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Author Topic: MP3 players for podcasts  (Read 2731 times)
oblivion
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« on: July 20, 2012, 06:23:53 AM »

I have two main MP3 players. The new kid on the block, a Sandisk Sansa Clip 8Gb with a 32Gb SD card, holds pretty much all the music I have, works very well, cost me far less than a 40Gb player should have done and, in general, I'm pretty happy with it.

Its downside is that any time I want to mess around with its contents, it's quite time-consuming, mostly because it's a lot of stuff to load into a database. So my old player -- a now venerable Creative Zen V+ 4Gb creature -- is still in fairly constant use as a player of podcasts. I download anything up to about ten podcasts a week (mostly BBC programmes with a side order of Answer me This and The Bugle) to a PC.

I have a "Pods" playlist on the player. The idea is that it's not terribly static. Every so often I delete the podcasts I've already listened to from the player (which automagically removes them from the playlist) then transfer the oldest twenty or so to the player (using the Creative media software to automatically add them to the end of the playlist, more-or-less in chronological order.)

So far so kludgy. (Actually, it works quite well!)

The problem? Well, the player's starting to show its age. In particular, the OLED display is getting dim. It's still readable, but it's a challenge in bright light -- and if it gets much worse, the player's going to be unusable.

So I need to think about a replacement.

Ideally, I want something inexpensive and probably no more than 1-2Gb. But it MUST be reliable with: knowing how far it's got through an MP3 and being able to resume it painlessly at powerup; playing 30-60 minute MP3s without choking; and playlist support for playlists that are externally editable with something like Mediamonkey.

Anyone got any suggestions?
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-- bests, Tim

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bob99
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 08:14:24 AM »

I also use my player mostly to listen to downloaded podcasts.  I started with a Creative Zen a couple of years ago but switched over to a Sanza Clip+ about a year ago. Mainly because I could more easily access the stored podcasts on the SD card with the Clip+ than with the Zen.
A while after using the Clip+ I changed it over to the Rockbox firmware and love it. Especially for the way it handles the resume playback.  Many times I do not get to listen to an entire podcast.  With Rockbox, when I stop in mid podcast by just turning it off, I can resume by turning it back on, pressing the down keypad three times and then the center button. I'm right where I left off.  The other nice thing I like about this is I can connect up to by PC, add or delete podcasts using any file manager, and still resume with the podcast I previously started.
I'm not an MP3 "power user" if you will, in that I haven't taken the time to figure out playlists and some of the other options. The way I work it works for me.

If you haven't looked at this one before here's a link to another post on the site discussing Rockbox. May want to give it a shot. Once I got used to it I really like it.
http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=30195.0
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40hz
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 09:10:43 AM »

If you already have a smartphone, most have an app specifically for podcasts.

About the only saving grace of my iPhone is the podcast app. It lets me grab the Linux Action Show, TechSnap, and HP podcast so I have something to listen to via bluetooth when I'm driving or headphones when sitting on a train.
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oblivion
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 09:37:03 AM »

If you already have a smartphone, most have an app specifically for podcasts.
My wife has a smartphone. I bought her a 32Gb SD card for it and loaded all her music onto it in the hope that she'd let me "inherit" her (rather newer) Zen MP3 player but she insists that battery life on the thing is only just good enough for using it as a phone and a portable web browser without making it play music too. Sad

My own cellphone is a not-too-ancient but not-too-smart Sony that I bought because I thought it'd be a decent alternative MP3 player, but its playlist management is either not good enough or I'm not smart enough to get it to work the way I want -- either is possible!
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oblivion
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 05:33:26 AM »

I'm not an MP3 "power user" if you will, in that I haven't taken the time to figure out playlists and some of the other options. The way I work it works for me.

smiley I think maybe I need to become a bit of a "power user."

I have a Sansa Clip + already, with vast amounts of music on it, spread between internal memory and a 32Gb micro SD card. I'm currently trying to work out if I should buy another one just for podcasts, buy an SD card just for podcasts that I swap with the music card when required, or something else entirely.

My podcast management process with the Zen has been relatively painless: use MediaMonkey to delete the podcasts I've listened to from the top of the playlist (which helpfully deletes not just the playlist entries but also the associated files) then use the Zen media management software to copy the next oldest podcasts off my hard disk to the bottom of the playlist (which transfers the files and makes playlist entries in one go.) [Mediamonkey won't file-transfer to device-hosted playlists -- or I can't make it do so, anyway.] Finally I can reorder the playlist so I get the right sort of mix (for instance, I'd rather alternate between comedy and serious than have too many of one sort one after another) and still ensure that I don't listen to something newer than something else I haven't heard yet. That gives me a playlist I can return to, it means I don't have to do any navigation if I'm listening in the car or vacuuming the house -- my two main things for this.

The difficult bit, I think, is keeping the playlist in synch with the files. I could edit the playlist with a text editor but that won't do the file management. I can move files around anyway I like but filenames aren't as helpful as the ID tags that the media software shows me.

Rockbox's native playlist features are -- I gather -- really powerful but the Clip + just doesn't have the most usable screen/interface for this stuff.

<sigh> I think I feel a request to a programmer coming on... smiley
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40hz
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 07:07:18 AM »


smiley I think maybe I need to become a bit of a "power user."

I have a Sansa Clip + already, with vast amounts of music on it, spread between internal memory and a 32Gb micro SD card. I'm currently trying to work out if I should buy another one just for podcasts, buy an SD card just for podcasts that I swap with the music card when required, or something else entirely.

Easiest would be to just swap SD cards. Thmbsup

The difficult bit, I think, is keeping the playlist in synch with the files. I could edit the playlist with a text editor but that won't do the file management. I can move files around anyway I like but filenames aren't as helpful as the ID tags that the media software shows me.

I don't know about you, but I never felt the need to keep a full podcast list on my portable device. I'll listen to most podcasts once (or twice) and possibly archive them somewhere if I find a good one. Otherwise I treat of them as I would a  newspaper.

For podcasts that are a "series presentation" (where I do want to keep a complete archive) I'll keep (maybe) the last two or three episodes on my iPhone. The rest just go onto my home server in case I want to hear them again.

Since I've only got something like seven podcasts with a few episodes each for mobile use at any time, they could easily fit on a small capacity SD card despite giving me 20+ hours of listening.

And since that's such a small number of items to keep track of, it's easy for me to just 'drag and drop' without getting too fancy about it.

YMMV. smiley
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oblivion
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 12:00:03 PM »

Easiest would be to just swap SD cards. Thmbsup

Cheapest, definitely. But the database rebuilding process is time-consuming and to go through that every time I put the 32Gb SD back in :shudder:

Quote
I don't know about you, but I never felt the need to keep a full podcast list on my portable device.

That's not what I do. I never -- or very, very rarely -- listen to podcasts more than once, but I tend to accrue them slightly faster than I listen to them, with the result that I have a backlog. So my PC has a folder of unheard podcasts on it, and my MP3 player gets loaded with the oldest few from that folder -- depending on available space -- which get deleted from the PC straight away and deleted from the MP3 player in due course, once played. I don't want to get to a position where I've emptied the playlist, so once I've listened to maybe 2/3 of the 10-20 podcasts on the player, I delete the listened-to ones to make space and copy a new batch to the end of the playlist.

Is that weird? I'm starting to think nobody else does this, or anything like it...  embarassed

Quote
And since that's such a small number of items to keep track of, it's easy for me to just 'drag and drop' without getting too fancy about it.

Mostly, that relies on playback being acceptable if the order isn't an issue or if the player's very good about playing things back in the order delivered. My Zen wouldn't do that -- it always tried to sort things by artist -- and while I think the Clip might be better at handling things in the order written to disk, I'd rather take control, if possible.

I'm currently experimenting with Mediamonkey. It will export an m3u playlist directly to the player that I then have to hand-edit to remove the drive letter from each line, but it might do most of what I want, one way or another. (I just have to wait 20 minutes, while the media's refreshed, to find out!)

This is so blasted complicated that I am beginning to think that it IS me that's weird, here.  embarassed
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 02:38:38 PM »

This is so blasted complicated that I am beginning to think that it IS me that's weird, here.

Maybe a little?  (kidding, just kidding) tongue

Well, good luck with whatever you work out. I can't see the point of building and maintaining a whole playlist for something I'm not going to keep - I just prefix my podcast filenames with a token character ("!") and then dump them on my player for listening. Lookup by name puts them at the top of the directory list. I'll later delete whatever I have listened to the next time I 'reload' it.

But that's me - so I may also be equally weird in a different way.



 Thmbsup
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