Friday, September 08, 2006

Terrible MP3 Player Luck

Lately I've gone through a little bit of an MP3 player fiasco and I've managed to come out the other side losing one MP3 player, having one old one (that's the size of a small house) sitting around unused (maybe not for long), and spending $200 on two MP3 players that are frustrating the hell out of me.

If you look over to your right, you will see the Toshiba 40 GB Gigabeat MP3 player that I recently purchased to replace my old RCA Lyra 40 GB which was getting a little long in the tooth and I was getting sick of running with a 2 pound, oversized brick in my hands. The Gigabeat is about the size of a 30 GB iPod and about as light, but it only cost me $160, which is about half of what a 30 gig iPod would have cost me.

The interface is intuitive. The shuffle algorithm is decent. The screen is great. The dock works perfectly. The battery life is so-so (about 4-6 hours on a full charge). All in all I thought it was a wonderful MP3 player... except for one small snag--it resets all the time.

Without fail, about once a run the Gigabeat stops playing and resets itself. In doing so, all of my settings (backlight time off, the time, play mode, volume, equalizer, etc.) are lost. I'm stuck waiting for it to boot back up, then I go through the setup screens (quickly), set the play mode to shuffle, and get back to listening. It is utterly frustrating to hear the music cut out and then go through this stupid process at least once a run.

I don't know if it is because it doesn't like how my MP3s are ripped or if somehow there's something corrupted or what, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when it'll quit. I've been toying about going back to the old MP3 player, but I don't want to haul that huge thing around. But then I'm stuck with the Gigabeat that randomly quits on me. It's a lose-lose situation.

Now besides listening to music I also listen to audiobooks and have had a separate MP3 player dedicated to listening to audiobooks. I used a small Creative Zen 128 MB player in the past and it worked ok. It doesn't support Audible format so I'd have to convert the Audible files to MP3 first, but it worked out ok. Somehow, however, I lost it so I needed to get a new player. Being cheap and knowing I'd only use this MP3 player for audiobooks, I just looked for the cheapest Audible compatible player and picked up the RCA Lyra you see to the left.

When I got it and put on my first audiobook, I sadly found out that it doesn't have a resume feature. Considering audiobooks are anywhere from 3 to 8 hours long in most cases, or at least the pieces you get from Audible are, it's totally inconvenient to start playing from the beginning each time you turn it on. I'll have to get used to the fast forward button and remembering exactly what time I was at because I'm going to be doing a lot of it. Lame.

I suppose since most Audible books are broken into 3-10 pieces, I could just block out big time chunks for listening to books instead of the usual 15-20 minutes that I would on the bus or walking. It's just so damn frustrating, but I guess that's what I get for picking up a $30 MP3 player for this.

It makes me wonder a little bit as to if I should have just spent the extra money and bought an iPod despite my hate for them. I despise iTunes. I hate the fact that iPods keep their firmware on the hard drive instead of a separate chip. The iPod shuffle algorithm blows. Despite these things, however, from what I've seen iPods at least work and have the features I want. I guess maybe this is what I deserve for trying to buck the mainstream. Stupid Rick, I know.

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