The current generation of portable digital audio players come in three basic flavors: flash memory players, hard disk players, and MP3-capable CD players.
Flash memory is a special type of memory that’s used in many portable electronic devices, including most digital cameras, cell phones, and handheld computers. Unlike the RAM in your computer, flash memory retains information even when the power is turned off, which is important for any battery-powered device.
Portable players that use flash memory have no moving parts, which means good shock resistance and skip-free playback. Most flash memory players are small enough to fit in your pocket, and some, like the Creative MuVo Slim (see Figure 7-2), are thin enough to fit in your wallet. Despite their smaller size, many flash memory players include additional features such as voice recording and FM radios.
If you need more than 256 MB of storage, you’ll quickly reach the price range of hard disk players that can hold 10 to 20 times more music. Unless you really need the shock resistance or the small size of a flash memory player, a hard disk player is a much better value.
Most flash memory cards are the size of a matchbook or smaller, and some, such as CompactFlash cards, can hold up to 4 GB (roughly 70 hours of audio, or about 1,200 songs). At the current rate of development, you can expect flash memory capacity to double every year and a half. In less than 10 years, you should ...