MP3 player that works like a simple flash drive
April 5, 2008 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm completely clueless about mp3 players. What brands should I be looking at if I just want something that I can copy mp3s to like a simple USB flash drive, and which doesn't require a software install on the host computer (i.e. iTunes)?
posted by tinkertown to Technology (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
my brother bought me a Sandisk mp3 player about a year and a half ago.

no software to install, and to add/remove music i just drag and drop. it's so simple.
i can't find my mp3 player on their website, but if you buy one of their basic models, i'm sure it's the same thing.
posted by gursky at 8:40 AM on April 5, 2008


Depends on how much memory you want. If it's only 1 gig or 2 gig's, I suggest the Sansa SanDisk m240 or the m250. They both support drag and drop like a flash drive.
posted by saxamo at 8:41 AM on April 5, 2008


many popular mp3 players, most notably some ipods, can get the functionality (and more) with the easy install of the rockbox firmware.
posted by paradroid at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconding a Sansa 200 series with Rockbox installed. Before I installed Rockbox, I didn't like the Sansa all that much. Since installing it, it has been absolutely fantastic.

The Sansa e260 is also expandable with a micro SD card, which is handy.
posted by tomble at 9:05 AM on April 5, 2008


My brother has a Creative Zen Stone. It's like an iPod shuffle, but without the need for iTunes, you can simply drag 'n drop files in Explorer and/or Finder.
posted by husky at 9:08 AM on April 5, 2008


You want a player that is MSC or UMS compatible. Most of the Korean players (Cowon, iriver, etc) have this functionality, which allows you to treat the player just like a USB drive. I had a Cowon U2 for a while and really liked it. Some Creative players also have this ability.

I currently have a Sony NWZ-A818 which I really like... it is described by Sony as MTP only but actually is capable of MSC.

I would skip the earlier model Sandisk players just because they have really mediocre sound. The Clip, a newer player, has much better sound and from what I have heard it does have undocumented MSC support.
posted by selfnoise at 9:12 AM on April 5, 2008


Creative MuVo is nice.

I have an old iPod Photo 30G which I never use. My MuVo (2G model) is always in the travelling bag. Whether I use it or not is another question, but since it takes a single AAA battery I always know it can be ready to go at a moment's notice.
posted by devbrain at 9:35 AM on April 5, 2008


Cowon/iAudio have always been good to me. Lots of models, both flash and hard drive, great battery life, lots of audio (and video) format support and you can put Rockbox on the M5/X5. My M5, and all of their other models, I assume, shows up as USB Mass Storage on Win/Mac/Linux.
posted by jbullion at 9:52 AM on April 5, 2008


You can use an iPod Shuffle in this manner if you download iPod shuffle Database Builder. (You'll have to install Python first, which is an easy installer too). Then, you just copy your files, double click on the script, and bam - you're good to go. No iTunes necessary.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and you can get refurb iPod shuffles from Apple for 39 bucks these days. We own three refurb iPods and have never had any problems with them.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:50 AM on April 5, 2008


seconding the Zen series. Great players, great sound (god iPods sound horrible!), and has drag and drop. Good prices too.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2008


Thirding the Zen stone. Plugged in, it looks (to the computer) just like a USB drive that you can drag files (.mp3s) onto. Good sound, too.
posted by dws at 1:01 PM on April 5, 2008


I love my Sandisk Sansa because it takes SD cards and lasts forever on one AAA battery.
posted by loiseau at 2:08 PM on April 5, 2008


If you plan to go the Sandisk/Rockbox route (and I'd at least consider it--I think they're some of the nicer flash-based non-Apple players), be aware that Rockbox doesn't run on the newest-generation E2xx players.
posted by box at 5:19 PM on April 5, 2008


Also, seconding Cowon/iAudio, especially if you want a hard-drive-based mp3 player. And, while they're not as nice as they used to be, iRiver still makes some nice mp3 players.

(And you can do it with an iPod, kinda--you just have to run Windows and keep vPod on there.)
posted by box at 5:22 PM on April 5, 2008


Winamp also has a plugin that allows you to use the iPod without iTunes installed... It's not drag-n-drop, but it's close! If you like the iPod interface (that is, the interface on the player itself), it might be worth investigating.
posted by ranglin at 5:49 PM on April 5, 2008


chrisamiller: "You can use an iPod Shuffle in this manner if you download iPod shuffle Database Builder. (You'll have to install Python first, which is an easy installer too). Then, you just copy your files, double click on the script, and bam - you're good to go. No iTunes necessary."

Somehow, I think someone who is wanting simply file copying functionality might find installing and running a python script a bit complicated.

One option is upgrading whatever cellphone you're using to one designed for MP3 playing. Then you can simply copy the MP3s over using bluetooth (which is slow but easy). If you were thinking about getting a new mobile phone (or your mobile already has this functionality) you can save yourself from having to haul around two separate devices.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:45 AM on April 6, 2008


Somehow, I think someone who is wanting simply file copying functionality might find installing and running a python script a bit complicated.

Steps:
1) Install Python (an executable installer, so it's just a double-click)
2) copy the DB builder script to your device
3) double-click the script

After the initial setup, only step 3 applies. That isn't exactly rocket science.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:41 AM on April 6, 2008


Check out my previous question on the subject.

In the end, I settled on a Cowon D2, which I've been rather happy with (except for when it broke and I had to send it back for a replacement)

But yeah, nobody should have to use ITunes or Windows Media Player. Fortunately, most MP3 players that aren't completely retarded let you copy stuff over as if it were a USB drive. Look for a player that features MSC functionality. If it only supports MTP and not MSC, then it's a piece of crap and you don't want any part in it.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:13 PM on April 6, 2008


nthing the Sansa - it's almost mindlessly easy to use. It's a thumb drive with an audio output and an LCD display with buttons. Because it's a Flash drive, you can use it on any computer anywhere and you don't need any software or scripts or other miscellaneous kabuki to make it play music, which is the way it should be.

Don't buy into the iMarketing. (Although the above very simple procedure by chrisamiller works very well for my wife's Shuffle - we don't have/need iTunes.)
posted by ostranenie at 2:31 PM on April 6, 2008


That isn't exactly rocket science.

1) Install Python != doesn't require a software install on the host computer

I interpreted the OP as wanting to basically have a thumb drive with audio playback capabilities. Using iTunes isn't exactly rocket science either.

I'm sorry if it sounded like I was commenting on the ability of the OP to deal with python; my point is that it seemed like a lot of effort if all they wanted was something that worked with drag and drop.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:46 PM on April 6, 2008


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