As a student, the words “quality of life” seem to have little effect. We manage our lives in small, crowded rooms and buildings while working around hectic schedules and tight budgets. Quality of life is something that we should pay more attention to because it makes the time in between classes, meetings and social events more enjoyable and helps to make heavy workloads seem more manageable. For this, we have MP3 players.One of the greatest inventions of the past few years has been the portable MP3 player, in which our entire collection of music can join us on our daily routine. Even those with eclectic tastes can fit it in their pocket. Why did these little machines gain so much popularity? Size, size and size.The first “size” is about the actual size of the machine. You can fit most MP3 players in your hand and they hardly weigh as much as the Diet Coke from the vending machine, if even that much. The second “size” refers to the size of the hard drive. 10 GB is a lot of space – enough to fit about 2,500 songs. Today, there are MP3 players that hold up to 60 GB of space. The third “size” is in reference to the price. You can buy a good MP3 player with more than enough space for the amateur music collector for a relatively cheap price now days. The next question is “Which MP3 player is for me?” The choices are daunting, and the list interminable. Here are some pointers.For those of you on the move and with little time to spend changing around a playlist on your computer, let alone an MP3 player, space is going to be a priority. You might also want to think about buying something petite since it’s never fun to carry around a heavy load. In this scenario, the ever-famous iPod will be your best friend. You can choose up to 40 GB of memory, and it’s light as a feather. Be careful of battery life and treat it like a baby. Since the hard drive is made of moveable parts, it’s delicate and needs a caring owner. Creative Zen Touch is also a great model and has become iPod’s biggest competitor. Spend time at the gym? Then you want something that can be operated with one hand as well as something able to endure abuse. MP3 players that have flash-based drives are the answer. The original MP3 player had this flash-based storage system, and it’s still around – not bad. Basically, flash-based systems have no moveable parts, so they are able to withstand being thrown around a bit. They are small, but so is their memory. They only hold up to about 1 GB of music. That’s still a considerable amount of music, so don’t think you’re downgrading. You can still have over 200 songs with you at all times. iRiver makes some great flash-based models that could be perfect for the fitness freak out there. Anyone who lives out of their car, such as off-campus students, might want something that performs well and holds a lot of music, but might not care about the actual size of the player. In this case, a hard drive model will serve you well, especially the Creative Nomad MuVo Slim. It has abundant space and great performance. You will need a car adapter for it.Never mind quality of life – if you want quality of sound, you want to get a Rio Karma. They have 20 GB of memory, plenty for the music lover. Karma uses a storage system called FLAC, which only compresses the sound about 50 percent without losing sound quality. Of course, if you are serious about sound, get good headphones, too. The cash-strapped lives of students going to a $30,000-a-year school might be thinking less along the lines of an MP3 player’s compatibility with their life and more along the lines of what they can afford. The Creative Nomad MuVo has a large enough amount of space, is simple to use and is really affordable. If you have $70 to spend on an MP3 player, this would be a good choice. Rio also makes some older, more affordable models that are well made. You might want more memory than they have to offer, but on a budget, you can give a little. MP3 players are becoming more complicated by the day. They are starting to serve recording needs – such as the iRiver iHP-120. This has a digital optical input device so you can record from a microphone. Some also have space to store other kinds of files, which could be a useful tool for a student.Whatever your needs are, there is an MP3 player out there to fulfill your every wish. With some research and a friendly voice from your campus newspaper, you’ll be on your way to improving your quality of life.Reguero can be reached at

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