Date: 2010-01-23 14:11:00
two dead mp3 players, what next?

I usually only use my MP3 player (Creative Zen Stone Plus) to listen to podcasts when I take the bus to work. After the Christmas holiday break, I went to plug in my player to copy the latest podcasts to it, and it didn't power up. I tried the reset button on it, I tried "charging" it for a whole day, I tried everything suggested on the Creative troubleshooting site, and didn't get so much as a blink out of its little LED. It's possible that the battery was drained to a level below some threshold where it refuses to charge again (apparently that sometimes happens with Li-ion batteries).

I liked the player, so I found another identical one on Trademe (New Zealand's own version of Ebay). I charged it up, copied my current files to it, and it worked like a charm. For just two days. Then, as I was copying some more files to it, I got some odd I/O errors during copying, followed by generally slow performance (and USB timeout errors in my Macbook system.log file), followed by a complete loss of files on the device and and inability to boot it up (turning it on shows the "Creative" logo screen and nothing further). That was an unfortunate waste of $60.

I'm now on the hunt for a new player. One of the features I use on the player is the ability to delete a file while I'm listening to it. I do this whenever I'm done listening to a podcast, as unlike music the exception is wanting to keep the file. Anyway, a file delete operation is a must, and I never realised that this was apparently an uncommon feature. Fortunately, today virtually all manufacturers provide the full user manuals for their devices online for download. Because deleting files seems to be an obscure feature, it generally doesn't seem to be mentioned in the short blurbs.

I'm sort of having trouble finding other models because I know I don't want an iPod (I've written my own program to download and manage podcast feeds, so I need an ordinary filesystem interface). I also don't care about: video, photos, hackability (ie. I don't need to load Rockbox), more than about 4GB of space, or anything over about NZ$100.

I'm currently undecided between trying my luck with another Zen Stone from Trademe (as they don't seem to be sold at retail here anymore), or getting a Samsung U4 at retail so I can return/replace it if it's not working for me. Does anybody have any other ideas?

It does not have delete. BUT. It was so cheap (comes up on Woot fairly frequently) that whatever it lacks, I cannot bring myself to care. The Sansa Fuze. Mine was refurbished, $28 shipped (in the states, ymmv), the 2GB model. Also, it just comes up as a drive when plugged in on OS X. Expandable via micro SD.

I am not finding any at the moment at that low of a price, but they have been up on Woot twice now.

Somebody else pointed me to the Sansa Clip, which does have a delete function. In fact, according to the user manual for the Fuze, it does too:

To delete files directly from the Sansa player, follow these steps:
  1. In playback mode, press the Submenu button.
  2. Select Delete.

Thanks for the tip, I'm now trying to locate somewhere I can find a Sansa device here in NZ.
I have a Visual Land VL-878 (which I don't particularly recommend) that supports file delete despite there being no mention of that in the manual. I discovered the feature by trial and error - it turns out an otherwise unassigned button in the file browser brings up a "Delete this file yes/no?" question. It also claims (on the vendor's Web site) to support Ogg files, and doesn't. Moral: don't trust what the vendor or the manual say the device can and can't do, in either direction.
Have you tried putting the battery from the new player into the old one? Or did they make that really difficult?
I have considered that, but they made opening the device exceedingly difficult. I haven't figured out how to open it up without destroying the case. In fact, I haven't even figured out how to open it with destroying the case.
Both devices failed after being connected to the same machine?

You sure you don't have something weird going on with your USB connection?
I tried three different machines with two different OSes, three different USB cables, plus a powered hub to try to charge the original player. I'm pretty sure the problem lies in the player itself. :)
You know, on further investigation you may be on to something. The new player would still be detected when plugged in but the volume was empty, so I formatted it and that made the device work when powered on normally (I suspect there was something fatal like a scrambled FAT). I tried copying a bunch of files several times and it seems to be that one of my USB ports works better than the other. This bears further investigation, but I think I have a player that works for the moment.
[info]edm : USB ports
FWIW, one of my friends once had a USB port that when certain things were plugged into it, the computer would spontaneously reboot. Mostly. Sometimes it actually worked. So it could be something odd about the USB connector causing problems. Or maybe that port isn't quite providing enough current for charging and proper data transfer.

(FAT is, unfortunately, particularly prone to corruption. And it doesn't surprise me that most media players recover rather ungracefully.)


PS: Do remember that most iPod/iTunes database formats have been reverse engineered, and thus have various third party support. (That said, I'm not sure if (m)any of them support delete on the device. I just remember to delete them next time I'm copying stuff on.)
I like the Cowon range, especially iAudio (

One of the main draws for me is that they play flac files.

Yes, you can delete files, despite the manual only seeming to indicate you can delete bookmarks and playlists. (From the iAudio 7 version onwards, earlier ones lack the file delete.)

but rockbox *does* support delete current file...even on my ancient ass archos jukebox. just fyi =)
Sure, but I don't want to carry around a brick-sized player just to be able to run Rockbox!
of course not, but i assume it provides the same functionality on all platforms, so if you find a smaller player it supports that doesn't currently support file delete...
It seems that Rockbox doesn't typically run on the very small players that have only a few-line display. I had a quick look at the players supported by Rockbox but unfortunately they were all somewhat larger or more expensive than what I was looking for.
Greg Hewgill <>