Since my wife bought me my Sansa mp3 player more then a year ago, this was a gadget that I separated rarely from. I don’t remember recently having anything that I used so extensively. I am listening to audio courses, inspirational messages, sf and other novels. And music, yes and music. I discovered that this is probably the best cure for insomnia as I never ever fell asleep that quickly then with Sansa. I think I developed anchor to it, so as soon as I hit the bed and start playing, I fall asleep. Some of the novels I had to go from start for 2 weeks before I made any progress because I was using it to fall asleep. If I would have to go somewhere I would put music on. All in all, I don’t know how battery didn’t fail by now since it was in use almost non-stop. Battery life is pretty good btw, I had maybe one battery die on me because I forgot to recharge it for a while.
Anyway, as good as it is, and it is very good, I had some issue with it. Since I am listening to audiobooks so much, it was really tough if I would fall asleep at hour length section. I would need to rewind and that was not the most easiest thing. Also what was a big problem is that most of the players, Ipod, creative etc, they don’t work in so called file mode, they all rely on info in mp3 files to place audio pieces in albums. Some of the books were plainly unreadable in such setting, if I would put two of such books, they would intermix and make whole experience a mess.
My life got much easier when I discovered free piece of software AudioBook Cutter. This sw will take any number of mp3 files and cut them in more or less even slices. What is nice is that it will make pauses when pauses are in the files, so that listening will never get choppy and it makes very easy to find any part of the lengthier pieces. While this helped a great deal, it would place all of such cut books in unnamed place, so they would all be together, I would just have to scroll to find the one I would like to listen to.
I kind of got used to this whole thing, until I came across some argument over which mp3 player was better. I came across open source software called rockbox mentioned there as a solution for a great number of players.
I checked the site, read carefully about the sw and how it is installed and more importantly, how I can remove it in case I don’t like it. I liked a lot that, in case I really wanted, I can even modify some parts. Install was such a breeze that it took me far longer to read about it and assure myself my Sansa will not be harmed then to install the sw.
Even though interface might seem a little crude, it is very functional and I loved it from the start. Of course files option is there prominent. One problem I came across is that Sansa marks Music folder hidden so it can’t be viewed using Rockbox, I had to set it unhidden and each time Sansa original software would be run, it would make it hidden. I still wanted to keep my files at that folder Sansa searches as well, otherwise, simple solution would be to make another one.
I went through the setting and set few things. Difference between experience with original Sansa sw and Rockbox is enormous. First it responds to commands much better. Sansa made a recent update that slowed considerably response to each command. Rewinding is AWESOME, now I don’t need to cut files at all, why cut them when you can easily rewind to whatever place you want.
Rockbox has essential features I craved and I love it for that. One other thing that is super important is that it handles probably the most number of formats, I have a ton of classical music in flac format, it handles that and ogg as well. It does a lot of other, in my view secondary things that are not important like having quite a number of games, I just don’t care about it.
What is most important, it plays music extremely well, supports formats and handles well music and audio organization. That I can set background color and font type and color, it is all nice, but not essential. I couldn’t care less if it has completely cheezy interface as long as can handle playback well. I didn’t test video playback as I see no point at squinting at 1.8″ screen. Anything less then 7″ is simply not worth the pain. I don’t know how people do this on their cell phones, frankly I don’t care, phones are for talking with other people and that is what they should do.
In short Rockbox rocks big time.
Here is one thought to ponder, new Sansa has wireless, I wonder what kind of goodies would be possible to do with Rockbox.