Portable Multimedia Players

These days, portable media players are everywhere. Devices such Apple's iPhone manage to pack video and picture playback into common everyday devices, whereas units such as the Creative Zen Vision W offer a more dedicated media playback solution.

These days, portable media players are everywhere. Devices such Apple's iPhone manage to pack video and picture playback into common everyday devices, whereas units such as the Creative Zen Vision W offer a more dedicated media playback solution.

It isn't really surprising. After digital music took off it was only a matter of time before people began to demand more than just audio files while on the move. Fortunately companies have responded in kind and these days there are a host of feature sets, supported formats, screen sizes and control schemes to choose from.

Whatever your needs, there is a device on the market for you, the hard part is finding the right one. This Buying Guide will help you quickly come to terms with what you really need to know: what's available, what features are worth looking out for, and which player is right for you. So, let's investigate...

Types of Portable Media Players

The Portable Media Players (PMPs) you've most likely come across usually rest in two hands and although they include must-have features like built-in speakers and batteries, it's the screen that's the centrepiece. These displays are usually about 2-3.5in, but are also available up to a massive 8in widescreen - requiring deep pockets both figuratively and literally.

Most of the bigger PMPs use various mini hard disks that store 15-100GB or more of information, and/or they might rely on media cards to provide or expand storage.

As a rough guide, a 30GB PMP has enough capacity for about 6500 songs, 120 hours of video or 300,000 photos.

Additionally, most will support Windows XP and even earlier versions of Windows. If you're a Mac or Linux user, you'll need to double-check support, but in many instances you should be fine.

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