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Portable MP3 Player w/ Unix Support? 459

oobeleck asks: "With my birthday just around the corner and my 8 mile runs needing music, I am thinking of asking for a portable mp3 player. What is the Slashdot community's experience with MP3 portables. What has the most support, what should I stay away from. I have been eye-balling the Diamond Rio 600/800 model. Any opinions on the Rio? I want something that works good with Linux/OpenBSD. Thanks for your help." Ask Slashdot last ran such an article back in April of 2000, I'm sure bigger and better MP3 players have been made since then. Which of today's players would you all recommend?
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Portable MP3 Player w/ Unix Support?

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  • A Data Point (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cliff ( 4114 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @03:08PM (#4071819) Homepage Journal
    I've been using an Archos Jukebox Studio 20 [] for about a year, now and aside from a few annoying issues (the major one being that it unexpectedly cuts off when I'm walking, and it takes some 4 seconds of holding down the power switch to turn it back on again) it's held up pretty well. And you can't sneeze at 20G of tunes on your belt, either.

    Looks like Archos has actually revamped this product, because mine doesn't look like the one displayed at the above link. Has anyone used one of these particular models before and can tell me if they've improved on the problem bits that I've mentioned?

    If they have, I'd surely recommend this model to anyone who is in the market for an MP3 player.

    • I purchased one about a month ago (it just showed up on my credit card bill) and I haven't had any problems with it yet. It hasn't cut out on me, but it does require holding down the "on" button to get it to power up.

      I haven't explicitly used it with Unix/Linux yet. But since it can function as a USB hard drive I wouldn't imagine that it would be any different than using it under Windows/Mac once you get it running.
    • zerg (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:08PM (#4072849) Homepage
      Would like to heartily second this recommendation. I only have the 6-gig model, but having a portable FAT32 hd is incredibly convenient. If you can mount a Windows drive, you can mount this in your silly Linux thingee.

      Durable: I drop this thing at least once a day, it's over a year old and still going. It recharges in ~6 hours for ~6 hours of playback. If you strap the case to your back (as opposed to keeping it on your hip), you won't have as much problem w/ skip, but you will look like a complete dork.

      The problem Cliff is experiencing appears to be unintentional jostling of the stop (off) button, so careful how you position it when you run.
      • The problem Cliff is experiencing appears to be unintentional jostling of the stop (off) button, so careful how you position it when you run.

        The Rio has a hold switch that's relatively hard to switch that will turn off all the buttons. That way you can stick it in your pocket and bump it around all you want and there's no issues.
    • Re:A Data Point (Score:4, Informative)

      by benploni ( 125649 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:12PM (#4072873) Journal
      I, too, have the Archos Jukebox Studio 20. I use it exclusively with Linux. The usb-storage driver + hotplug + usb.agent + scsi automatically mount it as a VFAT scsi device when it gets jacked into a USB port.

      Some issues:
      1) Playlists suck.
      2) The screen is kinda small
      3) It crashes on VBR MP3s sometime. Not too often but enough to notice
      4) Turning it on is irritatingly long. You'd think it's just a few seconds, but...
      5) It's not a small or light as an iPod.

      Overall, having 253 CDs in my pocket has completely changed my music habits.

      Oh, BTW, the reason that picture doesnt match it because that's the *recorder*, not the studio.
      • You need this (Score:4, Informative)

        by smcdow ( 114828 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:48PM (#4073110) Homepage
        1)Playlists suck.
        2) The screen is kinda small
        3) It crashes on VBR MP3s sometime. Not too often but enough to notice
        4) Turning it on is irritatingly long. You'd think it's just a few seconds, but...

        You need RockBox []. The purpose of this project is to write an Open Source replacement firmware for the Archos Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio and Recorder MP3 players.

        Get it now. It, um, rocks. Really.

    • Except it has a hard drive, and he's.... jogging.

    • I'll chime in:
      I have an Archos 20 as well, I got it about 2 months ago and I love it. I take it riding with me (fairly rough terrain) and I've never had it skip. I've dropped it a few times and it's fine. I use the line out to my stereo sometimes and it works well.

      The only problem I have with it is playlists. It's a pain in the ass getting playlists set up. And even if you play the list on shuffle mode it always plays the first song, then shuffles. So make sure your first song is one you like.

      If I had to do it again, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. It's great.

    • Re:A Data Point (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fiver-rah ( 564801 )
      Second the Archos. Or as it is at this point, third or fourth. :) I have the 10 GB Jukebox Recorder. The recorder doesn't have the jostle-off problem that the original poster mentioned. I bike into work with it every day and it never complains, not even the time I slammed on my brakes to avoid getting hit by a car, fell off, and landed on the side carrying it. It works like a charm under Linux. In fact, it's really just a USB hard drive, and I used it to carry files to and from work before I got a laptop. Plus, they're working on an open source firmware version for it: Rockbox []. Maybe (hope, hope) they'll figure out enough to get them to play Ogg too.

      Finally, you may not believe it but the recording features on the recorder are *really* useful. I can plug my recorder into an LP player and get MP3s ... instantly, no work on my part.

    • I got the Archos Studio 10 (10 GB model). I have been VERY impressed with it. It also has the delay in turning on, and is a speck quirky, but I have been VERY happy with it. I loaded 7.5 GB of CDs on it within the first week. I really bought it for a trip to Toronto for the Red Sox games (the Jays stomped us), thinking I could just return it if I didn't like it. It's been about a month and a half, and it totally changed my listening habits as well. I can't imagine going back to fumbling for CDs in the car. Portable harddisk, decent sound, decent batt life, you bet!
    • I have a archos recorder 20G - I love it. But...

      The guy talks about a 8 mile run. The archos is slightly heavy for that. it will not be comftarble while jogging, at all.

      A solid state device looks like a better option then a HD based device.

    • not for a runner (Score:2, Informative)

      by mlg9000 ( 515199 )
      Is nobody else here a runner? I run 7.5 miles a day so I can tell you that you can't use an Archos Jukebox Studio 20 for that. It's super nice MP3 player but it's too WAY to heavy and it would be almost impossible to control without having to stop. You need something super light (Like a flash memory player) that you can strap or clip onto your arm or the small of your back. If it slaps against you you're going to get sore after a couple miles. I have a Samsung YEP YP-NDU (about a year old) It's got a remote I clip on my shoulder and the player I put in the small of my back, makes it real easy to control and I don't even feel it.
    • I have an Archos jukebox as well and love it. However, I remember reading somewhere that they are not recommended for joggers as the constant movement can damage the hard drive inside. This would probably not be a good suggestion here as he is asking for something to use during 8 mile runs.
  • Everyone should know at this point that Ogg Vorbis encoded tracks not only sound better, but the take up less disk space as well. I would hope that any "MP3" player that supports Unix also supports Ogg Vorbis.
    • I know I'm going against the flow here, but it goes anyway...

      I've read this and that about Ogg being better and I want to believe it, but on the few experements I've done. Ogg ends up taking more disk space and significantly longer to encode (using CD-DA XTractor under win2ksp3).

      Quality, I can't tell much difference if you force it at the same bit rate. Granted I haven't done a ton of testing, but an mp3 encoded at 160 vs an ogg file encoded at VBR160 just doesn't seem to produce much quality difference. (Maybe my altec lansing speakers aren't good enough?)

      I'm sure Ogg will only improve in the future as it's still kind of a baby compared to mp3 but for right now, I'd say Ogg would be at the bottom of most people's feature list. Maybe I'm wrong.

    • Seriously... why look for a UNIX-compatible MP3 player when you can have an MP3 + Ogg + MOD player that *runs* UNIX?

      I've been using my iPAQ (with Linux) as a portable music player for a while, and it works extremely well. Capacity is not enormous, but you can add compact flash cards (or even PCMCIA hard drives if you don't mind the bulk).

    • Ogg is inherently a better-designed format than MP3 (MP3 has a few major flaws, first among them the lack of an independent scalefactor for frequencies over 16 kHz), so all other things equal Ogg would sound better at the same bitrate (or equal at lower bitrates). But all other things aren't equal -- MP3 has a very highly tuned encoder in LAME, when used with the --alt-preset command line options ("lame --alt-preset standard file.wav file.mp3" is the command-line most people should use, and ends up with files averaging in the 190-200 kbps range). The Ogg encoder hasn't been nearly as well tuned, and most listening tests seem to indicate that to match --alt-preset standard's quality, you need to use -q6 with Ogg, which averages around 192 kbps -- the same bitrate as with MP3. So your Ogg files will sound about the same at the same bitrate as your (well-encoded) MP3 files.

      Ogg does have a few other advantages, including its ReplayGain support and its lack of patents. And since the format itself is inherently better, it should beat MP3's quality eventually (though it may take a while, as most Ogg development is currently focused on low-bitrate encoding for streaming, not high-quality encoding for archival).
  • by ph0rk ( 118461 )

    and various in-dash car units, and after comparing the two, i would recommend a handheld cd-mp3 player.

    why? they new models are fast, light, and last upwards of 15 hours on batteries (my rio even spins down the CD while playing to save juice).

    CDrs are cheap, and on the average outing 650-700MB of music will last you, even if its encoded at --alt-preset extreme!

    • Do they skip easily? He does want to take it running, so that may be a contraint.
    • by ajlitt ( 19055 )
      Second that on the Rio Volt / iRiver players. They work with every single samplerate + bitrate combo, understand UDF (if you're so inclined), are very durable, flashable, and pretty much universally available. The software is well-designed (esp. the latest versions) and isn't impeded by the bugginess that many other players on the market exhibit. Sound quality is above-par, with the only real audible flaw being that the original (IMP-100 / Volt SP100) has a relatively weak amplifier.
  • You might want to read this story... 22 7&mode=thread&tid=98

    (I would have posted this 18 seconds ago... but slashdot wouldn't let me.)
  • Rio Volt SP250 (Score:2, Informative)

    by ender1598 ( 266355 )
    This player is one of the best CD-ROM based mp3 players out there. Third generation and it doesn't plug into your computer at all. Just burn mp3s to the CD and then play them. No way you can go wrong with that! It even has 400 second skip protection and the batteries last forever. Here's a link for a review. html []
    • Or you can get the SP-90 and flash it with the SP-250's firmware. All the advanced features, except you don't get a backlight. Oh, and it's like $30 cheaper. :)

      • Or you can get the SP-90 and flash it with the SP-250's firmware.

        How do you go about doing that? I have an SP90, and I don't think it was intended to be upgradable. Do you burn an upgrade CD-R and stick that in (like you do with some DVD players), or do you have to open it up and reprogram the EPROM/Flash/whatever-they-use the hard way?

        (As the previous poster said, if you're concerned about compatibility with Linux or whatever, a CD-based MP3 player is the way to go. As long as you can burn CDs, you can get your music into your player. 700 megs for 30 cents or less is also much cheaper storage than anything else on the market (by comparison, the 128MB CompactFlash card my digital camera uses cost about $60 not too long ago).)

        • The steps to flash the firmware can be found here [] . The basic gist:

          1. download the SP-250 firmware and unzip it.
          2. Hex-edit the thing so the header will be recognized by the SP-90.
          3. Burn it to a mode-1 CD-ROM and boot the SP-90 with that CD.


    • Re:Rio Volt SP250 (Score:4, Informative)

      by jamcpherson ( 211476 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:19PM (#4072923) Homepage
      Second on that one... I own the SP250 and like it very much. Besides doing an admirable job of playing standard CDs, MP3 and WMA files (it's played everything I've tossed at it), it's got an FM tuner.

      Another important feature: upgradable firmware. Few players have this. If you get the SP250, be sure to upgrade the firmware to 2.05 (available from Rio's SP250 page under the "Support" section), which adds a lot of neat stuff and fixes common complaints about the OS. I imagine it wouldn't be too hard for some enterprising soul to hack the firmware and get Ogg support.

      Also: It comes with rechargable batteries, and the player doubles as a charger.

      The only thing I don't like about the SP250 is the fact that it takes a little too long from the time you power up to the time you actually start hearing music. The SP250 "remembers" the information for the last 5 MP3/WMA CDs that you put into it -- so it doesn't need to do the time-consuming scan on them -- but it still takes several seconds of eternity from disc insert to disc play.

    • Gotta second that. I love my SP250. Just make sure to do 2 things. 1) Upgrade to the latest firmware. 2) If you're going jogging with it, be sure to turn it on and wait 15 seconds or so for the buffer to fill up before you stop running. Otherwise it will skip.

      Oh, and if the batteries are starting to get weak (sadly, you can't believe the battery gauge) you'll find that the skip protection sucks. So put in a fresh set of batteries if you haven't charged it in a while. Those Energizer Titanium thingies will power the thing for AGES! I've gotten over 15 hours off one set.
  • me too (Score:4, Funny)

    by spazoid12 ( 525450 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:08PM (#4072848)
    I have a similar question...but I'm looking for a player that works on a 7 mile run. While everyone is busy researching 8 mile MP3 players for that dude, keep an eye-ball open for one for me, too, eh?? Thanks, because I'm too stinking lazy to do it myself.
  • iPod kicks ass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MidKnight ( 19766 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:09PM (#4072854)
    Yes, it's expensive. No there isn't Linux support. But if you've got the cash, you won't find a better player out there. The interface is seamless, the battery life is good, and if you have 20GB of music, it'll accommodate that just fine. Oh yeah, you can also store your contacts & calendar on it just for kicks.

    I've had the 5GB version for about 6 months, and am constantly impressed with just how usable it is. I just wish Apple would hurry up & put out a PDA in the same vein....

    • And it works with BSD Unix. :) Sorry couldn't resist.
    • Re:iPod kicks ass (Score:5, Informative)

      by damiam ( 409504 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:15PM (#4072899)
      But there is iPod for Linux [].
      • Re:iPod kicks ass (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dhovis ( 303725 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @07:37PM (#4073445)
        It is worth noting that the iPod for Windows uses a FAT32 formatted drive. I'm sure as soon as these hit the market (within the next 2 weeks), there will be Linux software within days. People have already reverse engineered the playlist format, and the MP3 files are just stored in hidden directories.

        So if you like the iPod (and it is in your budget), you probably can't go wrong.

    • Sharp Zaurus (Score:2, Informative)

      by Luckster7 ( 234417 )
      I use a Zaurus, which has been tested with up to 1GB CF cards. Since I'm ordering a 6 megapixel camera, I'm going to be needing some large (512MB) cards anyway. Nothing like dual purpose. Now if an Ipod could dock up to a digital camera for storage I would really be impressed.

      You can store your contacts & calendar on it too.
    • I second this. The iPod is incredible. There is nothing as elegant of a design - especially in 5-20GB class of MP3 players. Skipping is not a problem. UI is great. Battery life exceeds 8 hours with just 1 hour worth of charging. It's firewire so it loads a CD's worth of audio in just seconds. It's a bit expensive per GB, but quality costs money.
  • The Creative Nomad/D.A.P. jukebox is really good. I've used a 10GB version and it's easy. The new ones has got 40GB which will store any relatively large CD-collection. There is (unfortunatly) no Linux support. (One of the few times my Windows boot is used.) I really don't see the point in the small ones which use flash or even CD's. With a bigger (bit clumpy, but just hide it in a bag when walking) jukebox you have your CD collection with you everywhere, no need to chose which CD's to take along in the limited CD-compartment. And the Nomad supports surround and EAX effects.
  • I personally use a Panasonic portable CD player that will playback cd's with MP3's on them. With 700 megs per CD, and about 6 hours on two double AA's, it has proved portable and economical. If I want to listen to a new song a friend has on CD, I can do so without having to encode it.

    I have been using mkisofs/cdrecord to burn cd's at home while at work for a while now. Just need to call my wife and ask her to put in a new CD. My kids have even got to the point they know when the CD pops out, time to put in another blank.
    • I was about to recomend my MPTrip, which is also a cd mp3 player, before I re-read the question. He wants something he can jog with, and trust me, you can't jog with a cd player, no matter how many seconds of anti-skip it claims to have.
      • Likewise, I would have recommended an AVC Soul II (DMP-201) [] player. However, this thing skips a bit more than I'd like it to, in exactly the circumstances where I'd like it not to skip.

        I have tried doing some tests of the anti-skip system, among those turning it on and playing it while jumping on a trampoline, and beating on it while it was playing. It did not skip during either of those tests, and this pleased me. However, when I walk with it, I sometimes notice it skipping after ~15 min of fast walking, so I wouldn't recommend it for jogging, as it would probably skip more, and faster. It's really great for short sprints though.
  • iPod, baby! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AtariKee ( 455870 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:13PM (#4072878)
    I suggest the iPod. With MacOS, *nix (if you can get XTunes to compile; holy crap what a nightmare), and (soon) Windows support, you can't go wrong. The price is a bit higher than other mp3 players, but you get the added bonus of having a portable hard drive for moving files around, if you need it.

    On that note, are there portable players with Vorbis support?
  • My experiences (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yamla ( 136560 ) <> on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:14PM (#4072885)

    I picked up a Diamond Rio 500 when it first became available. I really liked it at first, though the Rio Manager software (for Windows) was so gawd-awful that I bought a replacement (musicmatch). There are fairly mature drivers and software for Linux though I must admit I haven't ever played around with them. I suspect they work with the later models as well.

    That said, I am now not so happy with my purchase. The RIO contains only 64 megs of memory which, in your case, would probably be fine. I wanted more. More importantly, though, I have been unimpressed with the 'customer service' for this product. At times (last month), Windows drivers were not available for download. Finding a contact email address was difficult (though this may be resolved now). But more importantly, these devices just aren't very sturdy. Mine is now unusable except when left flat on a table and NOT MOVED. If I pick it up, the thing powers down. My brother and sister both bought one as well and at least one of the two no longer works for them, either.

    So what did I get? A Creative Nomad Jukebox 3. 20 gigs of storage and it works very well. I doubt this would be suitable for you, though... no good Linux support yet and it is very much overkill for 3 mile runs. :) In fact, as it is hard-drive based, I wouldn't want to run with it at all. On the other hand, it is great for a one week trip to Mexico (yay!) and for extended bus trips and the like. Heck, I have ALL my CDs ripped to MP3 and stored on the device and I still have over 1/3 of the storage available to me. Firewire and USB, oh my.

  • Mini Disk! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:14PM (#4072890)
    Out of all the things I have purchased and never used, my minidisk player is NOT one of them. I love that thing.

    They are pretty cheap now, I paid 80 bucks for my Sony MD walkman (bit of an older model now). The tapes are cheap too.

    One of my favorite things to do is record video game music off the stereo. I'm able to pop in GTA 3 select Head radio (better variety of weird noises between songs :-) ) and record and listen. I've later converted it to mp3 on my computer and have shared them with my freinds. I've done the same with SSX tricky. SSX tricky has a juke box feature where all the songs are played. The sound quality is fantastic!

    I recently purchased a really nice microphone for my MD player. Now I can sample sounds all over the place and use them on my computer to make music. Great if your into that sort of thing.

    Oh plus the tape adapters for the car work great! I'll never understand why they haven't caught on more with consumers. My friends say the same thing now after they have seen all the uses I've gotten out of it.
    • Re:Mini Disk! (Score:3, Informative)

      by ll1234 ( 167894 )
      (It's "MiniDisc" BTW)

      The newest entry into the MD world is NetMD, basically a USB-enabled MD recorder. The implementation is a bit shoddy, for example you can download music from PC -> MD, but you can't upload from the MD -> PC; not even material that is recorded in analog mode (say, at a concert). No doubt because Sony is slightly paranoid about keeping users in check. I still use my reliable (non-NetMD, or even MDLP) Sony MZ-R50 for recording concerts and as a portable. Much more (useful) information at the Minidisc Community Page:
    • Re:Mini Disk! (Score:3, Informative)

      by stew77 ( 412272 )
      The major advantage of MD over mp3 is for me that you don't need a computer for it. You can record MDs at a friend's house connecting your portable to her CD player or even make bootlegs on concerts. Try that with an mp3 player...
      • Mini Disc's issue (Score:3, Informative)

        by dmaxwell ( 43234 )
        You're stuck with realtime speeds loading music on the media. It takes 74 minutes to fill up a disk with 74 minutes worth of tunes. The other problem is that I have home mp3 server with my entire collection on it. No batch copy, no drag 'n' drop just a phono plug. Try me again when I can do a :

        mount -t vfat /dev/minidisc /mnt/minidisc
        cp -r tunes/ /mnt/minidisc

        and fill a disc up in 5 minutes or less.
      • With the Archos Jukebox Recorder, you can do that just fine.
    • Let me get this straight.. you record (from analog) the GTA3 soundtracks to Minidisc, then play them (analog) into your PC where you digitize them again (third generation) and compress them to MP3 files.

      You do know that the GTA3 radio stations are just MP3 files to begin with, right? Check out your GTA3 sounds directory. I dunno, might be easier.
  • I have a Rio 600 that I use when working out. It's nice, but with a few quirks. First, I've had it lock up with some songs. It's done it with some MP3 and some WMA. I usually down-sample them before putting them on the player. MusicMatch may be doing something odd to them that causes this. The other thing is the battery. I like the built-in battery since it makes the unit small, but make sure and charge it every day. It'll drain even when off, it seems.

    What I really want is a 128MB backpack with an FM tuner. Then it would about the perfect device.
  • by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:20PM (#4072926) Homepage
    I have a Nex II from Frontier Labs and absolutely love it.

    It uses a Compact Flash slot. I've used several brands and they've all worked. It currently has a 128MB card in it, but it could take the IBM Microdrive, 1GB!!

    It acts like a removable drive, attached via USB (I actually have some non-MP3 files on it and the player doesn't care). You can drag and drop (or cp) right to the NexII. You can take the NexII to another machine and drag and drop from the Nex to the machine. Lovely.

    It's incredibly small and light, just a few ounces plus battery weight. Mine came with a sweet neoprene case to carry it in that has an attached belt clip. Perfect to run or bike with.

    You can find it for dirt cheap brand new on eBay, about $80. This company [] sells them, it's where I got mine and I'll vouch for them. (I'm not associate, just a happy customer.) 128MB compact flash card go for about $40 new on ebay.

    You can get "Nexkins" to change the look of the device. Pretty trivial (the machine already looks cool) but there are some neat ones you can find on ebay.

    The Nex is really easy to use, and it's just so userfriendly I love it. Moving between tracks, changing the volume, adjusting the built in equalizer (it really works!), using the backlight are all very easy.

    I haven't had any problems with mine and I've had it for over a year. Love it, love it, love it. It really is everything you want: light, inexpensive, n*x compatible as removable USB storage, usable, and reliable.

    I really don't think you could go wrong with this.
    • I just wanted to add that I've used several other MP3 players and like the Nex II best.

      Players I've tried:
      Rio 300
      Rio 600
      Archos Jukebox (early one, don't remember the model)
      Creative Jukebox

      The Rio 300, Archos, and Creative took for-freaking-ever to fill up. The Rio 300 because it attaches via parallel port and the Archos and Creative because GBs take along time to travel over USB. And if you only fill a few 100MB what's the point of having a jukebox right?

      The Rio 600 has crappy DRM issues. You need special (Win or Mac) software to put files on it, and you can't take files off it on another machine.

      The yepp was basically a piece of shit.

      The iPod was excellent. But it doesn't work with n*x that I'm aware of and it's quite a bit more expensive than the Nex. I'd actually say the Nex is as easy to use as the iPod, and I just don't need GB's of space so the Nex gets my nod.

      Also, all of these are really too heavy to run or bike with except the Yepp, which was crap. The Nex is just perfect at a few ounces.
    • I second the nex II.

      works great with the 1gig microdrive, uses AA batteries (get some good 1800mAH nimh batts) and is small and reliable. and quite functional enough to please even the most serious control freak (EDITOR: guilty as charged).

    • note that the nex-2 won't allow dir nesting of more than 1 level. so I have to create toplevel dirs for artist-name and then I only get one level below that and so you usually name it by album-name and then songs go into that.

      since the current CF-2 size is 1gig max (today), 2 levels of dir is usable. but it would be nice if this limit was removed.

      not sure a lot of people know this about the nex-2. its annoying but not a show stopper and I've learned to live with it.

    • Just here to add my support for the NEX II. I was actually swayed by the fact that it *didn't* come with any on-board memory, letting me use whatever size CF card I want. The USB transfer is a little slow, but as other posters have pointed out, using a different CF reader will solve that. If you want a tiny player with good sound quality get the NEX II. You can't go wrong.
    • Ooh, ooh. Me too! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Canis Lupus ( 1922 )
      No seriously, I bought one of these Nex II players (w/ a 265 meg card). I have used mine extensively on runs. Even long runs. *pause* Very long runs. I once took mine on a 50-miler. It worked great. (Of course, I swapped out the batteries and listened to all the music about 3 or 4 times). I want to get another compact flash card, but haven't been able to scrap together the dough.

    • I too am a very very satisfied NEX II owner...Bought largely based on the rave reviews here in the 2000 Ask Slashdot article, and just read the rave reviews [] at 92% approval! Including some idiot who put his pan of the Rio 800 in the Nex II review section! For exercise especially, where weight is a concern, the NEX II is a champ. I convinced my girlfriend and two other friends to buy one and they love it.

      And Frontier Labs are a nice, decent company to deal with. About 2 months into my NEX II ownership, I yanked the thing off an exercise machine and it took a hard fall...the LCD screen stopped working. Shipped it off to Frontier Labs, they sent it back w/in 3 days of receipt good as new, no questions. The largest delay factor was simply the unfortunate fact that Frontier Labs is based in Hong Kong.

      Which brings me to some questions about this device perhaps the savvy Slashdot community will know. What is up with Frontier Labs?! Why are they not marketing the heck out of the NEX II? You really have to dig to find one of occasionally carries it, but certainly none of the big consumer retail outlets do. I got mine via Ebay from Choke Slam Media [], a little mom'n'pop reseller, hilariously endorsed by Frontier Labs themselves.

      And why is support for the NEX II at an apparent stand-still since like 1999 or 2000? There have been zero firmware upgrades since then, and there are some obvious bug fixes/feature additions. The one-level-deep directory structure has been mentioned. There is no support for .m3u playlists which would be wonderful. And, there is a bug (Frontier Labs has told me they know about it) in the unit's display when playing VBR mp3s. Namely, it uses the instantaneous bit rate and the size of the file to estimate how much play time is left for a song. This means the display is always wildly changing while a song is playing, giving you no useful info about play time for VBR tunes. Note, however, VBR songs still play just fine. The NEX II always sounds great...the equalizer is very functional and completely customizable.

      The last question is...have any NEX II users found an armband style case that fits the NEX II? I run with mine, and though the factory case is highly funtional, and the belt clip quite sturdy, it chafes after a reasonable run. Last time MP3 players were discussed, somebody mentioned the Amphipod [] which is an ergonomic, "chafe-less" waist pack that looks awesome, but I wonder if their Micropack Landsport fits the NEX II. Any suggestions in this regard?

    • by brain159 ( 113897 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @07:49PM (#4073523) Journal
      Another generic "me too", with a few things to add:

      The NexII can be fussy about the CF cards you feed it - branded ones are a good idea. Don't be tempted to flash it up to the 1.42 firmware unless you actually NEED to - Frontier Labs pulled it from their site for a damn good reason (namely that it bites). Stick with 1.4 or thereabouts.

      Also note that the current versions of the NexII firmware will list and play back mp3s/WMAs in the order they were written to the CF card, so copy them in the "right" order - if you're a Windows addict, my little utility called copynex [] will copy files across in sensible order - I'm assuming linux users can figure out their own solution (shell/perl scripting, rewriting their OS to copy files in the desired order, etc.) ;-)

    • by FrostyWheaton ( 263146 ) <> on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @07:59PM (#4073590) Homepage
      My NEXII is currently in the posession of my brother who is carrying it with him as he hikes the Appalachian trail. He has it to listen to the Lord of the Rings a few hours a day while he hikes.

      The fact that it only uses Compact Flash cards (no internal memory) allows me to mail him more cards and let him listen to new content without having to mail the player back home to be re-filled.

      <freedom rant>

      Because this player takes CF cards and behaves like a external drive it does not have any SDMI/DRM trappings of other players, allowing me to put whatever I want on the player from whatever computer I choose. Plus it works great with my linux box as a removable drive (no dumb special purpose drivers or reverse engineered hacks).

      </freedom rant>
  • Zaurus (Score:3, Informative)

    by gabbarsingh ( 207183 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:20PM (#4072930) Journal
    I have a zaurus SL5500 []. I haven't gone jogging with it and it doesn't have any ergonomic controls like a thumb wheel to control volume. That aside, it still is unix friendly. I transfer data by two methods, put the CF card in the CompactFlash adapter and then mount that as drive on my Linux laptop - rip, copy, eject!

    At home I have a 802.11b network, plug in the []
    CF 802.11b card and the Qtopia desktop application will work with the IP address - upload, manage, roam!

    Besides that, it has a healthy developer community, Sharp supports open source efforts and it's a PDA! I'm sure that a 256MB storage card is enough for your 8-mile run! Short of a solid state device I'll only invest in an iPod.
  • I got a Rio 600 a couple years ago, for free thanks to PepsiStuff. In the end, I decided it was worth maybe a little more than what I paid for it [], but not a lot. Avoid it if you're paying real money.
  • Personally.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xzisted ( 559004 )
    I would definitley stay away from the Lyra series from RCA. They are great players but require you to use a MusicMatch or RealPlayer plugin to encode the mp3 into another format which is not playable by computers. This formatting also makes it near impossible (unless there is a hack out there I havent found yet) to pull the files off onto the hard drive an play them. They sound all garbled.

    I think if I were to get a player today I would make sure it would store the mp3s AS mp3's and that it used compact flash for the storage media. With USB 2.0 support out now for compact flash these things HAUL when copying to them and are much better than their serial (im so slow I wave to the snails as they pass me) counterparts.
  • by stevarooski ( 121971 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:22PM (#4072946) Homepage
    Since you're planning on using your player for running/strenous activity, be very sure that whatever you buy is well made and water-resistant!! Sounds obvious, but believe it or not this actually disqualifies at least half of the players out there.

    Using myself as an example of why you might want to listen to my advice, I bought an mp3 player with more or less the same goals you did, with the addition of wanting it cheap. So, I ended up buying a jaMp3 from KBGear []. One trip to the weight room was all it took. I'm a big guy and I work out hard; the sucker died the first time out from (I believe) getting sweaty.

    Anyways, I'm currently looking at the Samsung YEPP-30sh []. . .its VERY small and light, has 128 megs, relatively inexpensive, and I've heard good things about its durability. That might be one for you to consider.
    • Anyways, I'm currently looking at the Samsung YEPP-30sh []. . .its VERY small and light, has 128 megs, relatively inexpensive, and I've heard good things about its durability. That might be one for you to consider.

      I've been wearing a YEPP-30 while I work out for about two months without any problems. I tuck in my shirt and clip it on my waistband. I haven't had any problems even when my shirt is drenched with sweat. However, YMMV.

    • Make sure you test the software before you buy the Samsung. I bought a miniYEPP, and the software that came with it is really torturous to use (and unbelievably buggy, it took three crashes before I went online and found a patch, then another crash before I finally convinced it to write out the mp3s). I think the full size models use different software, but if it was designed by the same people, it may still blow goats.

      Also, afaik, none of the YEPPs are linux compatible.

  • I just have (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by geekoid ( 135745 )
    a live band following me around. the great thing is, they know exactly what kind of music to play, depending on my situation!

    waaa waaa waaaaaaa
  • 8 miles? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Diesel Dave ( 95048 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:26PM (#4072965)
    With my birthday just around the corner and my 8 mile runs needing music, I am thinking of asking for a portable mp3 player.

    Fool, ask for a bicycle instead!
  • Personally, I have an iPaq, and I use the Compact Flash card sleeve to get a 256MB CF card of MP3s to play. To load them, I just use a USB card reader to copy the files from the PC to the card and then transfer the card to the iPaq.

    Obviously, this is an expensive solution to the problem, but it works if you already have an iPaq or another PDA which can use some kind of flash media. Alternatively, just get an MP3 player that supports one of these cards.

    • just get a jornada.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by spd_rcr ( 537511 )
      they already have the cf slot, if you want to add a sleeve, you can get the extended battery & a pcmcia slot
      of course they run M$ pocketpc 2002... so they're not all good
  • I own a pjb100 (Score:3, Informative)

    by captredballs ( 71364 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:27PM (#4072970) Homepage
    I use my PJB100 about 4 hours a day. It has a linux kernel module available (but possibly not maintained) and a very nice open source command line tool (thanks folks!). I've never used my pjb with anything other than linux and haven't had any problems.


    upgradable hard drive - I'm putting a 40 gig in this weekend, up from 20
    rechargable lithium ion battery (internal)
    battery lasts ~7-8 hours if you don't modify the playlist too often
    sounds better than most other mp3 products I've listened too.
    linux, mac, and windows clients
    the firmware is very very stable

    The company that makes it is almost invisible
    The firmware is stable, but also never gets upgrade
    (and worse) the firmware is closed source
    Its not as pretty as the ipod
    It does not have a regular filesystem, which limits its potential use as a usb harddrive
    USB isn't as fast as firewire (ipod)
    It's expensive
    It could be smaller. Jogging? You would need to hold it or have a fanny pack. it's too heavy for a belt.
    It comes with a car cigarette adaptor
    The table of contents is constrained by a max size, which makes multiple playlists impossible when you've got 20 gigs worth of songs.

    All in all, I love my pjb100. I use it almost every single day on the bus and at work and it boosts the quality of life much more than any other gadget I can think of. Still, I wish the firmware was OS so that somebody smarter than me could add features ;-) Not that the original Compaq guys didn't do a good job, the thing NEVER crashes.

    You can purchase it at
    • Re:I own a pjb100 (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Erik_ ( 183203 )
      I'm using my Personal JukeBox 100 [] 6GB since December 2000. It must have been running about 4 hours a day since that time. In all that time, I maybe had to reset the device 8/9 times, and only once upgraded the firmware. It's a sturdy build, and it's been my best portable audio device ever...
      I purchased mine from K55 [] in Zurich, Switzerland. They only sell mp3 players, and they have a long list of different devices. It's in german, and the prices are in Swiss Francs, but it's still an interesting browse...
      If someone has some links or HD references for an upgrade, please feel free to answer to this reply.
      • The PJB100 was the first harddrive mp3 player to market (with 4G drive!), and is still going strong now. In fact, many of the original models now have up to 40G drives, and are still going themselves!

        it has a open-source linux SDK and many tools (linux, win32, mac os and OSX). 10-12 hours battery life - i use it 10 hours a day, every day. it recharges in under 3 hours. the firmware hasn't been upgraded in a year, but it's stable and mature. it has a gorgeous large screen. and built-in games! it also supports gapless encoding (either directly or with exact audio copy's audio image/cue file ripping), which is great for live recordings, dance or classical.

        it's also pretty large compared to the others (about the size of a not-so-modern cassette walkman), although it comes with belt buckle etc, i'd stick it in a bag on my back instead for jogging etc. also, usb is much slower than firewire, but this unit is almost 3 years old. you can buy them from thinkgeek, or many other providers, in up to 40G sizes, though 60G is just around the corner! (the drives just got released in japan last month)

        if you're looking to upgrade an existing PJB, you need a 9.5mm high 2.5" laptop harddrive. the best are the toshiba GAS/GAP units, which give the best performance as the PJB is able to use a sneaky way to conserve power between reads.

        also on the horizon is the PJB-300, though this will just be issued by the same marketing company, not manufactured by the same people (which was compaq, in this case).
        no details have been released yet, though the company has been taking ideas from the PJB100's userlist, so it should hopefully be better than the pjb100!

        hope this helps,


  • I suggest you get a player that uses a flash chip format: CompactFlash, MMC / SD, SmartMedia, or Memory Stick. Then get one of those USB chip read/write drives for your desktop computer.

    With a laptop, you can either use a USB drive, or you can get a PC Card adapter that lets you plug in the chip directly.

    This is how I manage my digital photos from my digital camera: I never plug in the camera, and haven't installed the special camera software. I just slot the chip into the drive, and treat it as just another "disk".

    If you do this with a Mac, it will stick Mac junk on the chip ("finder.dat" files and such) but it will work. On Windows or Linux, it will just work.

    I will not ever buy a player that requires me to use a special version of MusicMatch Jukebox to transfer files. Ever.

  • vote for rio 500 (Score:3, Informative)

    by neurojab ( 15737 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:37PM (#4073044)
    Here's what I suggest. Go to eBay and get a rio 500. They're going for $50. Here are some of the reasons why...

    1) Full VBR and all bitrate MP3 support
    2) Great command line linux utilities to transfer mp3s. Fast and easy to use.
    3) upgradable firmware (the latest versions add some great features)
    4) SmartMedia support
    5) Long battery life
    6) it's $50
    7) lasts forever
    8) never skips or fades
    9) fast USB transfer. It only takes 2-3 minutes to change music with the linux utilities.

    I put a 64 meg card in mine (giving me 128 megs of space), and with a good encoder (such as LAME ABR) 3 cds worth of music will sound just fine.

    I've used mine for running and working out for years and it's showing signs of wear, but still working great and it's still as solid as the day I bought it.
    • I have a Rio 500 and I haven't heard of any linux support for it? Could you give us the webpage for this stuff? I like my rio other then the fact that the 128mb card I bought doesn't work in it, and would like to get it to talk to my linux box.
  • The diamond rio had some support but it was shaky and anything but user-friendly. I was also not impressed with the 64 mb of space either.

    The portable hard drive options looked good, lots of space and easy to configure Linux to mount the thing. I was a little worried about how long it would take to move a gb of stuff through USB.

    I eventually decided to get a sony diskman with mp3 support. This allowed me to play existing cds, or burn cdrw in mp3 mode. The cd burning utilities were more advanced than the rio tools and I could burn different disks with different stuff and then easily switch out the disks. The thing runs for many hours on a set of batteries, at least 10h. Its not as portable as the rio, but not much bigger than an Archos.
  • by Moonwick ( 6444 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @06:50PM (#4073121) Homepage
    Buy an iPod. Apple so squarely has the rest of the market beat, that it's worth installing a windows partition just to interface with the unit.

    I've owned a Nomad Jukebox and used an Archos model, and they're both horribly inferior to the Apple unit.

    Note that it's somewhat easy to scratch the exterior, but the new iPods come with a decent carrying case, so that's mostly irrelevent.
  • I know your first thought is to say why would you want a cd mp3 player for jogging, but I have one, take it jogging, and have zero problems with skipping. and this is with CDRW and 192 kbps files. Its sturdy, fits well in my hand and has the best interface I've seen in an mp3 player besides the iPod.
  • I snagged a NomadII MG from Ebay and slapped a 128Mb card (also from ebay) into it. 192MB total.. enough for ~40 songs (Rush-type songs... 5-8 mins per) @112kbps. I use it when riding the motorcycle and it's great for having about 3-5 hours of non-repeating music. I think the entire bundle cost less than $250..

    It's been great. And though I've only tinkered with the linux tools for the thing, they seem to tranfer stuff well & easily. All they really require is USB device filesystem compiled into the kernel.. at this point there's not even a kernel module needed. Plus, there's an FM tuner on the thing.. not nearly as good as my Walkman AM/FM radio, but it's nice to have handy. The only complaint are the buttons.. it's way to easy to bump it when in my riding jacket and pause/switch mode/delete. Otherwise, it performs excellent. Quite pleased.
  • by Kaypro ( 35263 )
    I bought a Creative Labs Nomad II refurbed from Creatives website (no memory included). Plugged in a 128 MB CF Card. (Bought from pricewatch) Plugged the USB cable in. Loaded the software (command line only but a GUI is beta) get it here: And I was done! Couldn't be easier. Dare I say easier than windows? Bought it for jogging as well, must've dropped it half a dozen times. NO scratches and still works like it was new. Couldn't be happier. Good Luck!
  • I've been using a Nomad IIc for the last 6-8 months whilst working out at the gym. The Linux command-line app [] I use is pretty straight forward, you can even batch upload a playlist via it's FTP-like commands. Since the app uses the Linux USB file system, I don't think it's portable to other *NIX platforms at the moment (but I may be wrong).

    Since I use a treadmill or cross-country simulator as part of the workout, I like the light weight and smallish size (clips nicely on the hip or on an arm band) since it doesn't bounce around much. The Smartmedia cards are pretty cheap right now (I bought a batch of 3 128MB cards for ~$40/each at my local Fry's), so I can have different music for different days without having to remember to re-upload a new list.

    The only complaint I have is the headphones are a little on the cheap side, and will need to be replaced soon thanks to the decomposing foam pads (though that's mainly thanks to regular use and a genetic pre-disposition to sweating while exerting myself, I think). Other than that, I'd vouch for it, and I seem to recall it was pretty cheap at Tiger and a few other online outlets.

    Good luck finding the right fit!
  • iPod, plain and simple. Yes, you may find similar devices with large capacities for less money. But you will also find yourself with an ugly headache. And its Unix compatible :)
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @11:24PM (#4074503)
    Info on the Frontier Labs Nex II here []

    Quick reasons why:

    1. CF and Microdrive support
    2. No proprietary software, just drag and drop files
    3. Works on windows and Linux
    4. Cheap
    5. Great battery life
    6. No DRM crap
    7. Customer service that actually writes back (unlike SonicBlueBalls)
  • by adamjone ( 412980 ) on Thursday August 15, 2002 @10:47AM (#4076804) Homepage
    This past Christmas, my wife gave me an MP3 player for when I go jogging. It was an Iomega HipZip. I had really wanted the Nike player, and had some initial doubts about the Iomega device. It uses the PocketZip media (was Clik! disk), which is essentially a scaled down 40MB version of the Iomega ZIP disk. The package came with two disks, the player, a USB cable, a power adapter, a licensed copy of MusicMatch Plus, ear bud headphones, and a BodyGlove belt clip. It can play MP3 and WMA files, and handles VBR MP3s.

    The Pros:
    • Can swap out disks, so you can play as much music as you can carry.
    • Simple Controls - the buttons are arranged nicely that you can perform all of the basics with one hand without looking. This is nice while running.
    • Button lockout - there is a switch to cause the unit to ignore button input.
    • Resilient - I've dropped it a couple of times while jogging. It still works.
    • No skipping - I was afraid that the unit may skip, or fail since it uses a disk, but I haven't had a problem with that yet.
    • USB Support - To my PC, it looks like a standard USB hard drive. I can store photos, music, files, whatever on there.
    • Rechargeable - the unit uses an internal, rechargeable battery. In my use, I get about 8 hours of playtime per charge.
    • Price - At the time, the entire package listed above was $99.

    The Cons:
    • Heavy: the unit is heavy. This is fine if it is sitting on your desk, but a different story on long runs.
    • Bulky: Even with the belt clip, it is difficult to keep the unit seated while jogging (thus my two drops). You will have to carry it while you run.
    • Small Storage: 40MB was plenty of space a couple of years ago, but with 128MB solid state devices, and 20GB disk based units, it is falling behind fast. The PocketZip media doesn't have much use outside of your player either, unlike the flash memory that other units use. Also, the price of a disk is at least $10, which is pretty high for magnetic media.
    • Noisy: Once a song is loaded, the player is silent, but when drive spins (about every 3 to 5 minutes depending on your bitrate) it is LOUD. You can see the unit torque if it is sitting on your desk.
    • Out of Production: To my knowledge, Iomega no longer promotes this unit. You will have to find one retail, or look on Ebay. The media is still available from the Iomega site though.

    To summarize, if you are looking to purchase an MP3 player for your runs, I would not recommend the HipZip. Other players are lighter, smaller, and offer more storage than this unit.

Maybe you can't buy happiness, but these days you can certainly charge it.