MuVo woes

I listen to lots of podcasts, often in harsh conditions to which I wouldn’t want to expose a hard-disk-based device. So flash-memory-based gadgets are an attractive choice. Their capacity isn’t an issue for me because once I’ve listened to a podcast I just discard it. There’s no need to manage it as part of a collection that lives on my computer, or is synchronized to a player. If I want to hear it again sometime, I’ll download it and transfer it again.

I also do an increasing amount of voice recording, when preparing for talks. Here too, less is more. I don’t need high quality sound, just convenient recording of speech that’s recognizable on playback. Again, this recording often occurs in harsh outdoor conditions. And it sometimes occurs spontaneously, in which case I want to be able to pop in a AAA battery and go. I’ve come to loath devices with proprietary batteries that are useless if you forget to charge them in advance.

Finally, like everyone, I use USB sticks to store files and move them from one place to another.

I’ve found one device that meets all three of these requirements brilliantly: the Creative MuVo. I’ve been a huge fan of this gadget since 2004, and have owned three models. First was the 256MB MuVo TX. Later came the 512MB MuVo TX FM, which doubled the storage and added an FM radio I never used. Before giving away the TX I owned both for a while, and on one memorable occasion I found a compelling simultaneous use for the pair.

True, the device has a tendency to flake out now and then, in ways that would confound most people, but I was always able to resurrect it with a firmware refresh.

Until now. The TX FM still works as a USB drive but the player is dead. Since I was going to Staples anyway I picked up what seemed like the obvious replacement, the MuVo V100, without doing any research. Bad idea, it’s dog slow on transfers:

At Creative’s site there are three pages of customer complaints about the MuVo v100 slow file transfer rate. No fix is currently available, though Creative customer service sends customers on a useless firmware download wild goose chases and neglects to mention that the snail-like transfer rate is a well-documented problem. [Amazon customer reviews]

Sheesh. I’m taking it back, ordering another TX FM instead, and wishing that somebody would provide that excellent bundle of features in sturdier package.

5 Comments

  1. I was fortunate enough to find a recondition SanDisk Sansa 2GB on Woot the other day. While it doesn’t work on a single AAA battery they claim it’ll get many hours on a single recharge. We’ll see.

    Have you any tricks for easily dropping podcasts onto this type of device?

    I normally download the MP3s off ITConversations or some other site and use iTunes to burn them on CD for the car (I know it’s wasteful but it works). I don’t need to go through so many steps, so if you have a quick trick I’d love to hear it.

  2. Jon — try to find the digital MP3 audio player from “Power Up!” USB2.0 data transfer, MP3/WMA player, USB flash storage, voice recorder, backlit LCD display. I got the 1GB model for nearly-free-after-rebate at Christmastime last year. It is the second Power Up! device that I’ve own (the other is a 256MB model), and I’ve been very happy with both of them: very good battery life, fast transfer, relatively straight forward interface.

  3. “Have you any tricks for easily dropping podcasts onto this type of device?”

    At the moment I keep two different instances of iTunes going, on two different computers. One is for a music collection that I do synch to my iPod, the other is for podcasts that I mainly listen to on the MuVo. In the latter case I just mount the gadget and drag/drop the talks I want to hear.

    It’s an interesting adaptation, actually, which I hadn’t really thought about until now. Clearly it says something about the very different nature of a more-or-less permanent music collection versus transient use of podcasts.

  4. I have this same player for the same reasons and this same complaint of slow transfer speeds :(
    Come christmas I’ll probably give a look to those power up mp3 players. Oddly in my google searching I couldn’t find a website for the company, just online stores that sold their products.
    Also just wanted to contribute that I use “Juice” http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/ right now to download all my podcasts into MyDocuments\MyReceivedPodcasts
    Then I create a folder named 20080701 (for all the podcasts on the year 2008, the 7th month, and the 1st day of the month), and drag and drop all the podcast folders directly into that folder, then inside the folder I move the podcasts or rename them to the order I want them to play in, and then transfer that one folder to the mp3 player while I take a 15 minute break.
    This works awesome for listening to daily podcasts (buzz out loud / adam carolla / rush limbaugh / tech5 / GillmorGang), and I always move the last adam carolla segment to the very last folder so that I know when I hear that, I can delete that entire folder.
    I highly recommend this system instead of trying to use iTunes and playlists, but perhaps I’m just fanatical.
    Darn you creative for making such a great product with such an achilies heal and then offering no recourse!

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