to this, earphones have given way to inexpensive earbuds, which do not convey the audio with much clarity or quality. The overall audio is now more of a convenience for listening than it is of a high quality for hearing it in the best possible fashion.
MP3 players have become more than just music machines by also doing video. But for use on-the-go when music is all that is desired, it might be best to buy a simple MP3 player rather than one with all the bells and whistles. This will simplify its use, especially in situations where a player could get damaged such as running or during sport activities.
There is a tendency to turn up the volume of a MP3 player so as to "drown" out surface noises. This can be dangerous, both in how it makes it hard to hear what is going on around a person out on the street, as well as furthering possible damage to the eardrums.
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