Monday, October 30, 2006

Audiobooks complaints

These aren't my complaints but ones staff seem to get a lot from the public.

Don't play on iPods - True they don't and iPod users have the bulk of the market for mp3 players (about 50-60%. In fact I have looked at a lot of similar services and so far I have only seen a few that would work on iPods and they quit offering the service to libraries. Now the books are only for purchase by the public. At present only Overdrive and NetLibrary offer services for free borrowing from libraries and they are exclusively Windows Media DRM. iPods to have the biggest martket share of players but books are not easy to get onto the players. A greater time commitment is required, unless you are willing to buy all the audiobooks you listen to. The best options for these people are iTunes and Audible as sources for books. Both are going to charge fro every book downloaded. I think Audible can be cheaper in the long run through their subscription plans.

Can't download using a Mac - Again a valid complaint but not a big issue. Apple computers are still less than 10% of the computers out there. If the user has a newer Intel mac, they can run Windows either through Parallels or in another partition on the Mac. but this is really turning the Mac into any other PC. Older macs can try using Windows Virtual Machine if they can find a copy, but it never ran that well and might not help.

Monday, October 16, 2006

SanDisk Digital Audio Player

I got my mp3 player last Friday and since I've used them for the last several years I figured I'd post a review here.

I've read the cNet reviews and wasn't expecting much but I'm frankly a bit impressed. First I'll mention the major points from cNet and then give you my take.

cNet Review comments-
Sound isn't good - improved on version 2 player

No speed control in version 2

Menus hard to navigate

Books don't play in correct order

No line-in recording

Did I mention they didn't like the sound quality?

Okay, here's my perspective.

First of all I suspect if I was willing to try the earbuds that came with it I might agree with cNet but the earphones that are comfortable to me give great sound with it. I have yet to find mp3 player earphones that I can wear for more than 10 minutes so I'm afraid I can't bring myself to try them. However, I have used my favorite earphones and I've listened to music, FM, and audiobooks on it. I tried the player with mid-priced computer speakers and they sound as good as a decent stereo. So scratch the Sound Quality complaint.

The FM tuner is surprisingly good. My house is noted for bad reception and I even drew in WDAV from Davidson with no problem and believe me Classical Music is a good test. If it sounds good anything will.

I guess someone might miss the speed control given the comments about that feature in Overdrive Console but I've never had an mp3 player with that feature so I don't see it as a complaint big either.

I had no problem with the menus. I didn't even look in the book Helene gave me.

I loaded some music and books from 3 sources. NetLibrary, Audible, and OverDrive using the link Frank sent us. Everything seems to be playing in order but I do have the random play feature turned off. In fact it came with it turned off, I did turn it on briefly just to see if it worked and it turned off again just fine. Personally, since that one came from user comments I suspect they didn't even know they had it turned on. NetLibrary gives all books as a single file so order of play isn't an issue but it could be with OverDrive that breaks all books into one hour episodes. The player kept the book in order so that wouldn't be a concern if you only used the player to listen to books. But the file name is long and the part number is at the end. When navigating through the files you can't read the whole file name. It's good that the player keeps them in order for you. I did rename the files so I could easily see what part I was on so I could go listen to some music or radio and go back to the right section with less guesswork. I also keep each book in it's own folder to prevent mixups.

Not many players do have line-in recording. Though it is on the Creative Zen Nano Plus but not often. Unless you have a lot of cassettes of phono recordings you want to convert to mp3, I can't see much use for it anyway.

My final take, I give it a 9.5 out of 10 and am very happy. I wish I could find another for my husband.

My only real disappointment was that it also loses it's place when the battery runs out, stress on "also." This is a complaint I have with the other players I have. The good news is this one has a screen with a battery charge level so I can change it just before it runs out. It did keep it's place while I did a change with the player off.