One question that hangs in the balance right now is which way are MP3 players going to go?
This may not be as simple or complex a question as it seems. It has a lot to do with your decision of which model to go for and what player to support. The current hegemony of iPod may make this question totally redundant but their proprietary iTunes download music format does raise questions about supporting models for buying music that are totally anti-competitive and tend to pin the buyer down to one or two formats and a general inability to use their music files the way they want to.
Microsoft’s Zune player has promised not to go down that path, thus allowing buyers the freedom to choose how they listen to their music, who they buy it from and with whom they choose to share.
Apart from format the other question is wireless integration and hands-free kits adoption. MP3 players which can be integrated in the increasing range of wireless home entertainment networks (and here Zune has a jump on the iPod) stand a better chance of acting as ultra-portable mega-useful entertainment devices.
So is there anything you can do to future proof your MP3 purchase? Well, it really depends on the amount of money you are spending. If you’re spending on a budget you are a little trapped to upgrades as MP3 players degrade (particularly the Flash-based models) and models and features change fast.
Spend a little more however and here the choices become wider. You then get to choose the format you want to be bound to (are you happy being tied to iTunes for the rest of your listening life?) the flexibility you have in terms of accessories and interlinking with network devices that range from laptops to wireless home networks and portable PCs.
In a sense your choice of MP3 player whether it is a Rio, MSI, Zen , Sony, Zune or iPod will go some way towards determining the future of music downloads and MP3 devices in general.
So choose carefully. Think at length and when you do make a decision make sure you understand that your purchase is making history.
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