android
  #1  
Old 12-05-2008, 06:38 PM
foog foog is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 4
Default recommendations for audiobook/podcast player?

I'm looking for a small, rugged flash-based mp3 player mostly for listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Cheaper is better. Stupid drm shackles are an unfortunate must, so no ipod. My upper limit on price is about $150. I don't really want to spend more than $100 unless the thing is absolutely perfect in every way. For over $50 it had better be damned close, too. My last two players were an original 1 GB Creative Zen V (~$50) that broke and a Samsung YP-S3 (~$79) that I just bought and will return tomorrow.

Here's the more complete story:

1) I'm a casual but frugal audiophile with an old McIntosh receiver, Marantz CD player, and Linaeum speakers at home. I don't expect audiophile sound from an mp3 player, period. I mostly listen to my mp3 player in the car. So sound quality is a nice-to-have but merely "typical" performance is fine. Truly bad sound quality would of course be a problem.
2) I mostly use my mp3 player to listen to audiobooks and podcasts on my commute, through the aux jack on my car stereo.
3) I bring my mp3 player to work, charge it there, and download daily programs to it to listen to on the commute home. So a player that uses a plain mini-usb cable and no additional software on Vista would be strongly preferred. I don't want to install personal software on my work computer, and I don't want to have to think too much about keeping track of a special cable.
4) I might use an mp3 player more if it sounds good, looks good, and is pleasant to use.

I had a Zen V for about a year. I bought it because it was the cheapest device still on the market that netlibrary listed as working with their copy-protected audiobooks. I loathed it, but it did the job. It was ugly and borderline unusable. The bookmarking features barely worked, I was always losing my place in long audio files, and it required a lot of fiddling to get back to where I was in them, if I didn't crash the unit in the process. Then I left it out in the cold and the OLED display died on me.

I bought a Samsung YP-S3 the other day on impulse to replace it. It's far enough from ideal for what it cost that I'm going to take it back. The touch controls are confusing and I make lots of mistakes using them. It uses a proprietary USB cable, so if I lose the USB cable I'm screwed. It is less than perfect at keeping my place in audio files, but much better than the Zen V in that one regard.

So I'd like some feedback on a replacement. If returning the Samsung is as painless as I hope, I figure I will bring home a Sandisk Fuze to try out, because nobody seems to pick nits in the user experience of these things in reviews so you don't know until you get them home. But in the meantime, here's my wish list.

MUST HAVE:

  • drm support for netlibrary audiobooks (I think the obsolescent? Microsoft "plays for sure" standard covers this, but am not sure) This rules out ipods.
  • little-to-no extra software required (Sandisk-style multiple protocol support sounds like what I want here). NO PROPRIETARY-PROTOCOL-ONLY PLAYERS. I expect to use Windows Media Player to sync DRM'ed audiobooks to the device, and otherwise to just use regular file access to dump mp3s on it
  • standard USB connectors: NO PROPRIETARY CABLES
  • tactile feedback on controls: NO TOUCH CONTROLS
  • some kind of menu display so I can locate what I want to listen to; shuffle-type players are out.

MUST BE AS GOOD AS POSSIBLE, BUT I EXPECT NOT TO BE PERFECTLY HAPPY:

  • best-of-breed pause/resume/bookmark functionality for podcasts and audiobooks. This is absolutely critical. The Samsung is about good enough here but it doesn't make me happy. The Zen V I would not purchase again based on my experience in this area. Let me explain this:
  1. if I pause it and then go to any other file any way, it MUST remember where I paused in that file and resume playing at that point when I return to that file. I should not have to explicitly set a bookmark. The Samsung fails on this point, as does the Zen V
  2. if I pause it and it turns off for ANY reason, it MUST remember where I paused it. The S3, annoyingly, does not *remain* paused when I turn it back on, but at least it doesn't lose its place. The Zen V fails this point completely
  3. if I turn it off in the middle of something, it MUST remember where it was. The S3 is fine on this point. This is also the one thing the Zen V actually did right, strangely enough
  4. it MUST NOT lose its place when it is plugged into a computer. This happened to me with the Zen V about twice a week because I would bring it in from my car and plug it into my computer at work to charge before I remembed that I had turned it off in the middle of something without setting a bookmark. My understanding is that this rules out the Sandisk "Clip". The S3 is OK on this.
  • stable firmware: the Zen V was marginal on this: fine on plain mp3s, but seeking through long drm'ed stuff would crash it---and then it loses its place. I haven't used the Samsung YP-S3 enough to tell if it's any good on this point. "Fiddly" or "crash-prone" or "enthusiast" models are OUT
  • NO SURPRISES: I'm sort of shocked that others list "must be able to delete files from the player", or "standard headphone jack" as a must-have, since I think that goes without saying. I don't want to find out something is lacking a switch to lock controls with, or needs a charger separate from the USB cable, or can't handle audio files over an hour long, or requires disassembly to reset, or anything stupid like that. I made all those up, but you know, warn me if your recommendation lacks some common feature!
  • dedicated volume buttons. The lack of these on the Samsung was an annoyance
NICE TO HAVE, THAT IS, I DON'T NEED THESE OR CARE THAT MUCH AND CERTAINLY WON'T PAY EXTRA FOR THEM BUT ALL ELSE EQUAL I WILL CONSIDER PLAYERS WITH THESE FEATURES OVER THOSE THAT DON'T:

  • flexible video support so I can listen to video lectures without converting them: if I have to convert them I'll strip audio instead, or more likely, I just won't bother. Again, not a must, just a nice-to-have
  • known for sure to work out-of-the-box with ubuntu linux (as above, Sandisk-style multiple protocol support sounds like what I want here)
  • better-than-typical memory capacity for its price point; since I swap stuff in and out a lot, the 1GB Zen V was about enough and any more is luxury
  • better-than-typical sound
  • better-than-typical battery life
  • memory card slot
  • ogg and flac support
  • full functionality while USB is attached: because it's just dumb that so many players don't support this and I figure anyone who got that right would get other things right too
  • an even better world clock than the Samsung: the one nifty little bonus feature that I liked
  • it was the OLED that died on my Zen V, so more-reliable LCD displays are slightly preferred
  • some more pause/resume/bookmarking features:
1. It should be hard to lose your place in a long file if you're "fast-forwarding" or "rewinding" within it. Ideally:
a. if I accidentally skip to the next file and then go back, it should resume playing where it was, not at the beginning.
b. if I accidentally skip to the beginning, and then go forward, it should resume playing where it was, not skip to the next file
2. A separate way to set additional bookmarks would be nice but is not necessary. The Zen V has a fiddly menu for setting bookmarks that is not very practical. The Samsung has some support for bookmarking that I haven't tried
3. Really good controls for searching through long audio files (hours long) if you do manage to lose your place: the way the Zen accelerated its "fast forward" and "rewind" was almost unusable. (related but not the same as #1 above) I shudder to think what this must be like with the touch controls of the YP-S3
  • less ugly and toy-like design than the Zen V
  • reasonable means for keeping music separate from podcasts and audiobooks
  • user-replaceable battery
  • gapless playback
DON'T CARE AT ALL/DON'T LET IT GET IN THE WAY EITHER/WILLING TO BE CONVINCED IF THEY'RE STUNNINGLY WELL-IMPLEMENTED:

  • video/image support for its own sake (see above)
  • fm radio (I found the radio on the Samsung pleasing but I don't plan to use the player for that)
  • voice recording/line-in
  • game/text/organizer/calendar/alarm clock features
  • built-in speaker
  • silly audio processing/equalization features
  • bluetooth
  • most display features beyond choosing files to play
Again, the next player I plan to try is the Fuze but I'm willing to be talked into something else.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by foog; 12-05-2008 at 07:16 PM.
Reply With Quote

Advertisement [Remove Advertisement]

  #2  
Old 12-05-2008, 06:52 PM
Andreas's Avatar
Andreas Andreas is offline
Visiting troll from Pocketables
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Norway
Posts: 2,285
Default

i stopped reading 1/4 through but try the sansa clip. fits the stuff i read, anyways
Reply With Quote

  #3  
Old 12-05-2008, 06:54 PM
foog foog is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 4
Default

A comment in the review of the Clip here indicates it loses its place when it's plugged into a computer. That's a pretty big minus.
Reply With Quote

  #4  
Old 12-05-2008, 06:58 PM
Marvin the Martian's Avatar
Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: east central NY state
Posts: 10,602
Default

Well, the Fuze has good sound,LCD, the 24-hr clock, and remember where you were when you pause/turn-off, but it has a proprietary cable, and not a dedicated volume control. So I'd say the Sansa Clip, but it has no clock, and it is not LCD....so it's hard to say.
__________________
iPod Touch 5G 32GB, Touch 4G 32GB, Clip Sport 8GB. Rockbox-> Clip Zip 4GB, iPod Nano 2G 4GB, iPod 5.5G 80GB
2012 Nexus 7 32GB, Asus MeMoPad 8 16+64GB, LG Optimus G Pro, Nokia Lumia 900 and Lumia 520
Reply With Quote

  #5  
Old 12-05-2008, 06:59 PM
Marvin the Martian's Avatar
Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: east central NY state
Posts: 10,602
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by foog View Post
A comment in the review of the Clip here indicates it loses its place when it's plugged into a computer. That's a pretty big minus.
I think that's been corrected since then in firmware updates though.
__________________
iPod Touch 5G 32GB, Touch 4G 32GB, Clip Sport 8GB. Rockbox-> Clip Zip 4GB, iPod Nano 2G 4GB, iPod 5.5G 80GB
2012 Nexus 7 32GB, Asus MeMoPad 8 16+64GB, LG Optimus G Pro, Nokia Lumia 900 and Lumia 520
Reply With Quote

  #6  
Old 12-05-2008, 07:07 PM
foog foog is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 4
Default

I just read through the firmware update descriptions here for the clip and it doesn't list that but it does sound like sandisk has put a lot of thought into features for audiobook listeners. Also thanks for pointing out the Fuze has a proprietary cable!

The clip is out ahead for now...
Reply With Quote

  #7  
Old 12-05-2008, 07:08 PM
The DarkSide's Avatar
The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Qns Vlg, NYC
Posts: 16,062
Default

I'm dizzy!!! Try, as suggested, the Fuze. Or take a look at the D2, as it has many of the feature that your looking for. But, it is a partial touchscreen player, and it does have dedicated volume controls.
Reply With Quote

  #8  
Old 12-05-2008, 09:39 PM
FreeZ5's Avatar
FreeZ5 FreeZ5 is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,513
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cptnodegard View Post
i stopped reading 1/4 through but try the sansa clip. fits the stuff i read, anyways
Well done, you made it a lot further than me.

Any list of requirements that long that starts with 'under $100' is never going to get a match (at least that's my opinion).

Steve
Reply With Quote

  #9  
Old 12-06-2008, 12:15 AM
advcomp2019's Avatar
advcomp2019 advcomp2019 is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,838
Default

I will say the Sansa Clip or Fuze. They have fixed that issue as far as I know.
Reply With Quote

  #10  
Old 12-29-2008, 09:27 PM
Jazmina Jazmina is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 7
Default

I honestly wouldn't know where you can get all that in one player. Most have some features and don't have others. Even though the Zen doesn't meet all of your requirements I would recommend it. I only listen to audiobooks and podcasts and I love my Zen. It will loose it's place when you plug it in if you don't bookmark it beforehand though. I find it just takes time to get into the habit of these things, and I rarely loose my place anymore. If you just turn the power off every time it will remember your place, this is what I do 99% of the time. If you pause it will remember for a while but if you leave the player off too long it will go back to the beginning of the track. I generally turn the power right off (no pausing), but if I answer the phone or something I can pause it and go back half an hour later and still have my place kept.

The fast forward is pretty fast as well. It only takes seconds to get an hour into a file. I have tried a few different mp3 players for audiobooks (including iPods) and I like this one the best.

It has easy software to install and use. I prefer to make playlists of my different audiobooks. It takes no time at all. I just make a new folder and copy my book into it (no need to do it twice). You can also drag and drop files or right click on your file and then select 'copy to zen'.

It may take some time to get all you want. And possibly cost more. I hope you find something you are happy with.


Edit to add that the battery life is pretty awesome. I hardly plug mine in and I always have it on and fall asleep with it on (set to a 3 hr sleep timer).

Last edited by Jazmina; 12-29-2008 at 10:03 PM.
Reply With Quote

  #11  
Old 01-03-2009, 11:36 AM
foog foog is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 4
Default

I went with the Clip and it's nearly perfect for most of my purposes. The user experience on inexpensive players has come a long way in a year.
Reply With Quote

  #12  
Old 01-08-2009, 12:43 PM
JK98 JK98 is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 4,057
Default

The Clip and Fuze are good for podcasts since they play low bitrate files. i have not had any mp3 or wma files that didn't play on my Fuze and Clip. This includes 12 kbps wma files and 16 kbps mp3 files. The one thing I really want in an mp3 player for podcasts is variable speed playback from half to double normal speed with automatic pitch correction like Windows Media Player has. I have not found any mp3 player with this. Some have variable speed playback that is a bit faster than normal, but without pitch correction.

Last edited by JK98; 01-11-2009 at 02:12 AM.
Reply With Quote

  #13  
Old 01-09-2009, 06:56 AM
The DarkSide's Avatar
The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Qns Vlg, NYC
Posts: 16,062
Default

The op went w/the clip.
Reply With Quote

  #14  
Old 01-09-2009, 08:41 AM
Cruleworld's Avatar
Cruleworld Cruleworld is offline
Ultra Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: In a secluded cave
Posts: 2,728
Default

I was gonna recommend the zune because they are awesome with podcasts. But then you said no software, and also you wanted audio books.
Reply With Quote

Reply

Tags
audiobooks, creative, samsung, yp-s3, zen v

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:59 AM.