Monday, December 29, 2008

Sansa satisfaction

I think I've finally got my Sansa Fuze up and running to the point I'm happy with it. Here's a quick run-down of where I'm at:

I'm exclusively using the Fuze under my main operating system, Ubuntu. Amusingly, I couldn't use it under my secondary Windows XP installation if I wanted to, because something on my old Presario R3000 laptop is not working quite right, and many USB devices—including the Fuze—won't work under Windows. They work slowly under Ubuntu (about 5 MB/sec transfer rate), but they do work.

The Fuze is operating in MSC mode, where it simply appears as a hard drive. If there's an advantage to using MTP mode, I'm not seeing it, and I'm not keen on moving away from my newfound love in Quod Libet. When I disconnect it, it reindexes my music and I'm ready to go.

Speaking of disconnecting, I'm sort of irritated that it goes into host mode every time I plug it into USB. USB is the only way you can charge it, so if I do find myself with a low battery sometime, I won't be able to play music while it charges... unless I get myself one of those dedicated USB power transformers. Ugh.

To get album art all working happily, I dug around in the official Fuze boards and found out while the Fuze can read embedded album art in MP3s, it seems to prefer a file called Album Art.jpg in each folder. This enabled art in the album browser as well as added art to my previously art-less Ogg Vorbis files. So, now in addition to vorbissort, I have another quickie script that walks my Music folder and uses ImageMagick to convert Picard's cover.jpg files into 120×120 Album Art.jpg files. It literally is a single line of shell:
find . -name cover.jpg \
-execdir convert -verbose cover.jpg -resize 120x120 Album\ Art.jpg \;
In addition to writing vorbissort to deal with the Vorbis album art so it didn't get in the Fuze's way, I also had to re-run all my MP3s through Picard and make the ID3v2 tags version 2.3 (which they already were) and ISO-8859-1 (which they were not). No more foreign languages in my MP3 tags, but it's no real big loss.

Finally, and perhaps most irritatingly, I've resigned myself to the knowledge that I will probably never be able to watch videos on this thing. Sansa includes a Windows program (that I can't run) to convert videos, but I hear it does a crappy job, and nobody has yet discovered how to make ffmpeg encode for the Fuze. Watching the sample video that came on my Fuze as shipped, I'm not so sure it's a loss, though... it's pretty poor.

Now that I've got this perfect setup, the Fuze is pretty much perfect. My wife joked a few days ago that its primary purpose is to put me to sleep, since I used it on Christmas Day with some random new agey songs I had from eMusic to relax and get over an excruciating sinus headache, ending up sleeping in the chair... then back at home, fell asleep again in my recliner doing the same relaxation routine to get over some stress. I laughed at the time, but then one morning when I was merely in my recliner listening to some rather un-relaxing Transatlantic, I fell asleep again. Maybe there's something to this...

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posted by zigg 10:37 PM


Its a conspiracy to make you more relaxed Matt, K just tipped that hat to early

Blogger TomInGrandRapidsMI December 30, 2008 10:18 AM  

If that's the case, I wholeheartedly approve. :)

Blogger zigg January 3, 2009 9:31 PM  

120x120?! Are you mad!

Anonymous Brandon January 7, 2009 12:20 PM  

120×120 is the native res that the Fuze displays album art at, actually! Its screen is like 220×176 or some insane resolution like that.

Blogger zigg January 7, 2009 8:45 PM  

There's a quick fix for the power issue. Simply buy a cheap USB extension cable, and rip out the two data lines with a pair of pliers. The fuze is designed to play music and charge when there is no data line, to support things like car chargers. I bought a 1' extension cable off Amazon for a few bucks (so I wouldn't have excess cord), popped them out, and it plays fine while charging. If I want to sync, I simply unplug it from the extension cord and connect it directly to the USB port.

Also, I mentioned in an older post - Sansa just released new firmware which solves a lot of the OGG issues, including the display of embedded album art.

(After doing this, I've read the preferred method is to short the data lines, not rip them out, so I would check on this. Mine works fine, however.)

Anonymous Piebandit February 1, 2010 3:55 PM  

Yeah, that makes sense. Since I made this post, though, I picked up the now-discontinued Griffin iTrip for Sansa, which charges my Fuze every morning as I play it in the car. I don't think I've ever come close to running the battery down since. Pretty nice!

Blogger zigg February 1, 2010 10:47 PM  

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