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Essay

MP3 players are better

By Tan Ying Zhen

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"Wow! I haven't seen that in ages!"

A young friend I was chatting with couldn't help exclaiming when she saw my MP3 player in my bag.

Like many youths, she listens to music on her smartphone. She also uses streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube Music. The last time she had used, or even seen, an MP3 player was several years ago.

What I did not reveal, and what may have surprised her even more, was that my MP3 player is fairly new. I bought it in Osaka just a few months ago.

My old trusty MP3 player had worked well for almost seven years. While I'd changed phones a few times in that period, the MP3 player stayed with me through thick and thin, as I moved from Singapore to Japan, and then back to Singapore again.

A few months ago, it started crashing frequently. But I was reluctant to toss it. I remembered fondly how I would plug into my world of music on long hikes, train rides, flights and trips, and I was looking forward to bringing it with me on more holidays. It is comforting to have a little bank of your favourite music and play lists with you everywhere you go.

When my player finally gave way and refused to be revived, I had to look for a replacement. Unfortunately, the Singaporean brand that produced my old device had stopped selling MP3 players altogether. I visited several electronics shops, and none stocked them either. When I asked the sales staff about MP3 players, most couldn't hide their surprise, or quizzical looks. I felt a little embarrassed.

I know I can listen to music through my smartphone, but I prefer not to. Besides exhausting my phone battery, it makes me even more reliant on my phone. Having a separate music player makes it easier for me to go out without my phone, and I enjoy being disconnected from calls, messages and social media.

So on a recent trip to Japan, I made a trip to an electronics megastore. When I saw the MP3 players on display, I felt a palpable sense of relief. Never mind that there weren't many models to choose from. No need for fancy colours or features either. All I needed was a simple, no-frills player that could store and play music.

I got one for less than ¥4,000 and I've been using it religiously ever since. Fingers (and toes) crossed that it will last, because I suspect the day will come when companies will stop manufacturing MP3 players altogether. Or perhaps more people will start to embrace the advantages of having a music player that can do little else besides play music?

MP3プレーヤーの方がよい

年下の友人が筆者のMP3プレーヤーを見て、驚きを隠せなかった。今の若者はスマートフォンで音楽を聴くのが当たり前のようだが、筆者はMP3プレーヤーに音楽を入れて聴く方が好きなのだ。

The Japan Times ST: November 11, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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