MP3 Players    

Your Key to Endless, Free, CD-Quality Tunes

Envision this: a palm-sized device that enables you to quickly download — for free — your favorite music and then play it back whenever you want without skipping a beat (literally, you won't skip a beat because MP3 players don't have any moving parts). From garage bands to major recording artists, it's all at your fingertips. It's MP3.

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  • Tons of Titles and Artists
    Log on to Internet sites distributing MP3 recordings and you will be exposed to tens of thousands of recordings from thousands of artists. Selections range from unknown garage bands to mega-stars. Loads of audio books are available, too. There's something for everyone.

    Some MP3 recordings are free for the taking (singles promoting a whole album, a new artist's work, or a star's special recording). Some of it is for sale (whole albums, hard-to-find classics, audio books, etc). And much of it is available for sampling. Many artists choose to distribute their work through MP3 sites because it allows them to record without any involvement from music promoters and sell directly to the public without paying royalties (the same reasons big-time record labels aren't too happy with the popularity of the MP3 format).

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    Download It All
    Millions have downloaded MP3 recordings from the Internet. And experts predict the number to double in the near future now that portable MP3 players are available. It's all so simple. All you need is a computer, a connection to the Internet and a Web browser (i.e., Netscape or Internet Explorer).

    To download MP3 recordings to your computer hard drive, you'll need the free software (freeware) available at any of the many Internet sites distributing MP3 recordings (see below, "Where Can I Find MP3 Recordings?"). After you install the software (it only takes a couple minutes), you will be able to download a three-minute song with a 56.6 modem in less than eight minutes.

    Another type of software lets you convert music from CDs to the MP3 format and save them to your computer (see below, "Can I Record My Own?"). Once they're on your hard drive, they're like any computer file. But unless you have a portable player, you will be stuck listening to your favorite books and music through your computer speakers.

    To take your tunes on the road, simply connect a portable MP3 player to your computer's parallel port and use the on-screen drag-and-drop controls to create your own portable recording mix. Better MP3 player/recorders allow you to download as much as one hour of music or four hours of audio books (record even more with additional plug-in memory units). This memory is re-writeable, too — which means you can erase and re-record as many times as you like without any loss of sound quality.

    Take It Bungie Jumping
    A portable MP3 player is like a Walkman or MiniDisc player, only much lighter and smaller. Most are as small as a cassette tape and weigh only about as much as a candy bar. They'll easily fit in the palm of your hand or inconspicuously in a shirt pocket.

    Take one anywhere, and don't worry about skips or scratches. These players have the ultimate in shockproof technology: no moving parts. Take it jogging or bungie jumping. You won't miss a beat.

    High-quality headphones are included. And better-quality player/recorders can go for as long as 10 to 12 hours before you will need to recharge or replace the one or two AA batteries that provide all the power.

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        Key Features    
    • Power Source: Some models are powered by a single AA battery, some use two.
    • Size: Most models are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or inconspicuously in a shirt pocket.
    • Memory: Most players come with at least 32MB of memory built-in (enough to record as much as 60 minutes of music or 16 hours of audio books), and many offer the ability to dramatically increase that with simple plug-in memory units.
    • Software Included: The "MP3-player" software for downloading MP3 recordings from the Internet to a computer is available for free from any of the Internet sites that distribute MP3 recordings. The software necessary for uploading your own CDs to a computer in an MP3 format is included with some models and also available on the Internet for about $20.
    • LCD Screen: This built-in feature displays music title information.

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        Frequently Asked Questions    

    How Does It Sound?
    These are high-quality digital recordings, just like CDs. You won't be able to tell the difference between the original CD and an MP3 recording.

    Where Can I Find MP3 Recordings?
    You will find tens of thousands of recordings from thousands of artists on a number of popular Internet distribution sites (mp3.com, goodnoise.com and musicmatch.com, to name a few).

    Some of the recordings are free for the taking (singles promoting a whole album, a new artist's work or a star's special recording). Some you have to buy (whole albums, hard-to-find classics, audio books, etc). And many of the recordings you can sample before you decide if you want them or not.

    Can I Record My Own?
    Yes. The software necessary to upload your personal CDs as MP3 files to your computer comes with some portable players and is also available for about $20 on the Internet.

    Is This Legal?
    Yes. Downloading MP3 files from legitimate Internet distribution sites is completely legal (even the free stuff). Uploading your personal CDs to your computer in an MP3 format is completely legal, too. It's illegal, however, to share your MP3 files recorded from your CDs with others without the "explicit permission" of the copyright holder.

    What Is MP3?
    Basically, MP3 is a technology that allows large audio files to be compressed to 1/12th their original size so they're easy to download and convenient to store on your computer — like Zip compression files. It's an open-standard format, which means no one group controls the technology. MP3 stands for MPEG-1, layer 3. MPEG stands for Moving Pictures Experts Group, a committee that is part of the International Standards Organization.

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        Glossary    

    Audio Book
    A book that has been read out loud (often by the author) and recorded.

    Digital Recording
    Analog recordings (like cassette tapes) use wavy electrical signals, which are sensitive to any interference. Digital recordings use binary signals that flash "on" or "off." There's little chance for interference with digital signals. And less interference means the music will be cleaner and crisper.

    Drag-and-Drop Controls
    An on-screen user interface that allows the user to move an object or icon into another in order to initiate a process.

    Hard Drive
    A computer's main data storage device.

    MB of Memory
    MB stands for megabyte, a common measurement of computer storage equaling 1,048,576 bytes. Also known as a "meg."

    MinDisc
    MiniDiscs offer high-quality digital sound equal to that of a CD. They hold the same amount of information as a CD, yet they're almost half the size and less prone to skipping when bumped. MiniDiscs come prerecorded with music, just like CDs, or — unlike CDs — blank for digital recording. They will not work in a CD player. They require a special MiniDisc player/recorder unit.

    MP3 Recordings
    These are digital music and voice recordings that have been super compressed to 1/12th their original size using MP3 technology (MPEG-1, layer 3), the same type of compression technology used to create MiniDiscs. They're like computer files (with a .mp3 extension) and can be played back on a computer or an MP3 player.

    MP3 Sites
    These are Internet sites that distribute MP3 music and voice recordings.

    Web Browser
    A software that gives access to, and navigation tools for, the World Wide Web — or Internet.

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