In case you’ve been held hostage in somebody’s basement for the past year, there’s a new music format that’s taking the Internet by storm, called MP3. This format lets you compress CD quality music into a relatively small amount of memory or disk space, from where it can then be played back using a piece of software called, surprisingly, an MP3 player.
Or a piece of hardware, also called an MP3 player, like this one. Basically, it’s a lump of technology about the size of two matchboxes which contains 64MB of memory and the necessary hardware to play MP3 files. You load MP3 files onto the machine by connecting it to your PC using the supplied serial cable and transfer software. How many MP3s? Well, that’s all down to the compression ratio – better quality sound requires more memory and vice versa. Without going into too much detail about compression algorithms and such tosh we reckon you can get about half an hour of top notch music into 64MB, or about one and a half hours of fair quality tunes. It all depends how finely tuned your ears are and what kind of music you’re listening to.
The device is well built and has a stylish black and chrome design. It features a small LCD display which lets you know what you’re listening to and how much longer it’s got to play – it also provides a control menu for managing files stored in the device’s memory. Handily it features a lock button, which prevents the various buttons from doing anything if accidentally knocked whilst the machine is bouncing about in your bag or pocket. As well as playing back music, the device also features a voice record facility which can record up to about two hours of speech. The important thing about this feature is that you can describe the device as a digital Dictaphone and get away with claiming one as a necessary business item on your expenses claim. Well, you can if you’re a journalist at any rate.
Now, the next question is, where do we get music stored in MP3 format? Why, the internet of course! You’ll find absolutely stacks of free music on the web and not all of it is completely crap, just about 90 percent. If you want to listen to anything half decent, you’ll need to get an MP3 encoding package (there are several good free ones) which enables you to convert your CD collection into MP3 format.
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1) It's illegal to distribute MP3 copies of your CD collection.
2) It's probably illegal to make MP3 copies of your CD collection, even for personal use.
3) The "personal use" argument never impresses the judge, even if it is true.