I would like to get a cheap device that could be plugged into wall electricity socket and play MP3s from a flash card or internal flash memory or hard drive. It does not need have speakers, I would use external ones.

The device would be used to play music at work, so basically every day ~ 8 hours. We would like to be able to change the music on the device easily, so the flash/hard drive requirement.

So far I could only find half-solutions:

portable mp3 player

 + flash memory
 + cheap
 - runs only from batteries, recharging them all the time is annoying

CD/DVD player

 + cheap
 + uses wall socket
 - need to burn MP3s to the CD, unpractical for changing music

PC / media center

 - expensive
 + uses wall socket
 + internal memory
 - higher energy consumption

If you can get hold of a USB MP3 player device that will run off USB power,
All you need is a USB 'charger' adapter, and

  • it will work of your home wall power or,
  • your car power socket

Only problem is, I have not come across any MP3 player devices that will run off USB power.
Would be interested to know about any available...

  • This is a good idea, it hasn't occured to me to do it this way. – Quiark Jul 30 '09 at 17:27
  • 3
    Several of the leading brands will do that, including iPods. I can recommend the Sansa Clip - my wife has one of these in the kitchen and runs it connected to a USB wall charger all the time. – Colin Pickard Mar 8 '10 at 17:02

Well my old Cowon M3 could be used when plugged into the the mains for charging so I don't see why something like an iPod or the new Cowon S9 couldn't. Have the one's you've investigated mentioned they can't operate this way? I can't check with my son's iPod as he's away at the moment.

On the CD/DVD player issue - as you burn new discs you'll build up a library so this could be seen as a plus point. If you want to change the music during the day, just pop a different disc in, no need to wait while the files are copied from the master computer.

For the PC solution - why couldn't you use an existing server? Playing mp3's isn't that processor intensive, so it shouldn't have a detrimental impact on performance - just plug in a new HDD to hold the music.


If you have a computer at work, you could use a Squeezebox to stream music where ever you need it.


An iPod? They'll run of a wall-socket, using the power-to-USB adapter (I don't think they include it as standard anymore, but they are still available). Updating the music just requires plugging it into a computer to synchronise.

If you're feeling more creative, there is an interesting project to turn a router running OpenWRT into a streaming music player - if you skip the LCD part, it seems pretty simple..

It mounts music from a remote machine, and uses mpd, which has numerous interfaces, include web-ones. It can also stream music from any other machine using ShoutCast, which means you could do things like allow requesting of songs via a web-interface (using something like LiquidSoap).

The page also mentions other pre-build products, such as a the Squeezebox


For around $30 you can buy a small MP3 player with 4GB of storage, enough for over 1,000 songs. For another $20 you can buy a universal AC-to-USB power adapter to run it. So you have a solution for $50. Plain and simple! I'm a working musician and I have this exact setup to perform along with backing tracks,and it works perfectly. The "hard" part is getting the music from your cd's onto the MP3 player: Save the tracks from your cd drive to your hard drive using Windows Media Player, then copy and paste the songs into the MP3 player via the USB cable. Done!


Define expensive? A netbook might work for you and can be had for under $20.

Edit: You might want to search for boom boxes that support USB. Most support MP3 these days. Probably can find one under $100


There are several iPod Docks that would fit your requirements you just need to do some looking around. They'll support plugging in a flash drive or iPod, use a wall socket for power, and are very reasonably priced.

On a side note if you went with this solution and had wifi in the office you could use an iPod touch and run Slacker Radio, Pandora, or other streaming music service of your choice and eliminate the need for maintaining a music selection altogether.


there are relatively cheap MP3 playing devices with USB - my mom owns one of these and it works well enough and was reasonably cheap (under SGD 100, grant. Just add a USB hard drive with music on it, and you're good.

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