- SIMPLE - plug into your TV and go!
- SPEED - decode your videos more efficiently than the fastest PC!
- ULTRA MOBILE - maximum storage, minimum bulk!
- ECO-FRIENDLY - use next to no energy!
- COMPATIBILITY - native format support!
- CLUTTER-FREE - lose those cables!
- MONEY SAVER - cheaper than your PC!
The Media Player
These days everyone uses some form of digital media. We use digital cameras and mobile phones to capture video and images. We store our musical hits on our PC, MP3 player or iPod. Our favourite TV programs are recorded and stored ready for rainy days. But why do we still watch, listen and try to enjoy all this digital media on small laptop screens, desktop PCs tucked unsociably away in a home study with one chair, or even on our mobile phone screen. Especially while our super new 42 inch HD TV sits in an extremely comfortable living room!
That's where the media player comes in. A device for playing your digital files on a TV or Hi-Fi, a media player lets you centralise all your digital media in one hub. You can connect it to your TV or Hi-Fi and it supports almost all visual and audio files. What's more, a media player uses a lot less energy than a PC and costs a lot less too. For the less tech-savvy, a media player is much easier to use. You can simply plug it into your TV and it's ready to go. Compare this with the cables required to connect a TV to a laptop or PC and constant plugging in and unplugging between every use.
What are the differences in media players?
There are three basic types of media players: non-networked media players, networked players and internet on-demand.
Non-networked media players
These are the basic form of media player. Simply attach storage to the player from a USB hard drive, USB pen drive, SD card from your camera or an eSATA hard drive. Some media players have an internal hard drive. You can then plug into your TV using an HDMI cable and play back the files, for example music files or photos. There is no need for an internet connection with this set-up.
Slightly more advanced, networked players give you the option of playing stored files, or multimedia files from a local network or the internet, for example AppleTV. This means you can access files direct from your home desktop PC for example, or a network attached storage device (NAS). The higher spec media players have a built-in storage capacity and built-in TV tuners, giving you an instant personal video recorder (PVR)!
Accessing the internet depends on the media player as some have access to a greater number of content sites. Examples include internet radio, sites such as YouTube, and pay-on-demand video sites. Watch this space for Android based media players!
What media files can be used with a media player?
The reason media players are low cost and compact is because they are composed of a single chipset. Development of this chipset over the years has been fast and they now offer almost complete native file format support. What this means is that media players support almost all digital files and this is the key advantage over streaming support you have with some TVs, DVD players and games consoles. Take a look at just some of the supported files below.
|AAC||(Advanced Audio Coding) - digital audio format for high compression and high audio quality.|
|AIFF||(Audio Interchange File Format) - similar to WAV, it offers original sound quality and a large file size.|
|AVI||(Audio Video Interleaved) - Windows film large size file with high video quality.|
|Audible 2, 3 & 4||Audio file format for audio books and voice recordings.|
|Apple Lossless||Similar to AAC but larger file and can hold more information and quality.|
|DAT||(Digital Data Storage) - data file format for text, graphics and binary data.|
|H.264||Digital video codec for high data compression and high quality.|
|Mov||QuickTime film format.|
|MPEG-2||Audio and video file compression for film storage.|
|MP3||(MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3) - digital audio format for high compression and high audio quality.|
|MP3 VBR||(Variable Bit Rates) - for small files and high quality.|
|m4v||(MPEG-4) - video file.|
|MP4||(MPEG-4) - versatile file format for audio, video, images and animations.|
|VOB||(Video Object) - MPEG-2 DVD video film file.|
|WAV||(Wave) - gives the same large file size and sound quality and as the original CD.|