MP4 Player

In the last decade or so, the term MP3 player has become almost synonymous with handheld portable music device in the same way that the word Kleenex has come to mean tissue or Scotch tape has come to mean household tape. Though MP3 is the generic term, portable music playing devices have actually branched out. This technology now has a successor – the MP4 player.

Not only can this naming scheme be confusing to consumers, who are accustomed to called portable music devices, MP3′s, but it can also be misleading. The file format associated with MP3 players, is called “.mp3.” A file format called “.mp4″ exists, but, confusingly, is not compatible with the MP4 player. For all intents and purposes, it is simplest to think of the MP4 player as so named because it represents a successor to popular MP3 technology.

So far, MP4′s do not seem to have gained too much popularity in the United States. Most devices, in fact, are manufactured in China. This is such a phenomenon that entire websites had sprang up devoted to helping MP4 users in the United States understand the capabilities of their Chinese made MP4 player. This seems to be the case partly because these Chinese made MP4 players do not come with complete and thorough instructions.

For example, one Chinese made product is the Plug-in Car MP4 player. These are made, you guessed it, for use in the car. Oddly enough, as they have no jacks and no power source, they are unusable anywhere else. So, you ask, how do you load music on your MP4 player if there are no data jacks? Oddly enough, this device comes equipped with only one data slot – for a SD Ram card. Secure Digital (otherwise known as SD) is a memory card format. These memory cards are a type of technology known as non-volatile, simply meaning that they can store information even when not powered. Originally developed by the electronics companies Toshiba, Matsushita, and SanDisk, SD Cards are used to store information from portable devices such as handheld computers, digital cameras, PDAs, media players, mobile phones, GPS receivers, video game consoles and almost every other small electronic device imaginable. That includes, of course, MP4 players.

This Chinese made MP4 player also comes with a 1.5 inch screen and, as some consumers have complained, annoyingly low resolution. It works as a standard FM tuner, meaning that you tune your car radio to a certain, unused frequency and then program the MP4 player to match. This technology is not as choice as the simple car MP3 (or MP4) data jack, because it is often prone to interruption or interference from other FM radio signals.

Like their MP3 counterparts, MP4 players do not just play music. In some cases, depending on the model, they also allow users to watch videos, listen to the radio, and store and access computer data, such as 2D and 3D animated content.

Though MP4 may seem like MP3 plus, one of its big advantages is that it is open source. When knowledge is “open source’ it means that the manufacturers or inventors have opened up the schematics of the technology for everyone to see. By default, that generally means that people tinker with, experiment on, and generally improve (or sometimes invent weird variations on), the technology. The fact that MP4 technology is open source means that there are already a vast number of tools supporting the technology, including Mac, Linux, PocketPC and Windows, among countless others.

No matter what, it remains to be seen whether MP4 players will catch on the way MP3 players did.

This MP4 Player Review is Written/Updated on Jul 6th, 2009 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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