Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Using the cheapo MP3 player

Well, I used my cheap MP3 player bought off of ebay for $17 today.

Basically it just works - select a file, click play and it plays it. When you're done you can delete it or keep it. Your choice.

The fact you add content just by copying it to the player makes the business of listening to ad hoc mp3's of seminars and preso's simple

In use the menu structure is a little odd, and the thing that looks like an ipod control switch doesn't work the same way but essentially all the functionality is there, and the sound quality is pretty reasonable too. I've actually got to say I'm quietly impressed with the device. Not as slick as an iPod, but certainly a lot better than my original USB stick MP3 player.

That's the plus. The minus is my decision to use gPodder as a podcast management application. It works, it downloads, it syncs but it's by no means perfect. And it's slooow!

It lacks the comprehensiveness of some of the commercial applications, meaning you quite often have to track down the url of the rss feed for the podcast you are interested in, and then add the feed to your collection manually.

Now if you wanted to crowd source a database of podcast feeds this would be an interesting and perhaps innovative way to build content, and perhaps it's intended as such. Unfortunately the database is eccentric, perhaps reflecting the demographics and interests of the gPodder community.

The other problem is that it doesn't have a two stage sync mechanism. It downloads the sound files to a directory on your pc. It would be nice to have an on demand  second stage where it syncs the podcast directory to a particular filesystem path, which as the mp3 player presents itself as a filesystem would be a fairly simple thing to do, with the device name and path stored locally in a configuration file. Given that it already has an 'export to local file' function extending it to do synchronisation should not be too difficult ...

However, grumbles aside, the set up basically works and lets me do what I want to do, and $17 plus some free software seems a hell of a lot better than an iPod or an iPhone ...

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