Or failing that, a time portal to 2005 and $100 or so in appropriately dated bills...
November 16, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone make a thumb drive that plays MP3s?

Yes, I know that what I'm looking for is more conventionally referred to as an "MP3 player" but nothing that flies under that moniker seems to suit my (I wouldn't have thought esoteric) needs:

1. It needs to function natively, without drivers or special software, as a flash drive on all major OSes (i.e. it should use UMS rather than MTP or iTunes). No needing to hold down the menu button for twenty seconds to enable UMS mode or needing to install warranty-nullifying third party firmware or anything like that.

2. It needs to charge and tranfer via a built-in USB jack. I don't want to have to haul around cables (or worse batteries) in order to recharge the thing or to get data on or off of it.

That's it. Once upon a time, these things were de rigeur for MP3 players. I understand that fashions have changed, but surely someone is still offering a product like this. The last MP3 player I was happy with was a Samsung YP-U1Q. If I could buy another one of those, I would be perfectly happy (2 gb is enough for me, though that's probably the lower limit). But no one seems to have them in stock anymore and I'd rather not buy used (I've had bad luck with used electronics). I guess that's another requirement: It must be available new and with a warranty.

Still, doesn't seem like all that much to ask...
posted by 256 to Shopping (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just about any yum-cha mp3 player I've had would fulfill these requirements.

I'd start with dealextreme's range. eg this sort of thing, which I got as a branded christmas pressie from work last year. Build-quality was awful and the cable which came with it was shoddy, but then, $6...
posted by pompomtom at 2:45 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: Just about any yum-cha mp3 player I've had would fulfill these requirements.

Unless I'm mistaken, it fails requirement #2. I'm looking for something with the male USB port built in like a thumb drive has. It looks like that player requires a USB-mini cable.
posted by 256 at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2010

Quite right. Perhaps something like this one.
posted by pompomtom at 2:55 PM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Those all seem pretty standard features on USB stick players to me. Last one I had was a Samsung more or less like that, are they hard to get now? Amazon seems to have a whole bunch of equivalents, this one for instance.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: pomtomtom: That one looks like it fits the bill and the price is right. Would it be asking too much for it also to have a "next song" button?

Artw: Sadly, Samsung stopped supporting UMS in the North American and European markets shortly after the YP-U1. I actually bought one of their players last year, thinking it looked like exactly what I wanted, but it was Windows only, as is the YP-U6 you linked to. I use Windows, OS X and Linux regularly enough that I need something that works without special software on all three.
posted by 256 at 3:28 PM on November 16, 2010


Might this help? I'm not sure how up to date they are.
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on November 16, 2010

Would this Cowan model work?
posted by txsebastien at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2010

posted by pompomtom at 3:50 PM on November 16, 2010

Better product page, and some other Cowon models:
Take Two
iAudio E2
iAudio i7

I had the predecessor to the iAudio i7 and used it with Linux. Plug in, transfer files, charge. Unplug, enjoy your MP3's (or Ogg or several other formats).
posted by txsebastien at 3:53 PM on November 16, 2010

Maybe the Sony Bean?

I have one, and it was a great little player (when I had a windows machine to run it - but it was also a thumb drive)
posted by bibliogrrl at 5:00 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: pompomtom: you are awesome and thank you for more and more links, but that new player you linked doesn't say anything about UMS/Linux/OSX support and I've learned better than to assume. It looks like a knock-off or remaindered Sony NWZ-B135F and those are definitely not Linux compatible.

txsebastien: I love the look of those players, but none of them seem to have a built-in USB plug.

bibliogrrl: the Sony Bean doesn't seem to support OS X or Linux.
posted by 256 at 5:22 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, and i just noticed that that second player that pompomtom linked to doesn't saya nything about Linux/OSX support either and that, of the two people on DealXtreme who report having purchased one, neither of them were able to make it work at all.

So I guess that means that we're still at zero. Maybe this thing just doesn't exist anymore?
posted by 256 at 5:38 PM on November 16, 2010

Darn. Came close. My old Muvo sticks (128 mb) are pretty much usb sticks with a button and a battery. But, the AAA battery breaks rule #2. If that is negotiable, I (used to) use these things as usb stick drives back before sticks got cheap. I still use these as junky players for lawn mowing, etc.
posted by skypieces at 6:25 PM on November 16, 2010

Later version of same stick, pulled apart to show usb male end.
posted by skypieces at 6:29 PM on November 16, 2010

The ones marked "USB" should work fine with Linux--I've used them before pretty extensively with Ubuntu. One of these models should be fine. Avoid buying them off ebay, though. A lot of sellers alter the disk information to falsify how much they hold.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 PM on November 16, 2010

Response by poster: PhoB: Sadly, that player requires a battery.
posted by 256 at 8:30 PM on November 16, 2010

Best answer: Looks like you can still buy a samsung u5. Looking around on amazon for "mac-compatible" players also brings up a few random ones, albeit with crummy ratings.

Some mp3 forum or site used to have a comparison page where you could plug in the features you wanted and it would list compatible players. Maybe anythingbutipod?

If the problem is just the impracticality of carrying a cable, one workaround might be to use a mini usb adaptor. Cowon makes one that you can carry on a keyring. Coby seems to have one in a lanyard. They're small enough to fit in a wallet (for some values of wallet).
posted by mail at 10:06 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

One last shot--you might try UXCell, which is in Hong Kong. It looks like they have quite a few models that charge through USB, though many seem to be back-ordered. Or shaped like teddy bears. You can find reviews of these sorts of players here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:52 PM on November 16, 2010

256, you refer to UMS, but that's not a term I've ever seen associated with USB mp3 players (and I've spent a not-incosiderable time researching them, searching deperately for one to meet my own requirements.) UMS is in my experience much more often referred to in tech specs as MSC (Mass Storage Class). Perhaps this will help you un-eliminate a suitable candidate? (or at least give you something else to search for)
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:11 AM on November 17, 2010

Response by poster: I just bought the Samsung U5. Thanks, mail!
posted by 256 at 6:51 AM on November 17, 2010

Best answer: Late to the thread, but just fyi, the Archos Key.
posted by alb at 8:13 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: alb: Oooh... Now I know what to get if the U5 doesn't work out. Plus it's a new model, so if I want to upgrade from that U5 in a year or two, it should still be an option. Thanks!
posted by 256 at 8:26 AM on November 17, 2010

Response by poster: Just a followup for anyone who might be reading and looking for something that meets the same criteria:

The Samsung U5 is exactly what I was looking for. The sound quality is not as good as some other mp3 players that I've tried (it has a little bit of a portable-stereo-in-a-shipping-container edge to it, no matter how you adjust the equalizer), but that is entirely irrelevant in light of the fact that it does what I fucking need it to.
posted by 256 at 4:02 PM on December 15, 2010

Further data: the Centon Craze also has integrated usb. I have no opinions about it's quality, but it's another one to add to the list.
posted by 8dot3 at 4:39 PM on February 2, 2011

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