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8/11/2009


Review: SanDisk Sansa Fuze

Filed under: Reviews and Impressions — Charlie Summers @ 5:57 pm

As I’ve mentioned before, I am (eventually) canceling my XM Satellite Radio, which means I need something for the car…something that can play music and downloaded podcasts, particularly news and talk shows like The Bob Edwards Show. I’ve already found the V-Touch VL-875 sorely lacking, so I stepped up, or over, to the Sandisk Sansa Fuze to see if that will fit the bill. Short answer…don’t think so, and I think you’ll agree with me in a little while…

First off, this is a great looking little player…I bought the 2G version on-sale to start, figuring I could easily upgrade to the 8G version later. Since the device has a microSDHC slot which will handle up to 16G, the on-board memory didn’t seem to be quite as important (although I was a little wrong there, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). Pulling this thing out of the way-too-much packing material was a challenge, but well worth it, since like I said, it’s really a pretty little machine. It’s about the size of a credit card, and while a bit thicker, not as much as you’d think. The screen is is a bit small for someone of my advanced years, but I think I can live with it. The thumbwheel is comfortable, although it takes a little bit of getting used to, and as I discovered the interface is a little inconsistent, making it more difficult to master than is really necessary.

But the first step is to charge the thing…dig out the proprietary charging cable (you knew that was coming), plug it into the Belkin powered hub and…uh-oh…the settings are such that it requires Windows Media Player 10 or higher, and I avoid putting that on any of my machines. What’s bothersome is that the device won’t charge if it’s connected to a computer and it doesn’t have a solid mount; an unnecessary complication, in my humble opinion. It was easily fixed by using what little battery power was in the device to fumble through the menus until I could find and change the USB setting to connect via MSC (like a flash drive) instead of via MTP (a Microsoft-created system to “manage” devices and make sure someone pays a commission on purchased DRM-laden music). Once that was accomplished, the device began to charge, since the “drives” could mount to the Explorer. Like I said, unnecessarily difficult just for an initial charge…I suppose I should have connected it to a standard USB charging brick, but there isn’t one included, and most folks aren’t like me and have a bunch sitting in their office, so I didn’t.

While I waited, I checked the device in Windows Explorer (My Computer), and it was empty…no music or video was included as a demonstration, so far as I could tell by looking through the folders available on the drive through Windows Explorer. Once the device was charged, though, I discovered that was wrong…again, because of the differences between MSC and MTP, there are two separate and distinct filesystems on the device. Another unnecessary complication…it was necessary to use a throw-away machine to install Windows Media Player 10, connect the device through MTP, copy the non-protected music and video off of the device, then connect the device through MSC and copy the music over to the folders on the “flash drive” filesystem. (I probably should do some more research, since I lost the album art in the transition, and I’m not sure how that happened. A little thing, and one would expect the album art to be within the MP3’s ID3 tags, but that must be too simple.)

I know, I know, that seems like a whole lot of work. But since I do not want Microsoft to manage my device and look over my shoulder (any more than I want Apple to manage an iPod and watch me through iTunes), this is the only way to get everything “together” in one place so it can be manually managed. For whatever it’s worth, the demo music that ships on the device is pleasant enough, but nothing I’d absolutely have to have. And the video (a musical performance, ‘natch) is a nice demo, but you’re not going to want to save it in your “must have” hope chest…

Also while I was waiting for the unit to charge, I decided I’d better check out the manual and get an overview of the menu structure, so I wouldn’t be fumbling around the way I needed to while trying to find the USB settings. No one provides printed manuals anymore, so I pulled the mini-CD out of the packaging, and dropped it into the computer. Opened the CD, opened the “userguide” folder, and found…nothing but a “.DS_Store” file, an indication this was mastered on a Macintosh. Still, makes a guy wonder why there is a “userguide” directory if they aren’t going to actually put on a user guide. In fact, the only thing on the disc is an installer for Real’s Rhapsody - yep, you guessed it, yet another attempt by a commercial company to control the device and frelling sell me something. You know, I’m getting d*mned ticked off at the constant stream of attempts to monitor and market to me…I bought the d*mned player, and that should d*mned well be enough.

(Easy…take a deep breath…there…feel better now.)

Ok, so the disc is worthless. A trip to sandisk.com (using Firefox with a boatload of plugins to protect me from the flood of ads, javascript, flash, and other unnecessary distractions) and a few minutes’ digging around on the website rewards me with a copy of the user’s manual they should have included on the disc (or, heck, on the device itself for that matter) - mental note, just like the dangerous U3 software SanDisk includes on their flash drives, it’s going to be necessary to carefully watch everything associated with this player to protect myself. Got it.

Ok, so let’s start working with the puppy. The menu is mostly straightforward (there are some UI inconsistencies that’ll slow down your learning of the device), but the nineteen songs that come with the device are a great learning tool. After becoming mostly comfortable with the menu system, I set Shuffle and Repeat on, and was off to the races. It sounds great with my usual earphones (didn’t crack open the ones that came with it), and even sounds good through that silly little square speaker sold through the OldRadio.Network Shop.

My long-term plan for the device is to replace the XM Satellite Radio in the car; this means I’m going to need to store crazy amounts of legally-recorded music on whatever device makes the cut. If you look at the photo above, you can see an 8G microSD card going into it…my test card is also an 8G (although it’s a pqi and not a SanDisk, and the test card is a class 6, which is kinda overkill for an MP3 player which shouldn’t need that kind of speed), although the long-term plans would be using a 16G (the max that the Fuze can handle according to SanDisk’s website), using multiple folders or playlists as “channels” on the device. For example, having ~4G of each of the decades (70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2k) with separate playlists for each decade, and then a single monolithic playlist with all of the decades to emulate and improve-on XM’s The Blend. Another few Gs of light jazz, some coffeeshop-style singer/songwriters, well, you get the idea…and a few 1- or 2G cards for carrying around podcasts, Old-Time Radio programs, and recorded shows like The Bob Edwards Show, and you have a perfectly reasonable replacement for the overpriced satellite radio.

So to test, I copied 1,127 songs from the 1970’s (yes, I said one thousand, one hundred and twenty-seven songs) onto that 8G card, and created a playlist in .M3U format of those songs in the root of the card along with the tunes. Understand, I read a whole lot about SanDisk’s historical inability to deal with playlists, using the .PLP format exclusively in earlier players, forcing users to create all kinds of programs to translate M3U playlists to the somewhat-goofy PLP format (NULL characters between every other character???)…but apparently the Fuze can handle the more ubiquitous M3U format directly, so long as it is not in the playlist folder, but directly in the folder with the music. That also means M3U playlists that cross between the internal memory and microSD card aren’t possible, but I figured I could live without that.

So I copied the songs legally-recorded from Slacker Radio’s 70’s Channel at 128kbps (don’t be snobbish…XM is clearly running under 30kbps on their music channels, so these are a serious step up) onto the card, along with a playlist holding the 1,127 song names. I inserted the card into the side of the Fuze, turned it on, and got a “Refreshing your media” thermometer. In the first hint that there may be a problem, that thermometer took three minutes and fifty seconds by actual count to complete. So naturally, I turned it off, removed the card, and turned it back on…no delay. Then turned it off, inserted the card, turned it back on, and…waited another three minutes and fifty-two seconds. Besides wondering how much longer it would take with a class 2 card instead of the much faster class 6, I started to worry a bit about how long an 8G Fuze with a 16G card in it might take if one song were changed, or the 16G card was swapped for a podcast card and then replaced later. Almost four minutes seems a little excessive just to “refresh my media…” I mean, if I’m building playlists, why would I even need the media refreshed in the first place? (Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s for metadata playing…like by Genre or Artist. But I’d gladly give that nonsense up for a player that is more sprightly in its working with media. Like I said, I want to make my own playlists, not use on-the-fly generated ones based on ID3 metadata written to some internal database.)

Little did I know I’d soon be dreaming about as short a time as five minutes…

Ah, well, as mentioned, it’s a really sexy-looking player, so I’ll push those legitimate concerns down-the-road a little, and continue with my tests of this device, currently holding 19 songs on the internal memory and 1,127 on the 8G card. So I spin the wheel - oh, I don’t think I mentioned how cool it is to use the thumbwheel. I don’t know how exciting it will be when the device is in a mount in the car requiring a spin with the index finger and not being held in the hand where the thumb is in a natural position to spin, but holding it spinning the wheel is natural and, dare I say it, kinda fun. Anyway, I spun the wheel to Music, clicked right, spun to Playlists, clicked right, spun to “70s Hits,” clicked right, and…the device stopped dead. I have to admit some relatively nasty things happened then, trying to click, turn, move, etc., etc. - even turned the unit off and some other ugly things. It took me a bit to realize when I selected the playlist the device was processing it…and once I did, I allowed it to actually complete while running a stopwatch to see how long it took with a device giving no outward appearance of doing anything…no thermometer, no “Please Wait,” no nuthin’. Just a seemingly dead device.

For two minutes and thirty-five seconds.

I scrolled down a bit, selected a song by Aerosmith (it’s hard to see what, since the screen doesn’t display many characters and scrolling is really slow with a playlist this size), and clicked right to play it, only to have the device seemingly freeze up yet again. After three minutes and forty-five seconds, the backlight shut off but still no sound from the player. I spun the wheel to wake it up, and was confronted with a blank player on pause. I tried to hit the up button to release the pause, but since it wasn’t playing any tune, that was completely ineffective. I ended up hitting down to get the song menu, hit left to escape that menu and go back to the player screen, and it started playing Aerosmith’s “Come Together,” song 14 of 1,126. Next up, The 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up, and Away,” 4 of 1,126. Then Earth Wind and Fire entertained with “Sign a Song,” 289 of 1,126, after which Paul McCartney and Wings performed “Silly Love Songs,” 854 of 1,126. I am jammin’ to the 70’s tunes, Shuffle appears to be working, and at least theoretically working against the playlist and not the total number of songs within the unit.

(And yes, I know the Fuze thinks there are 1,126 songs in the playlist, when there are 1,127 songs in the MUSIC folder plus the playlist itself. Apparently there’s a song in the playlist which I created with the freeware version of MediaMonkey with a character the Fuze doesn’t like…I have to be honest, if there were hundreds of songs missing, I’d search it down, but with only one invisible, it doesn’t seem like it’s really worth it to spend the time.)

But let’s review…it took me over ten minutes of waiting around, most of that with no indication the unit didn’t just freeze irrecoverably, and boatloads of fumbling when initially it couldn’t figure out how to play the selected song, to get this far. My wife has a nine-minute commute to work, so there would be no listening time at all, not to mention having to jump through the hoops I did while trying to drive…and if she had a serious, 3,000+ playlist of 70’s-today, how friggin’ long would this device take to choose even the first song in that playlist?

According to the FAQ on the website, the updated firmware has a “Folder” selection…maybe this will be faster than playlist selection, but I’d still need a playlist of all the songs, assuming I had a folder for 70s, 80s, et al, and I’d have to hope, pray, and experiment to see if an M3U playlist within the card’s MUSIC directory would be able to address songs in nested folders.

The inescapable conclusion I have here is that the SanDisk Sansa Fuze was designed for someone with three CDs they were going to rip and apply to the internal memory, not someone who is going to use it the way the memory structure was designed to be used - I mean, if you’re going to support a 16G microSDHC card, you should probably expect the purchaser is going to fill one up and expect the device to play sometime within his lifetime.

Ok, so first, let’s upgrade the firmware. Instead of a simple download (actually it really is, but nevermind that now) you need to pull the “Sansa Updater,” install it, then connect the machine after the installation. It reads the device (mine contains firmware revision 1.01.11) and then checks SanDisk’s website for an upgrade (1.02.26 currently); it then downloads a simple file FUZEA.BIN to the root of your Fuze. Lemme guess…when it reboots, if it finds FUZEA.BIN in the directory, it’ll install it, right? Then why the hell can’t I just download that file without jumping through all those hoops? Probably because there’s some tracking involved - wanna bet Sansa has a record of my Fuze, by serial number, having had the update installed? Wanna bet I could copy FUZEA.BIN back to my hard drive, delete it from the Fuze, and have their records incorrect?

Ok, enough with the whine about the complete and unnecessary lack of privacy, let’s do this thing to see if it speeds anything up. Disconnect the Fuze, and…yup, “Firmware upgrade in progress.” “Upgrade completed,” and the unit cycles off. (Of course, since there’s no way to save a copy of the old firmware, there’s no way to backstep if SanDisk did anything stupid, but then they never would, right?) Fire it up again, and the old splashscreen is replaced by an exploding bunch of nonsense, then I have to reset language settings.

Now that we have the revised software, let’s throw it a challenge, shall we? I’ve moved the songs and playlist to a new folder, MUSIC/70s. I’ve copied over another 1,222 songs into a second folder, MUSIC/60s (I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which Slacker Radio station these songs came from). There’s also a manually-merged playlist in the MUSIC directory named Decades.m3u…it’s using the Windows-specific backslash as path separator, but if it fails, I can always use find-and-replace to use a unix-style forward-slash.

So the microSDHC card is now set up:

MUSIC/
      60s/
          (1,222 songs)
          60s.m3u
      70s/
          (1,127 songs)
          70s.m3u
      Decade.m3u

Should be fun. Let’s put it in the freshly-upgraded Fuze and see what happens…turn it off (to discover the tasteful “Goodbye” screen has also been turned into an unnecessary explosion of color), insert card, and turn it back on. “Refreshing your media” thermometer appears, and sticks around for…

an astonishing FORTY-FOUR MINUTES and FIVE SECONDS!

And please remember we’re talking about less than half the songs I expect to carry around with me. Seriously, this is completely unacceptable, no matter how cute the device is!

Ok, let’s see what happens if we open a playlist. Spin to Music, spin to Playlist, spin to the 60s playlist, and wait…a respectable 19-seconds to see the list, Spin (and the spin through the playlist is much more responsive than the old firmware, I’ll give it that) to an arbitrary song, select it, and after a ten-second or so wait, it begins to play. But…uh-oh…it’s listed as song 11 of 1,000. Ok, don’t panic, click down, click right to return to music list, left to playlists, select 70s, and after about 15-seconds, spin to select a song, and play…hum, song 18 of 1,000. Down, right, left, spin to Decades playlist, some seconds later spin to a song, and…yep, song 11 of 1,000.

The new firmware has lost the ability to play more than the first 1,000 entries in an M3U playlist. Which means the device assumes the Decades playlist is functionally identical to the 60s playlist, just the first thousand listed songs. Makes it all kinda useless, doesn’t it? Also makes me wish it were possible to downgrade firmware versions to the one I had before the “upgrade;” at least that one handled M3U playlists correctly…

So down, right, left, left, spin to Folders, external card, music, 60s, play all…it starts with 85 of 1,222, so the newly-added Folders section clearly handles the correct number of songs in the folder. Back to the 70s folder, play all, and it starts with 125 of 1,127, again the correct number of songs. So the Folders section works, and the Playlist section is crippled. Just to make sure, let’s down, right, left, spin to Play All in the MUSIC directory, and…it plays 760 of 2349…yep, the Folders section works just fine. (*sigh*) Ok, so I wonder if I could manage to nest everything so I could use Folders as pseudo-playlists…na, that’s way too much work when playlists should be working correctly and aren’t.

The firmware update has made the device much more responsive after the media is refreshed, which will occur any time there’s a change. If I were to, say, switch cards to play an episode of The Bob Edwards Show and when finished replaced this card, it would be another forty-five-minute wait before I could hear another song. And a filled 8G Fuze, with a filled 16G card…my god, I’d have to leave it run all night long to “refresh” the media every time I changed the cards! Heck, even attaching the unit to your computer to charge it, at least in “flash drive” mode, will trigger a refresh if anything on there changes…and you can’t always control Windows altering filesystem data, as I discovered when charging overnight and having the thing “refresh” my media even though I didn’t change anything on either drive!

Oh, before I forget, a really brief look at the other functions on the player. It does display photos, at least those “converted” to tiny BMP files with the conversion software that should be on the disc but isn’t and must be downloaded from SanDisk’s website along with the manual. Same with video, and both of these functions suffer from the major flaw that the screen is too darned small to make looking at photos or watching video comfortable for even someone young enough to have decent eyes. The FM radio works fine (no better and no worse than the V-Touch), although in this case the radio uses the earphone cables as the antenna but doesn’t refuse to run the radio without them…you can auto-set presets and get absolutely nothing if you don’t have earbuds plugged in. Like most of the others, it can record from FM radio (I’ve often wondered exactly why you would want to do that on an MP3 player), and it also has a built-in microphone in case you want to record your latest unforgettable thought, but I didn’t try them, and have no idea at what bitrate the device records. I’m betting pretty low, and there’s no setting in the device to change it anyway.

There is progressive scrolling through a song, where the longer you hold down the button the faster the scroll, so running to the middle of an hour-long OTR program is pretty efficient…I have to admit, though, that I’d rather they used the scrollwheel for this instead of clicking-and-holding the left-or-right buttons since it would allow much more accurate placement within a large audio file. Every time you hit the scrollwheel in play mode, it just triggers the volume, which can get a little tedious after the hundredth time you bump the wheel.

But honestly, none of this is particularly important if the device stumbles over 2,000 songs taking the better part of an hour to “refresh” ‘em, so this unit, too, is unfortunately a bust. And I’m back again looking for an MP3 player that can handle what I thought was a simple set of conditions; handle a whole bunch of songs efficiently, with multiple playlists that actually work, accept microSDHC cards with media files on ‘em, and don’t make me wait hours to play anything.

(As I usually do, I’ll send feedback to SanDisk with a link to this review; company representatives are welcomed to make any comments or suggestions in the comments section.)

Since with buying all these MP3 players I’m getting a little short of cash, I’d appreciate suggestions in the comments section for ones that will do what little I need before I spend the bucks on another one. Please remember, though…no Apple iPods (since I will not under any circumstances use iTunes to manage any player), and it must have a microSDHC or comparable slot. And, naturally, whatever I try next will also receive an honest, if not brutal, review.

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12 Responses to “Review: SanDisk Sansa Fuze” »

     

  1. rfmillerjr1 Says:

    I bought the lower priced Sansa, and was very unhappy with it. It never did sync properly, and it was horrible at getting podcasts. I finally bit the bullet, paid the price and bought an Apple IPOD. I tunes now downloads all my podcasts, and once I listen to them, the next sync deletes them from the Ipod, but not from my library. I delete those maually. The only bad feature of the podcasts are that they play one at a time them stop. I do a lot of listening in the evening, and at bedtime, and sometimes get behind on listeneing, so I discovered that you can make a playlist that will only the new ones. So now I have a unit that will play all my OTR (at least what I have loaded) all my music, and my podcasts, as well as my audiobooks from audible. Yes it does not have removable memory and that memory is fixed at 16GB, but so far I have only gotten it half full. I bought mine at the Apple store in Park City Lancaster for about $259.00. You could probably do better on the net. My car has an aftermarket stereo which plays MP3 discs and has an IPOD interface which lets me control the IPOD from the stereo controls, but not very well. I have got to learn not be be an early adapter of technology. The cutting edge, can sometimes be the bleeding edge. Let me know if you have questions.
    Randy Miller

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  3. Charlie Summers Says:

    rfmillerjr1 Says:

    I bought the lower priced Sansa, and was very unhappy with it. It never did sync properly, and it was horrible at getting podcasts.

    Um…you’re mixing hardware and software. The Sansa doesn’t receive your podcasts (any more than the iPod does), your podcast client does. You can use anything, from the bloated iTunes to the simple-to-use Juice to receive podcasts. (Or you can write your own retrieval programs, but that’s a whole lot more work than necessary for most people.)

    When it comes to managing media files in a player, I seem to be the only human being on the planet who does not want nor need some software program or another “syncing” my media files. It’s faster for me to manually copy the files I want to the player and the microSDHC cards than it is to allow some third-party software to do it for me. (I do use various programs, like MediaMonkey, mp3Tag, TotalRecorder, Winamp, et al to perform specific functions on my media files. But I have no intention of allowing even those free applications to control my device. I’m better at deciding what I want on it where than they are, thanks.) Note that in my review, I actually had to move the included media samples out of one filesystem into the other so I could control them instead of Windows Media Player/Rhaposody/whatever. Maybe I’m just a control-freak, but allowing an application to “manage” your device leads only to having information you might not want to share being offloaded to some central server somewhere.

    I finally bit the bullet, paid the price and bought an Apple IPOD.

    And as I’ve commented before, I refuse to purchase an Apple iPod, and it isn’t the cost that’s the issue. The iTunes software is a large bloated sales tool designed to make certain Apple can monitor what you are listening to for marketing purposes, and to sell you songs from the iTunes store - if you think it was designed for the user, you could not be more wrong. I prefer not to be watched, thanks, and have the technical know-how to maintain my own machines (yes, I know there is alternative software available for them, as I installed iShuffle to my daughter’s iPod Shuffle). Besides, Steve Jobs’ unhealthy refusal to make anything in the iPod user-friendly makes it impossible to find an iPod with a microSDHC slot - that’s a requirement for me since I intend to carry various cards with podcasts and recorded news shows on them, again manually copied and in many cases recorded through various software packages free and commercial. If I want to hear Here and Now, for example, I don’t want to wait until tomorrow when Juice would pick up the podcast; I’d rather record directly from PRI and copy it to my memory card at 1:01 pm for any afternoon drive I might make.

    (Don’t really like the idea of having a hard drive in an MP3 player, either…moving parts, bad. Solid state, good.)

    Of course, I’m also looking for a device that doesn’t take 45-minutes to update 2,000 media files…

  4.  

  5. Charlie Summers Says:

    I got one for you. I turned off the Fuze, removed the card with the Fuze turned off, replaced the card with the Fuze still turned off, and…you guessed it, it decided it had to refresh my media! Apparently the act of looking at this player sideways will force a 45-minute refresh.

    C’mon, folks, I really need some recommendations for players without this problem!

    Edit: Someone on another board suggested the problem was with my card, so I grabbed a 4G Kingston class 4 microSDHC card (the “class” indicates the card can write-transfer at at least 4 MB/sec, where a class 6 can write-transfer at 6 MB/sec) and stuck 1,418 songs on it - yeah, I stuffed until there was less than the space of a song left. I switched cards, and it took 34 minutes and 56 seconds for the “media refresh,” so it isn’t the card (or it’s both cards, pretty unlikely). Really need suggestions for an MP3 player that can handle what I thought would be simple stuff!

  6.  

  7. voxpop78 Says:

    So let me see if I have this right..you must be a certified microsoft mvp before you buy this. Where do I sign up?

  8.  

  9. Charlie Summers Says:

    voxpop78 Says:

    So let me see if I have this right..you must be a certified microsoft mvp before you buy this.

    He, he…na, you just have to have a lot of time to sit around watching the thermometer before you actually hear any audio.

    I bought an album from Amazon last night (TIA: got a $5 credit when I bought the Fuze, and the album was $5), a Simon and Garfunkle live concert, and now I’m afraid to put it on the Fuze, since I know it’s going to have to refresh all the media once I do. I’m pretty sure the purpose of an MP3 player is not to cause fear…

  10.  

  11. ilamfan Says:

    Charlie, maybe take a look at the “Rockbox” site ( http://www.rockbox.org/ )…their open-source freeware opens up a LOT of possibilities in otherwise strangled players. Their whole goal is to make devices more user-friendly.

    And from here: http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/WhyRockbox

    ” SanDisk Sansa c200, e200 and e200R series

    Rockbox for the SanDisk Sansa c200, e200, and e200R series features a large amount of plugins (games, applications and “demos”), which allow you to have some fun when you’re bored, or put one of our multiple applications to use: open files with the text viewer, time yourself with the stopwatch, view some JPEG photos, perhaps watch a video or two, or turn your Sansa into a desktop clock with the clock plugin. Support for microSDHC cards, On-The-Go playlist creation and adjustment, full file bookmarking support, and Recording with a variety of settings and features are more key points of Rockbox for the Sansa c200, e200, and e200R series. ”

    Not that many of us need the bells and whistles stuff (I only want an mp3 player in my mp3 player) but you might do nicely with using this free software, and buying cheaper older mp3 models to run it on. Heck, it might work on your current Sansa (have to check their list, maybe they’re working on it right now?).

  12.  

  13. Charlie Summers Says:

    ilamfan Says:

    Charlie, maybe take a look at the “Rockbox” site ( http://www.rockbox.org/ )…their open-source freeware opens up a LOT of possibilities in otherwise strangled players. Their whole goal is to make devices more user-friendly.

    Yeah, I know about Rockbox although I’ve never used it (I keep up as much as possible on open-source projects), but I have to admit I wouldn’t install it anyway. Until the player is out-of-warranty, it would be a mistake to install a third-party operating system, simply because it would give the manufacturer something to blame if anything goes wrong.

    Not that many of us need the bells and whistles stuff

    Oh, I dunno…bells and whistles can be cool, if they don’t get in the road of the primary function. Unfortunately, some companies/developers lose sight of that, and worry so much about that stuff that they forget what the primary purpose of the software really is. That is the problem with add-ons, in my opinion, the “Ooh, Shiny!” distraction factor.

    but you might do nicely with using this free software, and buying cheaper older mp3 models to run it on.

    Hum…there’s a thought. Of course, I never purchase anything from that auction-site-that-shall-not-be-named, but I may be able to find a short-warranty reconditioned player that will handle Rockbox at a decent price.

    Heck, it might work on your current Sansa (have to check their list, maybe they’re working on it right now?).

    Rockbox is approaching testing for the v1 Fuze (the one I have), and is pretty far out yet for the v2. But again, the real determinant is the end of the manufacturer’s warranty, not the software release.

  14.  

  15. Charlie Summers Says:

    At long last, an update. Thanks to the suggestions of some folks at the anythingbutipod.com forum, I’ve been able to cut down, but not satisfactorily eliminate, the “refresh” delay.

    The single most useful piece of advice I got was to reformat the device memory and the microSDHC cards with a special formatter published by Panasonic, which I found on their Japan website. I admit prior to the forum thread I had no idea the software even existed, but it was pretty impressive in its effects on the refresh time, and is a solid tool in my toolbox for SD and SDHC cards from now on. Every one I buy, and every one a friend, client, or acquaintance picks up should be formatted by this software.

    As I noted in this thread, after quick-formatting both the Fuze (which apparently has internal memory with the same specs as an SD card) and the 4G card with the Panasonic software, refresh time dropped from thirty-four minutes and fifty-eight seconds to a relatively-speedy seven minutes and fourteen seconds. Ok, still not great, but a quarter of the original time.

    With the 8G card and a quick-format, I got sixteen minutes and nineteen seconds, not quite a third of the original forty-four minutes and change. After running a full format (no erase), it refreshed in fourteen minutes and fifty-eight seconds. Adding playlists seems to have actually reduced the refresh time, to eleven minutes and a few seconds.

    Over ten minutes to refresh a single 8G microSDHC card is still more than I’m willing to accept, so I’m continuing the search for another player, but at least we’re now well under that three-quarters-of-an-hour nonsense we started with…

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  17. Nostalgic Rumblings » More about the Sansa Fuze MP3 player Says:

    […] Just a heads-up that there have been comments and updates to our review of the Sandisk Sansa Fuze MP3 player. I just added there information on how a piece of software I found at a website in Japan dramatically increased the speed of the player’s database “refresh.” While still not quite enough to consider this player as a replacement for the XM Satellite Radio, it’s impressive enough to not only note but to recommend that software to anyone who uses SD/SDHC memory cards of any stripe. […]

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  19. Charlie Summers Says:

    Side note: first time using the Sansa Converter software to convert videos.

    Yuck.

    It is horrible; it requires the Fuze to be connected to the machine before the “Convert” button is usable, and the software automatically copies the file to the device whether I want it there right now or not (seriously, let me convert to my hard drive and copy it if/when I choose, thanks). It is slow as “molasses in January,” and creates relatively huge files. What’s even dumber, the file I used was compressed with XVID, yet the converter used the DiVX decompressor, placing the DiVX logo (bug) on the corner of the screen in the beginning. Yes, I have the XVID codecs on the computer, so it didn’t need to do that.

    Also, because of the always-running SansaDispatcher (ok, “always running” until I discovered it, after which not-so-much anymore!) a launch of Sansa Updater was forced (I hate it when software not only runs but makes a frelling Internet connection without my explicit permission!), telling me the only update I needed was…an update of the Sansa Updater! Maybe this update is better behaved and doesn’t launch unless I want it to launch? Na…they think they know better than I do, so they will operate my computer for me.

    Between SanDisk’s disgusting U3 software and this garbage, I’m about done with SanDisk. I have to admit I like the Fuze for listening to recorded shows like The Bob Edwards Show when I take my walks even though it’s useless for what I originally purchased it to do (come to think of it, that’s a software issue, too), but their software is terrible. I thought it might be a good thing to throw a TV show on that Annie’s seen so I could catch up, but waiting hours to convert, having the machine automatically “phone home,” and finally be too d*mned small to even watch (and I just got new glasses!) all adds up to a complete waste of time.

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  21. Nostalgic Rumblings » Another SanDisk Fuze, and Mostly Success! Says:

    […] So why buy another copy of the exact same player? Well, if you check the comments in my review of the first 2G Fuze, you’ll find from ilamfan a suggestion I look at Rockbox, a free (as in beer and as in speech) replacement firmware for many MP3 players, including the V1 Fuze. I got a really good deal on a reconditioned 2G Fuze at an Internet store (which, for whatever it’s worth, came in looking every bit as shiny and “new” as the first one I purchased, complete with SanDisk earbuds and a charging cable). I figure, if I brick it with Rockbox, I’m not out much cash, and no warranty to speak of…I admit I did get lucky and receive a V1 unit (the software for V1 is “Unstable,” where the software for V2 is “Unusuable”), but I figured my odds were pretty good since the V2 units are relatively new and wouldn’t be in the refurbished bin in the quantities the V1 units would be. I am leaving the original Fuze untouched, so even if this one blows up, I still have something to use to listen to The Bob Edwards Show on my morning walks, even if it is kinda worthless for the intended use in the car. […]

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  23. bspro Says:

    Hi Charlie, I have used rockbox for a long time on an Archos Jukebox and have loved it. Now if I just knew how to write playlists. haha. I like your reasoning for using the models of players with cards, but haven’t seen anything that is as efficient as the ones with built in hard drives. I won’t go the Ipod route either for the same reasons you mention although I’m told you could put Rockbox on one of those too. I too just want my player to just show up as an external drive. Control freak? Nah, just anal. To quote Frank “I did it Myyyyyyy Waaaaaay!”


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