My Dream Bucket o' Bolts
September 2, 2011 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find an mp3 player with very specific qualifications?

1) I want a touch screen.

2) I want to be able to customize album artwork, titles, genres and playlists with no restrictions-- some of the apps that I use just keep going online to get the art and titles, which aren't even correct some of the time. This is especially frustrating when I want to do stuff like assembling a single artist's b-sides onto one "album" of my own defining-- this is vital to me.

3) I want to be able to set shortcuts to playlists, albums, songs, anything-- just as you do for folders/files on a computer or people/apps/etc on a smart phone-- so that I can activate a playlist with a single touch, hit the ground, and run.

4) I want to be able to customize everything from the background picture to the interface-- the type and orientation of controls, etc-- again, essentially like with a smartphone.

5) Finally, the clincher: I want 120gb(/+) of space. Right now, I use my phone, and 8gb just doesn't cut it-- it's become an all-or-nothing kind of call to me.. I'd rather either put the needle on the record or put my whole collection on a device.

posted by herbplarfegan to Shopping (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't mind streaming, perhaps you could continue to use your phone, in conjunction with Subsonic on your home computer? I think that that would get you 90% of the way there.
posted by fings at 2:14 PM on September 2, 2011

Best answer: At that size range, you're looking for a player with a physical hard drive: 500GB is $60, apparently, but 120GB is not much cheaper.
With your customization requirements, I think you might be better off with a small tablet than a dedicated Personal Media Player - If you'd like to look at PMP options, Cowon's x7 was claimed to be the last of the hard-drive PMPs.

The Archos 5 runs Android and is apparently still getting regular firmware updates from the company, on top of a hardware hacking community that's retrofitting it to 2.2.

There are lots of android-based MP3 applications available - I think Songbird might fill your bill - and if you find it dosen't, you have the option of trying any one of literally dozens of others. Many support making desktop widgets of your playlists and/or the player controls so you don't ever even have to look at the app itself,
posted by Orb2069 at 2:47 PM on September 2, 2011

I've been using StreamToMe/ServeToMe to get access to all the music on my desktop from my iPhone. It's pretty slick. Obviously dependent on a network connection, obviously, and you kinda need to set up dynamic DNS (or have a static IP) to really make it work. Still—pretty slick. Gives you access to all the playlists you have set up in iTunes. Also gives you access to iPhoto photos and any videos you've got in iTunes (with on-the-fly downsampling).
posted by adamrice at 3:09 PM on September 2, 2011

Best answer: I own an Archos 5 Android, also known as the A5A, and use it as my main mp3 player. You do not want the Archos 5, which is an older generation of player, and doesn't have Android. My music library is currently 54132 titles, and uses about 300 GB. Most Android music players choke on a library of this size. The last firmware update from Archos increased the maximum number of tracks in the library of their custom player from 35K to 64K, which fixed my major complaint about the device, but it really isn't undergoing active firmware development any more, as Archos came out with a new generation of devices last November.

Of the items on your list, it does items 1, 3 and 5. The Archos player app allows you to define bookmarks, and is one of the few players I am familiar with that will meet your item 3. I don't know anything that does your item 4, unless you count skins, which I've never bothered with. Item 2 is more properly done on your PC - I use MediaMonkey, which does a great job of this. One of the best things about switching from an iPod Classic to the A5a was never having to use iTunes again.

The A5A was the first tablet to use a phone OS - it came out 6 months before the iPad. Archos is a lot like Commodore used to be - higher tech than Apple for less money, but slightly buggy. All A5A firmware uses Android 1.6, which is quite old now. The hobbyist 2.2 project still has a long way to go before it is really useable. If you really want Android 2.2 you should consider the Archos 70, a 7" tablet that has a model with a 250 GB hard drive. This will allow you to run much more modern Android software. The Archos player app in the A5A is grafted on top of Android instead of being a true Android application (similar to iTunes for Windows), and will sometimes freeze.

Archos has now rebadged the A5A as the Archos 48 (it has a 4.8" screen) giving it a similar name to their other new generation players. The only other difference is that the GPS has been disabled - it never worked right on the hard drive models.

I hope I haven't scared you off, the A5A is really unique, and does things no other tablet or mp3 player anywhere else can. It isn't perfect (for hard drive models the battery life isn't the greatest, either), but I much prefer it to my previous iPod Classic 160 GB. If you want to learn more about Archos devices the place to go is the Archos Fans Forum. They also have a patch that installs the Google Market on the A5A, allowing you to run lots of Android software - I use the Kindle and Audible apps the most.
posted by rfs at 9:56 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

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