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A MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice

SanDisk Digital Audio Players for Linux, Mac, and Windows Make Nice Gifts

"With all its different functions, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player amounts to a high-tech, Swiss army, pocketknife"

The 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player is a Santa's pick

Mike Angelo -- 23 December 2004 (C)

Related Article

The SanDisk 512-MB SD Card and Ultra II Card Reader for Linux, Mac, and Windows

Of Linux and Windows

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Flash Memory Drive Note

The SanDisk Digital Audio Player is not really a hard drive. It's not a disk drive of any sort. It has no mechanical parts to break. Rather it is electronic memory -- flash memory. However, over time flash memory can wear out, electro-chemically.

Unlike DRAM (as used in RAM memory), flash memory does not get lost when the electricity to it is turned off -- thus flash memory is non-volatile. It is that non-volatile aspect of flash memory that lets it mimic a hard drive.

The electronics built into the SanDisk Digital Audio Player make it appear as a removable hard drive to the computer operating system. It's pretty slick. You get the reliability, speed, and compactness of electronic memory and the non-volatile aspect of electro-mechanical hard drives.

Pogo Altura64 Workstation

The Pogo Altura64 workstation is an excellent PC. It uses the AMD Athlon64 processor, a 64-bit CPU. Our Altura64 has an AMD Athlon64 3000+ microprocessor, ASUS K8V SE Deluxe motherboard, 512-MB RAM, Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 video adapter, 120-GB Western Digital serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, Teac CD-RW/DVD drive, and more.

If you are looking for a top quality computer for yourself, or for a Christmas or holiday gift, the Pogo Altura64 is an excellent choice.

In the practical, handy, and useful gift category consider giving a SanDisk Digital Audio Player. It gives lots of bang for the bucks. The SanDisk Digital Audio Player plays MPEGs and other digital music files, it doubles as a voice recorder, and it has a built-in FM stereo radio too.

The Digital Audio Player also is what amounts to a USB removable disk drive. Moreover, all that functionality is wrapped into a package about the size of a roll of quarters -- small enough to fit inside a shirt pocket or a closed hand. Please see Figure 1, below.

The SanDisk Digital Audio Player uses flash memory to store digital music files such as MP3, WMA, and WMA DRM files. It comes in three memory capacity sizes: 256-MB ($90), 512-MB ($150), and 1-GB ($200). We tested the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player -- and we are impressed.

Flash Memory Removable Drive

Plug the SanDisk Digital Audio Player into the USB port of your PC. Voila, your personal computer sees the SanDisk Digital Audio Player as a removable disk drive with directories (folders) and files (Figure 2, below). That means you can drag music files, and all sorts of files for that matter, from your PC to the SanDisk Digital Audio Player -- or vice verse.

You also can use your PC to create directories (folders) in the SanDisk Digital Audio Player's flash memory. And not only can you drag or copy files from your PC to the SanDisk Digital Audio Player, but you can drag or copy an entire directory, including subdirectories, back and forth between your computer and the SanDisk Digital Audio Player -- in a simple drag or copy operation.

In testing the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player we dragged MP3 files amounting to about seven LP albums from our Pogo Linux test box to the SanDisk Digital Audio Player. Those MP3 music files took only about 225-MB of the SanDisk Digital Audio Player's 512-MB of flash memory. That left about 275-MB of free space in the SanDisk Digital Audio Player's flash memory to record chit-chat and carry lots of data files around too.

Multi-Media PC in a Pocket

Thus, you can use a SanDisk Digital Audio Player to carry both your music files and your data files around with you. Simply keep all your word-processor, spreadsheet, personal information (PIM), bookmark, and other such files, plus your music files, on a SanDisk Digital Audio Player rather than a system, fixed, hard drive.

[Of course it would be wise to keep back-up copies of your files on a fixed system hard drive.]

Then whether you are at home, school, work, or wherever, simply plug your data SanDisk Digital Audio Player into the closest computer's USB port. Voila, you are all set to get to work writing reports, crunching numbers, doing correspondence, and so forth -- wherever you have access to a USB-equipped computer.

Don't forget you also have your music files on the SanDisk Digital Audio Player. That means that while you have the SanDisk Digital Audio Player plugged into a computer so that you can work with your data files, you also can play your music files through the computer's own sound system.

When you are finished working with your data files, simply slip the SanDisk Digital Audio Player back in your pocket, purse, or briefcase and off you go. Or just strap the SanDisk Digital Audio Player on your arm, affix the ear-speakers to your ears, and turn on the music. That makes the SanDisk Digital Audio Player an office in a pocket plus a go-anywhere, digital audio player, stereo FM radio, and digital voice recorder.

Figure 1. The SanDisk Digital Audio Player is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It's about three inches long. If the SanDisk Digital Audio Player above measures about three-inches long for you, then you are looking at an actual-size photo of it.

The 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player capacity is sufficient to put a mix of office-work files, music files, and even some photo files on it. For example, the entire remaining 275-MB of free, flash memory remaining was more than ample for the load of data files. So keeping with the Christmas spirit, five albums worth of Christmas songs and music was downloaded from a Hewlett Packard (HP) OmniBook 6000 laptop running Mandrake Linux 10.1 to the SanDisk Digital Audio Player.

The Christmas music was placed in its own directory on the SanDisk Digital Audio Player. Please see Figure 2, below.

The music downloaded earlier from the Pogo Linux Altura64 Workstation to the SanDisk Digital Audio Player is about seven albums, George Sheering albums from this writer's Jazz collection, in their own directory. That way, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player menuing, navigation, and selection features can be used to play either Christmas music or Jazz. Then after Christmas the Christmas music easily can be deleted by removing the entire Christmas music directory with just a mouse click or two and replaced with other music -- more Jazz for this writer.

In effect, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player amounts to a PC and a stereo sound system in a pocket. That's because you can carry all your most used, if not all your, files around with you in a pocket-sized SanDisk Digital Audio Player. And you can have plenty of music on it too.

Figure 2. The SanDisk Digital Audio Player makes itself look like a standard, (USB) removable hard drive to your computer's operating system. In the Konqueror file manager shown in this screenshot, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player shows up as a removable disk drive in this screenshoot.

Personal Music Player

On one hand, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player makes a very handy removable drive. But on the other hand, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player is first and foremost a battery powered, stand alone, digital music player. And a darn good one at that.

Earphones Note:

The mini-speaker earphones that come with the SanDisk Digital Audio Player do not have any sort of clip or anything to affix them to ears. They just hang in the ears.

The problem for me is they do not stay in my ears. They keep falling off when I move around.

The ear-speakers on the Digital Audio Player sound great when they are making the right sort of contact with the ear -- really nice bass response. But without some sort of hanger or clip they do not stay nicely coupled with the outer auditory meatus -- at least for me they do not.

I have to put some sort of headband on that goes over my ears to keep the mini-speakers in place and well-coupled to each outer auditory meatus. With the headband holding the mini-speaker earphones in place, the earphones do not fall off and there is good acoustic coupling between the earphone speakers and the ears.

M.A.

Figure 3. Apple earbuds.
Linux Compatibility Note:

We did try the SanDisk Digital Audio Player with a newly released version of another Linux distribution that we are testing at this time. It did not work there.

Because we still are testing that distro and because we have not yet had the time to determine definitively why the SanDisk Digital Audio Player does not work in that setup, we are not mentioning the Linux distro involved.

The important point here is that the SanDisk Digital Audio Player might work well with some Linux distributions and might not work at all with other distributions.

You can plug earphones into the SanDisk Digital Audio Player so that you can listen to music anywhere and anyplace. You also, can plug powered computer speakers directly into the earphone jack on the SanDisk Digital Audio Player.

The SanDisk Digital Audio Player comes with stereo earphones -- the type of earphones that are little, mini loudspeakers rather than earplugs. (Apple calls them earbuds. Please see Figure 3 in the right sidebar, below.) These loudspeaker earphones sound great if you get a good acoustic coupling between the mini-speakers and your ears (outer auditory meatus).

The SanDisk Digital Audio Player also comes with a carrying case and armband. Thus if you want to move or walk around with your SanDisk Digital Audio Player, all you have to do is turn it on, strap it to your upper arm, and affix the speaker phones to your ears.

FM Radio

If you want to grab the latest news, weather, or sports scores or just listen to some different music for a change, simply put your SanDisk Digital Audio Player in FM stereo mode.

Voice Recorder

The SanDisk Digital Audio Player's voice recording mode is great for dictation. Use it to dictate notes, reports, or even an entire book. Please note this voice recording feature is for close-to-the-microphone use as in dictation. It's not for recording group discussions, lectures, or any of that sort of thing.

With all its different functions, the SanDisk Digital Audio Player amounts to a high-tech Swiss army knife.

SanDisk Digital Audio Players -- Compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows

Officially, SanDisk lists its Digital Audio Players for use with the Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP, Mac OS 9.2.x+, and Mac OS 10.1.2+ operating systems (OSs). However, in our tests the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player runs with the GNU-Linux OS too.

Linux-wise, we tested the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player with Mandrake Linux 10.0 Official on a Pogo Linux Altura64 desktop and with Mandrake Linux 10.1 Official on a HP OmniBook 6000 laptop. The 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player worked with both systems.

However, please keep in mind that we have not tested the SanDisk Digital Audio Player on other versions of Mandrake Linux nor on most other Linux distributions. SanDisk does not list its Digital Audio Player as compatible with Linux. Thus there is no guarantee that the SanDisk Digital Audio Player will work on any Linux-based systems.

If you want to use the SanDisk Digital Audio Player with a Windows 98SE system, you will have to install drivers for the SanDisk Digital Audio Player. The Windows 98SE drivers for the SanDisk Digital Audio Player are available on the software CD that comes with the Digital Audio Player. We did test the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player on a Windows 98SE box too. It worked well there.

The Microsoft Windows 98 SE test machine is a desktop box with 750-MHz AMD Duron CPU, Iwill KV200-R motherboard (VIA KT133 chipset) with integrated audio, 384-MB of PC-133 RAM, 160-GB Maxtor D536X hard drive, and 3D-Labs Oxygen XV1 video card in an Antec ATX case. (Article author, Mike Angelo, built this machine.)

The reason the SanDisk Digital Audio Player works on all three major OSs, Linux, Mac, and Windows, is interesting. SanDisk has configured its Digital Audio Players to identify themselves to the operating systems as USB removable hard drives. That makes SanDisk Digital Audio Players pretty much OS independent. It also means that you can use a SanDisk Digital Audio Player to transfer files across platforms -- Mac to Windows, Windows to Linux, and so forth.

SanDisk Digital Audio Players Are Great Gifts

A SanDisk Digital Audio Player makes a great gift anytime. At this time of the year, a SanDisk Digital Audio Player makes a great under-the-tree gift. The 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player is a Santa's pick.

512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player earns a MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice Award

Because the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player is so versatile and feature rich, works well, and works with Linux, it provides a particularly notable bang for the buck. Thus, the 512-MB SanDisk Digital Audio Player gets a MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice Award.

Happy Holidays

Mike Angelo

Resources

  • More Christmas, Gift, and Holiday Articles

Christmas Season Holidays & Computer Suggestions 2002:


Free Software for Your New Computer -- Or Any Computer

Linux Gifts for Christmas, Holiday, and All Occasions

Under $30 Stocking Stuffer for Linux, Mac, and Windows -- The Lexar USB JumpDrive


  • Other Related and Interesting Articles



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