Digital Media Players: What is the difference between MP3, MP4 and MP5?
When you’re looking for a device that will allow you to play music and perhaps also watch videos while you’re on the go, the most difficult thing is probably deciding which one to buy. There are so many different models of digital media players that it’s easy to get confused. Then there’s also the question of whether you want an MP3, MP4 or MP5 player. And what is the difference between them anyway?
MP3 players have been around for several years, so you’ve probably used one at some point, or played MP3 music files on your computer or cell phone. MP3 is a file format for audio files, which can also be played on media devices made for later file formats. Portable MP3 players are still very popular and are available as standalone devices or embedded in mobile phones, laptops and tablets, and even sunglasses, headphones, watches, pendants and many other items.
Like all media players, portable MP3 devices are available with various storage capacities. The smallest versions come with a memory chip, while there are models that let you store your entire music collection of, say, 30 gigabytes, on an internal hard drive. However, even a small 1 GB player has room for 500 tracks and also some of your favorite photos.
MP4 is also a file format, aptly named MPEG-4 Part 14, and is used to store and play videos. Therefore, an MP4 player is a significant improvement over the previous version, as it can play not only audio files, but also movies and video clips. Additionally, most models will also play files in other formats such as AVI, WMA, and WAV.
The LCD screen is usually larger than on an MP3 player, for the obvious reason that you need to be able to watch videos comfortably. A lot of MP4 media players sold these days also allow you to play games, listen to FM radio, and read e-books, as well as take photos and record videos with a built-in DV camera. Some also allow you to load a variety of external apps for a truly multifunctional experience.
Now that you can buy MP5 players too, you’re probably wondering what the extra features are and whether it’s worth buying one. One thing you should know is that there is no such thing as an MP5 file format; it is simply a trade name used by Chinese manufacturers to show that they are more advanced than MP4 players. You will also see some products that are sold as MP4/5 players; some of these are just MP4 devices with a few extra bells and whistles, while others are actually “true” MP5 players.
The general definition of an MP5 media player is one that supports a wide range of video and audio file types. This means that the user does not need to convert the file to an easily playable format, as they would with a previous generation player if they want to play something recorded in RM, RMVB, Divx, 3GP, ASF, DAF, FLAC or APE, for example. However, since there is no official definition, it is always a good idea to check the exact specification of the product before purchasing. However, many MP5s include many other extras, such as improved sound quality, so you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how much you get for your money.
Regardless of the type of portable media player you choose, make sure you’ve considered your needs first. If you just want to be able to listen to music while jogging or gardening, a small MP3 player that clips to your belt or hangs around your neck might be ideal. However, if you also like the idea of watching movies, reading or playing games while you’re on the train or just relaxing at home, you’ll need an MP4 or MP5 player. Remember that they all come with headphones, and most can also be connected to external speakers, so they can really be used in a variety of situations.