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iPod vs. MP3 Players: What's the Difference?

An iPod is really just a brand of MP3 Player, with some exclusive differences. Read on to lean more about MP3 Player Vs iPod.

PMP devices, which is short for portable music player, is a term used to describe any digital portable music player that allows you to download or save digital music files (in MP3 format) directly onto the device, or from from your computer or notebook to play on a PMP.

The category of PMP devices have replaced the larger Walkmans and portable CD players. Today, digital music players devices come in all shapes and sizes. As if we didn't have enough terminology in this category of devices already, here is another acronym for you — some PMP devices, like MP3 players, are also called DAPs, short for digital audio players.

What is an MP3 Player?

An MP3 player is a type of digital audio player that falls under the broader category of PMP devices. It is a small — often weighing less than an ounce — handheld device that use flash memory for storing MP3 files.

In addition to supporting the MP3 audio file format an MP3 player might also support additional file types such as Windows Media Audio (WMA), Waveform Audio (WAV), Music Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), Ogg Vorbis and other audio formats.

An MP3 player is basically a storage device that contains solid-state memory, like flash memory, and software that will let you transfer audio files from your computer to the player. MP3 players may also include features such as playlists, radio or Web site streaming, and basic options like being able to choose backlight color, and equalization options. MP3 players most commonly use the USB port on your computer for data transfer.

Once you transfer the music files to the player they are stored in the player's memory. To transfer music from your hard drive using a basic Mp3 Player is often as simple as copy the files to the player. Most MP3 players are battery-powered and may also come with an AC Adapter for charging. Others may be charged by plugging it in to a USB port on your computer.

Today there are also a host of other consumer devices which have an embedded MP3 player. Some examples include satellite radios, smart phones, PDAs, sunglasses, and even watches.

How is an MP3 Player Different from an iPod?

The big question then is what's the difference between an iPod and an MP3 player? The answer to that questions is that both are MP3 players, but the iPod is a specific brand of MP3 player, made by Apple that has a specific set of features and design. Since the release of the Apple iPod in 2001,  under the iPod brand Apple has released many variations of its product such as the iPod classic, iPod Touch, iPod Shuffle, iPod Mini, iPod Nano and several spin-off devices such as the iPod Photo and the popular iPhone.

Unlike most mass market MP3 players, the iPods use the Apple iTunes software to transfer music to the music devices. Using iTunes you can store a music library on your computer, burn  music from CD, transfer photos, videos, game and small applications (when supported by the player) and many other features. There are open source alternatives available to iPod users who do not want (or who cannot) run the iTunes software.




Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.





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