Flasf mp3 player recommendations
May 10, 2006 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Today's request for an mp3 player recommendation.

I’d welcome your recommendations for a new flash-RAM mp3 player for my walks. Advice on this has been asked previously, but I have my own specific wish list:


* A power-off 'suspend play' function. I often listen to 30+ minute spoken word podcasts; I want to be able to shut the player off when I've reached my destination, and resume where I stopped the next morning. [This is number one with a bullet.]

* No proprietary file management software. When plugged in a USB port player should appear as a drive under XP, and file management handled under Windows.

Would be nice:

* Some kind of display for simple file selection.

* 128 megs is all I need, I'd rather not pay for more. Yes, I know I'll probably have to.

* Powered from AAA or AA battery(s)

* Unusual robustness. I don't plan to subject it to the stress of, say, jogging

Don't care:

* Sound quality. My 54 year-old ears just won't appreciate anything over a basic competence, even with music, let alone spoken word recordings.

* USB version - I'm not loading 40 gigs of tunes

* FM radio. You've got radio worth turning on in your town? Must be nice.

Anyone got any ideas? Thanks.
posted by mojohand to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
The Creative MuVo TX. There's a version with FM radio (which I have), but you don't want that. Good, basic player.
posted by GuyZero at 8:13 AM on May 10, 2006

Oh, I should mention - it does the suspended play thing you mention. It picks up where it left off if it's properly turned off. If the battery dies, it picks up wherever you left off the last time you properly turned it off.
posted by GuyZero at 8:14 AM on May 10, 2006

I LOVE the creative MuVo TX. I have the 1GB, which amazon is now offering for around $70 (plus it has the FM). You just drag and drop your audio files onto the drive, plus you can use it as a jump drive. No crazy proprietary software, plus it's really small and you can put it on your keychain. It only takes one AAA battery and seriously, I am in love with this player. I was all gung-ho to tell you about it, but GuyZero beat me to the punch, so I second his advice.
posted by ml98tu at 8:19 AM on May 10, 2006

Another vote for the Muvo. My wife uses the 256mb version and I have the the 1gb version. I exercise and do yard work with mine. They run foir 8 hours on one AAA battery. Go over to fatwallet.com and you can find these for less than $50. And the sound quality is great, which is important for hearing the spoken voice clearly. My ears are only a couple of years younger than yours and they appreciate it. Be aware that it comes with software, but you don't need to use it - just plug it into your USB port and it's treated as another drive.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:34 AM on May 10, 2006

Oops, I meant to say do a search at fatwallet.com for a deal on these.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:35 AM on May 10, 2006

Just FYI, most every flash player will do a "resume" nowadays.

I'd recommend a aaa-battery player from Iaudio's line, but the creative players are fine too. You could probably find an older, lower-mem one on ebay real cheap.
posted by selfnoise at 8:36 AM on May 10, 2006

I recently bought this:
Creative Zen Nano 512MB

I'm very happy with it. My only complaint is that there is no "hold" button. Otherwise it has it all: AAA battery, works like a flash drive (no software install). There is a "plus" version for $10 more that has an FM tuner if you're into that.
posted by tom_g at 8:54 AM on May 10, 2006

I recommend the Nano over the Muvo, the Nano being smaller and one piece (vs. the two piece Muvo). That said, the Nano needs a cable to connect to computers and is only available in 512MB and 1GB flavors.
I'm sorry to generalize, but pretty much any (non-apple :) 128 flash player on the market fits your specifications. Usually it ends up as a tradeoff between size and interface. I used a cheap cheap Coby for a while and it worked flawlessly. Then I sat on it and cracked the LCD.
posted by pantsrobot at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2006

I JUST got one that is almost exactly like the one you are looking for yesterday (for my mom).
I got this: Sansa SanDisk M230

Cheap ($50), easy to use display, Flash, 512 MB (I know that is more than you want), USB, hold button, FM radio with presets, takes a(n) AAA battery, and voice recorder just in case you feel like doing that.

I just loaded it up for my mom and it was incredibly easy to load and navigate.

I was considering the MuVo and I am really glad I chose the SanDisk instead. Plus the guy in B and H said it was better, and I trust those dudes. Go SanDisk!!
posted by rmless at 9:10 AM on May 10, 2006

I have the Creative MuVo Slim 256 MB MP3 Player Black which will satisfy most of the requirements.

1. Uses mp3 and wma formats. So, easy to load.
2. No software required to operate it. Shows up as a removable drive in XP.
3. Has a mic and radio. Can record and listen to the local channels.
4. Plays with PlayForSure, which is a windows-media site that can transfer all the songs that you buy from Microsoft-related sites.
5. Small size: Credit Card size thick. Small and easy to carry.

1. It charges by USB only.
2. There is no belt clip/strap or any other way to attach it on your arm as you walk/jog.

Good luck with your choice. I think Creative is doing good in small flash-based players and you will like it if you stuck with Creative.
posted by kromatographic at 9:15 AM on May 10, 2006

I got rid of a MuVo TX (256MB) for a Shuffle (1GB) and then that for a Nano (4GB), but for what you want it sounds like the MuVo is appropriate. It is cheaply made comared to the Apple offerings, the Creative software is far worse than iTunes - though all three can be just plugged in and viewed as a drive in Windows, and support, well, if it goes bad Creative can be useless.

Please go to an Apple store and check out the Nano. I think you'll find you like it. They are happy to help you with all your questions. It may not fit what you want, but I'd never trade back for what it's worth, and I HIDE mine / use black headphones since I have no interest in showing off "an iPod". They just work right.
posted by kcm at 9:55 AM on May 10, 2006

I have an old 128mb MuVo, one of the pre-LCD-screen varieties. Still works fine although my wife is now using it exclusively as a jump drive. Battery life is pretty good, not too difficult to use at all. As long as your audio files are in the root directory, you hit play and it plays. Small, light, throw a rechargable AA in the thing and you're good to go. Only drawback I've seen is that the USB stick portion is a little chubby - can't fit into the recessed USB ports on the front of some computers (Mostly Dells - other systems, with the USB port flush to the computer case, aren't a problem). It also means you may have to unplug other USB devices to plug this one in, if your USB ports are close together.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:15 AM on May 10, 2006

Also, forget about the Nano. Unless you really honestly think you'll suddenly want a tiny color screen, the desire to buy music online, and the ability (requirement, actually) to use iTunes to manage your files, you don't need to spend $250 on a flash-based device for the usage requirements you listed above. It's like buying a sports car to drive three blocks a day, when a bicycle will get you there for far less money. The MuVo needs no software, or will happily work with whatever media player you like (WMP, for example, or Winamp both detect it as a media device and are happy to manage moving files onto it for you).

I own a 5G 30gb iPod video, my wife has a Mini, trust me - for you, buying an iPod is overkill.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:20 AM on May 10, 2006

Oops on post-view, I meant the Creative Zen Nano Plus and not the iPod Nano
posted by pantsrobot at 10:36 AM on May 10, 2006

I second the disagreement with the nano - mine drives me nuts with it's poor interface and ergonomics. They're very difficult to operate when it's in your pocket and you can't see the screen, or when you're cycling/driving and can't take your eyes off the road. Or when you're wearing ski gloves, or... pretty much anytime anywhere other than sitting at my computer where I nolonger need a portable mp3 player.
My recommendation isn't a model, but something to look for: a button-driven interface, where the buttons are sculpted prominently enough (with non-symetrical layout and tactile feedback) to easily and reliably operate by feel.
A screen is important to have, but with good design it shouldn't be necessary for most operations. Preferably the buttons can easily be operated blind through a few layers of fabric (indication you can easily operate it without taking it out of a pocket or putting your hand in the pocket).

It smay seem like ergonomics don't matter much, but I find that just by using a device, if the design is good enough for easy blind operation, over time I just naturally end up doing more and more without having to think about it, without it interrupting what I'm doing. If you still have to stick your hand in your pocket or give it attention to operate it even after several weeks of use, it's poorly designed and as a result is intruding in your life when it shouldn't.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:27 AM on May 10, 2006

I bought a used MPIO FL300 128 meg player. I quite like it, and it meets your requirements.


earbud/neck strap combination is very comfy
USB battery
LCD screen
Handsome, sorta

proprietary 3.5mm/USB adaptor means you can't charge and listen at the same time
Difficult to operate by touch (as Harlequin has brought up, but not a problem if you're listening to 30 min podcasts)
posted by Brando_T. at 1:23 PM on May 10, 2006

Edit: I see you're looking for AA battery power, not USB. I'm a fan of the USB powered devices (just more convenient), and I've yet to exhaust the MPIO's batteries.
posted by Brando_T. at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2006

I used an older version of a muvo and it worked basically like a flash drive with a play button, battery and headphone jack. Sounds perfect for you, even down to the battery power, assuming they've kept them like they were a few years ago.
posted by MadamM at 7:04 PM on May 10, 2006

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