Mobile Media Players Explored

On this page, we look at a range of portable digital music players, and answer your questions on how to get more from your mobile music and speech.

There’s quite a range of handset portable audio devices out there, most notably, the Apple iPod, but on this page, we focus on the devices that as well as playing MP3 audio files and podcasts, have something extra, notably FM radio…


Apple iPhoneApple iPhone

Apple’s first mobile phone received a huge amount of press coverage when it launched in November 2007. Revolutionary touch screen user interface, full iPod functionality, and a stunning web browsing experience… but pricey and under-featured. If you want a one-box solution for music, phone and browsing, this is a serious contender and a flashy bit of kit.

Find out more on our podcast’s iPhone UK page

Handy Products: Griffin iTrip DualConnect (iPhone music on your car stereo) and Griffin Navigate (FM radio with RDS for iPhone)


Creative Zen Vision:M
Zen Vision M
Released way back in 2006, was the Creative Zen Vision:M. This has the following impressive specs:

  • 30GB capacity to carry up to 15,000 songs, tens of thousands of photos, 120 hours of video
  • 2.5 (51×39 mm) colour screen displays 262,144 colours
  • Watch digital videos (WMV9, MPEG1/2/4-SP, Motion-JPEG, compatible DivX® 4, 5 and XviD)
  • View digital photos and album art JPEG (BMP / GIF / PNG / TIFF)
  • FM radio & recorder
  • Up to 14 hours of continuous audio playback, 4 hours of continuous video playback
  • Size: Only slightly bigger than the Zen Micro, at 104 x 62 x 18.6mm

More on our Creative Zen Vision:M page


iRiver U10
iriver U10
This tiny little matchbox-sized media player supports music, videos, photos, texts, games and flash animations, and has the following impressive specs:

  • High-resolution display with 320×240 (QVGA)
  • Outstanding features: supports MP3, WMA, ASF, OGG Q10, MPEG4 SP videos, JPG photos, texts, flash games
  • Built-in FM-tuner including recording and alarm function
  • Available in 1 GB and 2 GB versions
  • Cool docking station with infrared remote control optionally available

More on our iRiver U10 page


iAudio D2 with DAB
iAudio D2 with DAB
This is a feature-packed MP3 player, video player and DAB digital radio

With either 4, 8 or 16 gig of onboard memory, the iAudio D2 supports various video and audio playback formats. It has an onboard DAB digital radio (for more listening choice), as well as an FM radio. It can be connected to your telly, and has a crisp, clear touchscreen. See our review of the iAudio
D2
.

Available from AdvancedMP3players4 Gig iAudio priced £129.99 and 8 Gig iAudio costs £149.99,


Creative MuVo Slim 256MB
Creative MuVo Slim 256MB
 

The MuVo Slim digital player / voice recorder / radio is a stylishly sleek digital music player. The super slim profile means you can slip it neatly into your pocket, briefcase or handbag and enjoy up to 8hrs of music wherever you go. And, with a built-in FM tuner you can also enjoy and record all your favourite radio shows on the go. MuVo Slim also works as a personal voice recorder, using a built-in mic for recording up to 16 hours of those all-important notes or conversations.

Mini-review

The MuVo Slim is the MP3 player I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been tempted by the i-pod, but wanted something a little smaller, and with a built-in FM radio (as there are times when I prefer listening to speech radio or news, and not just music.

The MuVo slim really is tiny – the size of a credit card (but obviously deeper). It also has the features I need – rechargeable through USB (no batteries or mains adapters needed), good FM radio, a recorder (speech via a mic, or FM radio), and enough memory for 7 or 8 CDs of music. It can also be used to transfer data files between PCs. It comes with a good bundle of bits, including a good set of headphones, a case that lets you access all of the controls while in situ, and a USB lead – see the picture below for a photo of what comes in the kit.

Dimensions (WxDxH) 5.5 cm x 0.8 cm x 8.5 cm
Headphones: Stereo, 3.5mm jack
Connection: High-speed USB
Supported Digital Audio Standards: WMA, MP3, ADPCM
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion
Built-in memory: 256MB Flash

The Creative MuVo Slim 256MB is available for £99 from John Lewis


Mikomi Dictation ET-880
Mikomi ET880
This is a small, cheap-and-cheerful digital dictation machine available in the UK via Argos. When we were looking to buy one, we couldn’t find a review, so we thought we’d create one.

For more on this unit, see our Mikomi digital voice recorder review

 

What about my old records?

USB Turntable Got a huge vinyl collection tucked away in the loft? Get yourself an ION USB turntable that connects to your PC – You can use this to transfer your old singles, albums and even 78s to MP3, WAV or WMV format – ideal for your iPod or MP3 player. Bundled software allows to you copy music at double speed, and can automatically remove crackles and noise from your records.
Available from Maplin , Firebox and
I want one of those

Update: There’s also a USB audio cassette converter available. Check out the USB Cassette converter from Firebox, Argos and Maplin.

Mobile Audio FAQ

This section includes the answers
to frequently-asked questions we’ve received…

How do I get music on my player?Napster Free TrialThere are several ways to get music onto your MP3 player…

  • You can ‘rip’ content from your CD collection – use your computer’s CD player to extract songs from your CD collection into a format that can be copied to your MP3 player.
  • You can use Windows Media Player to copy existing songs (such as MP3 files) onto your player.
  • Download music from an online music store. The most well-known music service out there is iTunes., although you may wish to opt for the mp3 format, otherwise you may find you’re tied to Apple’s AAC music format that can’t be used on other players.
  • Another store worth a look is Napster. – Follow the instructions at www.napster.co.uk. on how to find and download songs as MP3 files from their servers onto your PC, and then use Windows Media Player to copy the songs onto your audio player.
Something different to listen to?Audiobook Downloads from Audible Tired of listening to music on your player? Give your ears a treat and listen to something other than music on the move.

Perhaps try a podcast… think of these as downloadable radio shows. You could do worse than give our podcast a try – FrequencyCast is a regular podcast that you can download to your device as an MP3 file. Each show looks at UK technology and information on digital TV and radio services. Check out the latest show at www.frequencycast.co.uk

If you fancy listening to audiobooks, classic comedy or drama , try an audio book, comedy file or one of the other 18,000 audio files available from Audible.co.uk

HeadphonesIf you do lots of listening… it might be worth considering getting a decent set of headphones for your portable device, as the cheapo headphones supplied often aren’t that great.

Sennheiser Noise CancellersWe’re quite keen on Sennheiser headphones – either a set of top-quality earbuds, or if you’re budget can stretch to it – a set of noise-cancellers – especially recommended for train or plane travellers! More on the Sennheisiers on our Accessories page

If you’re after something more serious, try the Shure noise isolating earphone range.
Available from Play.com, Amazon or AdvancedMP3players – Amazing sound and great isolation from external noise. For top-of-the range cancellers, there’s the over-ear Denon AH-NC732s

Home hi-fi?If you’re looking to connect your MP3 player to your hi-fi to play back audio from your home hi-fi system, then consider using the headphone socket.
Phono & jack You’ll need to connect from the 3.5mm headphone socket to two male phono plugs. This will let you to connect to your stereo’s line level AUX input, although note that you will need to turn the headphone volume down to a low setting to avoid overloading the line-in. You can find a suitable lead at AdvancedMP3players or Maplin (Part: L32BA)
 
In car?FM TransmitterIf you want to listen to your MP3s in your car, there are a couple of options here. Probably the most elegant is to make use of a little gadget called an FM re-transmitter. These plug into your MP3 player, and transmit the audio from your player a frequency that you can tune your car radio into. Until December 2006, use of these was illegal in the UK, but Ofcom has now overturned this law, making the use of CE-approved short-range FM transmitters legal. Take a look at the range on offer from AdvancedMP3players or Play.

audio car adaptor The other option is an audio car adapter – these plug into the headphone socket of an MP3, walkman or portable CD player, and the ‘dummy’ cassette gets inserted into your car stereo’s cassette deck – the sound will be played through your car’s system.
There are several of these around. For under £10, there’s the Ross Car Cassette Adaptor from Argos, with a ‘bass boost’ feature.

Got an iPhone or an iPod Touch? You might want to take a look at the Griffin iTrip Dual Connect – This is a combined FM transmitter and car charger. It comes with a free app and lets you charge your Apple device whilst you listen to your music or podcasts.

What about my old records?USB Turntable Got a huge vinyl collection tucked away in the loft? Get yourself an ION USB turntable that connects to your PC – You can use this to transfer your old singles, albums and even 78s to MP3, WAV or WMV format – ideal for your iPod or MP3 player. Bundled software allows to you copy music at double speed, and can automatically remove crackles and noise from your records.
Available from Maplin , Firebox and
I want one of those

 

Accessories?If you’re looking for accessories for your MP3 player, such as spare headphones or a case, try AdvancedMP3players.co.uk and Amazon. There are also some excellent bargains to be had on ebay, including new clear cases – try a search on ebay.co.uk.

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