The Essential Features of a Media Player

The media player market is growing with new arrivals every month, all boasting new features and functions. With so many media players to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what features are important to you and which others you can live without. We hope that this article will guide you through the different features and technologies offered to help you to make an informed choice to get the best performance and value for money. So if you are unsure about the terms used in the specifications you see listed for different players, read on.


Probably the key source of confusion about media players is regarding the formats they are capable of playing. Your own files will have an extension at the end of the file name which will give you an idea but sometimes extensions such as .mkv and .avi can be containers for files encoded in a range of different ways. The more common formats for high definition content tend to be .mkv and .mp4, and almost all modern players are capable of handling these files. We will always aim to point out if a player we cover is incapable of playing back these key formats in our media player feature comparison page. If you are wishing to use a media player for the playback of video camera files recorded on a digital camera, they may be in an incompatible format for some players and you may need to convert the files. We will be covering file conversions in a future article.

file formats

Examples of file formats

For the best video performance, HDMI is the standard and best way of connecting a player to your Television or monitor. HDMI is also capable of carrying an audio signal so no further cabling would be necessary. Sometimes optical or coaxial connectors and cables are needed for audio, depending on your home theater setup. You can usually identify these from the images we provide on featured players. Nearly all players come with USB sockets to provide playback from USB memory sticks or hard drives. If you require networking, this can be either via wireless or a wired ethernet cable.


A selection of connectivity options

Internal Storage
Internal storage is a matter of choice for the buyer, some prefer the convenience of keeping the media on the playback device, although this does need transferring via USB or network. Others may prefer to stream content from their PC or a server. Finally others may like to plug in a USB drive or memory stick. In terms of capacity, a full HD file will as a rough guide take up approximately 70mb per minute of video, so an hour of video would use approximately 4200mb of storage space.

We always provide the dimensions of players featured so you are able to decide how it will fit in your bedroom, office or living room, generally manufacturers aim to keep the players as unobtrusive and compact as possible, definitely a positive compared to the VHS and DVD players of old!


We hope this article has helped clarify some of the options available on players on the market, if you have any questions or suggestions either leave a comment below or email us at, we’re always interested in feedback from our readers!

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