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  #1  
Old 03-29-2012, 12:19 AM
Rosea Rosea is offline
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Default Recommendation request for a classical/audiobook listener - cheap and basic preferred

Hello,

I am looking to purchase a player for myself, having outgrown retooling devices not originally intended as players. I don't need it also to be a GPS, web browser, digital music store front, YouTube/FaceBook/MySpace uploader, digital camera, QR code scanner, gaming device, and toaster - that's what cell phones are for (spoiler: my phone taste is pretty bare bones as well). As for what I am looking for, I'll start with the items listed in the sticky:
  • Location: Rural collegetown area located somewhere in the Atlantic Northeast area of the United States of America - will almost certainly be ordering used from internet
  • Capacity: At least 2GB, 4GB or more preferred, and expansion slots are also highly desired in case I change my mind
  • Budget: Preferably <50 USD - I am reluctant to go much higher than 99 USD.
  • Use: As the topic title suggests, I will mostly use the player to listen to classical music, with the occasional show/podcast or audiobook. I imagine that I will use the player primarily in two recurring settings: commuting and relaxation.
  • Type/Design: DAP/PMP - I can't see it making much of a difference (or being a choice), given the other constraints I have outlined.
  • Features: Gapless playback is a must, as certain classical works need it. I also place high priority on a sorting system beyond Artist/Album/Title - I would like at the very least searching by Composer and Performer, if not folder/file-based browsing. I inferred from a quick browsing of this sub-forum that bass boosts are for those people who like to blast loud rap/hip-hop/whatever noise they listen to these days from their car/party speakers. If that is the case, bass boosters are less important, and anything that counterbalances the market's pandering toward that demographic (assuming such pandering is forcefully inflicted upon the product in question) would be appreciated. Other priority features will be listed further down.
  • Display/Size: As long as I can get the information I need at a glance, this probably won't matter. Ideally, I would be able to see the Artist and Composer - customizable displays/readouts are a big plus here. For size, as long as it fits in a medium-sized pocket, which most older players seem to do just fine, I do not anticipate any problems.
  • UI/Controls: I much prefer tactile buttons in that unlike screens, they can be operated easily by touch alone.
  • Battery life: Not a huge priority if the transit method in question has a charger, which it will have most of the time, but just in case I might get caught on an extended chargerless trip... I don't know, 9+ hours?
Miscellaneous Properties: These are listed roughly in descending order of importance for me. I would also appreciate a rough estimate of how much each of these features adds to the cost of a player, to the extent that such is possible (some of these admittedly would make for awkward estimates).

Very important:
- Customization - I am sufficiently technically inclined that 'ease-of-use' features, interface pruning, and the like are much more often irritations to me than conveniences. Instead, I prefer customizability, especially the ability to password-protect my appliances for when I lose them, because it will happen eventually. Installing a custom OS is fun, but probably not feasible with the given price range. As for interfaces and information displays, as far as I'm concerned, more is more.
- Rechargability - I will not buy batteries if there is any way at all to avoid doing so, but it won't be the end of the world if such is necessary.
- Sound quality - I'm no audiophile, so I probably do not have much of the knowledge or background necessary to discriminate between different players' audio-rendering capabilities. However, if a product is notably different from the norm in either direction, I would like to know about it. In particular, I do have relatively good pitch, so I think I would be able to distinguish that (I once detected a pitch difference on one computer between WinAmp and Windows Media Player).
- Durability - things seem to slip out of my hands/pockets/bags often enough for this to be of medium-high concern.
- Product lifetime - I will probably be buying used, so I would like something built to last, not to mention that a device failure will mean days of waiting around for a replacement to ship.

Somewhat important:
- File formats - I would like FLAC, OGG, and AAC to be supported, in that order of descending priority. If the device can handle pictures, PNGs and JPGs are the only two formats I really care about.
- Dedicated volume controls
- Basic playlist support - nothing fancy is needed, but on-the-fly editing would be a plus.

Mildly important:
- Playback speed - I don't know if players have this sort of feature, but I guess I may as well put it here.
- On-screen clock - I have some bizarre OC quirk that makes wearing watches uncomfortable for me. Bonus points if it can speak the time on demand, but that's probably closer to alarm clock territory. 24-hour clocks preferred to 12-hour clocks
- Timers - telling the player to turn on or off at a certain time of day, or after a certain amount of time has elapsed
- Built-in microphone
- FM Radio reception - recorder would be nice but is probably too much to ask for at this price range
- Alternate font support - Not terribly important thanks to the magic of transliteration, but in this order of descending preference: miscellaneous European/Roman diacritics, East Asian character support, Cyrillic alphabet support, Semitic language (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, etc.) support

Inconsequential side-bonuses:
- Text reading capabilities
- Video playback

Hmm, on second thought, this doesn't seem to describe a player as basic as I had in mind... oh well! Thank you in advance for reading through this topic.
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2012, 01:05 AM
JK98 JK98 is offline
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You described the Sandisk Clip Zip. It is $40 for the 4GB version. It has a microSDHC card slot, so you could add a cheap 16GB or 32GB card. The display is customizable if you use Rockbox. Battery life is around 12 hours. It has a clock and OGG,FLAC,AAC, MP3, and WMA support. It has a sleep timer. It hs a mic and voice recording. It has FM radio. It displays album art, and has dedicated volume buttons. It has good audiobook and podcast support, and an autoresume feature for audiobooks and podcasts.

Last edited by JK98; 03-29-2012 at 01:30 AM.
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  #3  
Old 03-29-2012, 03:29 PM
Rosea Rosea is offline
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Thank you for the quick response, JK98. It's hard to believe that one single product can feature so many of the qualities I asked for, at a price far below my expectations! Now, I know this is the "AnythingButIPod" site, but truth be told, I don't really know anything about iPods, or any other player for that matter. So, if I may be so bold to ask, how does the Sandisk Clip Zip compare to the lower-end Apple models in terms of the criteria I listed?
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  #4  
Old 03-29-2012, 03:39 PM
sideways sideways is offline
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It is better.

Cheaper, has a display, doesn't lock you into the apple ecosystem, is expandable, etc ad nausea.

By all means check out the review on the clip plus, clip zip and compare them to the similar apple offerings which are the ipod nano and ipod shuffle.

If you are serious about the budget there really is no contest in my mind. If you are going to be using FLAC files you will also need to revisit you storage requirements. A handful of FLAC cd's will break the 2gb mark easily.
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  #5  
Old 03-29-2012, 03:48 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosea View Post
Very important:
- Customization - I am sufficiently technically inclined that 'ease-of-use' features, interface pruning, and the like are much more often irritations to me than conveniences. Instead, I prefer customizability, especially the ability to password-protect my appliances for when I lose them, because it will happen eventually. Installing a custom OS is fun, but probably not feasible with the given price range. As for interfaces and information displays, as far as I'm concerned, more is more.
See rockbox.org.

Also, http://themes.rockbox.org/index.php?target=sansaclipzip
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  #6  
Old 03-29-2012, 05:33 PM
Rosea Rosea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sideways View Post
It is better.

Cheaper, has a display, doesn't lock you into the apple ecosystem, is expandable, etc ad nausea.

By all means check out the review on the clip plus, clip zip and compare them to the similar apple offerings which are the ipod nano and ipod shuffle.

If you are serious about the budget there really is no contest in my mind. If you are going to be using FLAC files you will also need to revisit you storage requirements. A handful of FLAC cd's will break the 2gb mark easily.
I didn't read up at that time because I was in a hurry. I have a little more time now, so here is what I found from my quick searches:

The iPod Nano is right out. Too expensive.

The iPod Shuffle (First/Second Generation) is within the same price range. It is physically smaller in size than the Sansa Clip Zip, but lacks a memory expansion slot, which in the absence of anything else, would be a dealbreaker for me. From what I have read about RockBox, the software-related differences, such as the iPod Shuffle being able to dictate the names of the tracks being played with a computer-generated voice, are essentially all but eliminated once RockBox enters the picture. The customization suite that RockBox claims to offer more or less guarantees that I will be installing it the moment I obtain my media-playing device, so as far as I can tell, only the hardware differences will matter in the end. I don't care about size and do care about expansion options, so unless I am missing something important, I will probably choose the Sansa Clip Zip.

Wait, there is one thing. On a hunch, I tried to find some close-up pictures of the iPod Shuffle (Second Generation)... where oh where is the screen/readout/display? How do they expect you to find out what your player is doing, if you don't want to press that voice button? How are you supposed to navigate your collection if you can't see what you are searching for? If the answer to these is "you don't", then wow, I can't believe anyone would want such a thing
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  #7  
Old 03-29-2012, 06:06 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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I think the idea is that it was a cheap (for its time) MP3 player that had pretty good playlist syncing, so for some uses it wasn't bad. But yeah, I agree the clip is probably a better choice for anyone who is really, really serious about playlists
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  #8  
Old 03-29-2012, 08:11 PM
sideways sideways is offline
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Yeah the navigation on both the ipods is a little iffy. The answer really is YOU DON'T. The nano uses a touch screen only and the shuffle doesn't have a screen. Neither will do both blind and sighted browsing. By that I mean with the nano you have to look at to make sure you are not pressing the wrong button and with the shuffle it does not help to look at since there is no screen.

To stand up for the shuffle, it was designed to be a working out device as far as I can tell and for that it is arguably OK. It beats the sansa players on size, polish and perhaps clip strength but loses on all the stuff that really matters (IMHO). Dragging and dropping files ftw.

There is not a lot of difference between the clip zip and the older clip plus. The difference is mostly aesthetic and I personally I prefer the two tone colors of the old OLED screen to the new color LED screen. There is also the MiniUSB vs MicroUSB charging cable and a few other differences that will be listed in the clip zip thread I linked to earlier.

There is not much point in buying used when you can get the sansa new with a guarantee. Just don't drop yours under a train like I did. Haste makes waste.
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  #9  
Old 03-30-2012, 06:53 PM
Rosea Rosea is offline
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Alright, I've purchased a new Sansa Clip Zip from an online retailer. Many thanks for all the helpful responses to my inquiries! Now to figure out which cassette adapter to get...

But that's another topic altogether.
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classical music, digital media player, mp3 player, portable media player, recommendation, sansa clip zip

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