|Low: $25-$150||Medium: $150-$300||High: $300-$500|
MP4 players, also known as Digital Media Players or Portable Media Players (PMP), are essentially next generation MP3 players capable of playing videos as well as MP3 audio files. Many do not actually play MP4 (otherwise known as MPEG-4 part 14) files but rather MP3s and video formats such as WMV or AVC. The Digital Media Player market is dominated by Apple and its video iPods (see How Much Do iPods Cost for more details). However, many other manufacturers offer viable alternatives, varying in price according to screen and memory size as well as additional features such as FM tuner, camcorder or internet browser.
Related articles: MP3 Player, MP3, iPod
- The less expensive MP4 players tend to use a flash-based memory rather than a hard-drive. While these players have no moving parts that can get be damaged during a busy commute, for example, they also offer less storage space. Expect to pay $25 to $100 for a flash-based MP4 player with a screen size of 2.5 inches or less. The Sony E Series Walkman , for example, costs $64 to $80 for the 8GB version, enough to hold about 4 hours of video, or $100 for the 16GB model. It features a 2-inch screen, built-in FM tuner and supports MPEG-4 as well as AVC and WMV video formats.
- More feature-packed flash memory MP4 players cost $75 to $150. Expect a unit that offers a larger screen and expandable memory. The Creative Zen X-Fi with wireless LAN offers wireless streaming from a PC and an integrated 16GB flash memory that can be augmented by adding an SD or SDHC memory card. With a 2.5-inch screen this unit costs about $100.
- A mid-level MP4 player offers greater storage capacity, suitable for frequent traveling on public transport. Expect to pay $150 to $300 for a unit with 16 to 64GB of hard drive memory and a screen size of at least 2.5-inches. The Zune HD32 costs about $230 with a 3.3-inch 16:9 widescreen display and 32GB of hard drive memory, enough to store up to 48 hours of SD (standard-definition) video or 10 hours of HD (high-definition) video. It also offers web browsing, HD radio connectivity and is compatible with the MP4 format.
- High-end MP4 players offer larger screens enabling them to effectively compete with portable DVD players, making them suitable for extended viewing during flights or long commutes. Expect to pay $300 to $500 for this type of MP4 player. The Archos 5 Internet Tablet offers a 5-inch touch-screen display, supports MPEG-4 up to 720p HD resolution as well as WMV and AKV formats. It also offers web browsing, GPS navigation and web TV connectivity. With a 500GB hard drive, the unit costs about $485.
What should be included:|
- MP4 players typically come with a battery and ear buds (or headphones). If special software or drivers are needed to load video or music onto the player, it should be included.
- As with MP3 players, there are many accessories available for MP4 players, including protective cases, armbands, car adapters, portable chargers and external speakers. Many home theater components now come equipped with digital media player docking ports. There are also many different speakers designed especially for iPods. See How Much Do iPod Speakers Cost.
- Noise-canceling headphones or ear buds cost from $20 to $500.
- Renting movies or TV shows to view on an MP4 player costs $1 to $5. Purchasing movies or TV shows costs $3 to $20 or more.
- Purchasing music costs from 30 cents to $1 per song. See: How Much Does an MP3 Cost.
- Some flash-memory players have the capacity to add extra memory; an 8 GB memory card that adds enough space for about 4 hours of video costs $30 to $60.
- Accessories such as protective cases cost $20 to $50 or more.
Shopping for an mp4 player:
- Some manufacturers such as Archos offer refurbished MP4 players at a discounted price.
- New models are released frequently, which can often lead to sharp price drops on older models.
- Cnet lists its favorite models.
- Since many devices that fall under the umbrella term "MP4 players" do not actually play MP4 files, always check the specifications clearly before purchasing if compatibility is important.
- Find competitive prices online at sites such as Amazon then look for comparable or discounted prices at local electronics retailers such as Best Buy .
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