MP3 device shopping 2007
In the summer of 2007 I was shopping for an MP3 player to upgrade the 512MB
one I had.
I use my MP3 player in three key ways:
- On motorcycle trips: day trips, multi-day, and even longer
- In the car, to listen to podcasts during my commute
- In the gym, to listen to podcasts while working out
Using it on the motorcycle means I want something with a replaceable battery
(or a VERY long battery life): I might want to go more than ten hours without a
chance to plug it in, and occasionally over 24 hours. Generally that means
replaceable batteries instead of an internal rechargeable one.
Using it in the car means it should work as a USB thumb drive with no special
drivers and preferably without a cable, because that's what I have in my car to
play through the radio. Oddly, some thumb drives work better than others. The
radio has a feature where it remembers where it left off as long as the drive's
contents haven't changed. But this feature failed on a few devices I've tried:
there must be something about those thumb drives that defeats the "content
hasn't changed" test the radio performs.
I also don't want a special cable when using it as a thumb drive because I
want to be able to plug it in at work and download music and podcasts. I guess I
could put the right kind of USB cable in all the different places I use it, but
that gets awkward. Everything has a standard USB socket.
And I wanted a 2GB player, because the whole reason to upgrade my Creative
MuVO TX FM is to get more than 512MB of space. I was going on a week-long
motorcycle trip and I didn't want to have to listen to the same songs every two
days, or less if I also carried some hour-long "This American Life" or "Fresh
Another requirement is for playlists or folder organization. With 2GB I
wanted to be able to load podcasts and at least two kinds of music (instrumental
not), and you don't want to just "shuffle all."
Another is that you can turn the thing off in the middle of a "song" and turn
it on again and have it pick up where it left off. Using the "fast forward"
feature to scan 40 minutes into an hour-long podcast is not my idea of fun.
What I want is a 2GB player (or smaller with expandable memory) with a
replaceable battery, direct USB connector (no cable), that works in my car USB
player, with playlists or folders I can manage from a PC, with "shuffle just
this playlist/folder" capability, and that picks up where it left off when you
turn it off and back on.
Each of the devices I found fails one or more of these tests.
- Sadly, this is the best so far. Nothing fatal, just annoying.
- Does not have "shuffle this folder"
- Does not pick up where it left off (except in root directory).
Workaround: set the "pause" timeout very long, so I can pause instead of
turning it off.
- Buttons feel cheap, not durable
- Very slow to start up when packed full
- Very slow to fast-forward/reverse
- Only one level of subdirectories - better than none...
- Limit of 500 songs in one folder; but this interacts with "can't shuffle
one folder" to motivate splitting songs into multiple folders anyway.
Otherwise you constantly start the same "road mix" randomly-populated folder
at the start. Maybe use random play until hitting any song in that folder,
then switch to normal play?
Creative MuVo V100
- Fatal: Doesn't work in the car: the radio says "No Music." (As
distinct from "No Device.")
- Doesn't restart where it left off (except in the root directory)
- Multiple subdirectories in three "Libraries" of only 500 songs max each
RCA $20 player at Fry's - Pearl? Gem? M2001?
- Fatal: Doesn't work in the car: "No Device." This is because it's
a multi-volume mass storiage device.
- Also buttons are hard to work, icons hard to see, etc.
- Also needs a special cable, not standard USB
LG cell phone as MP3 player
- Fatal: no folders, can't manage playlists from computer, only
- I use this for podcasts now with a USB reader device in the car for the
Conclusion: stick with my 512-MB player which does all these things
perfectly, and return or don't use these larger-capacity players which fail me
in one way or another. The smaller player is only inadequate for very long trips
without a computer, which are rare.
This page was last edited
April 26, 2008.