Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Real Nano Deal

This is my second Zen Nano Review.

Zen Nano: PriceGrabber

I recently received my Zen Nano Plus, and I must say, I'm pretty impressed with it. This thing is smaller than a cigarette lighter, and it runs on just one AAA battery. It comes with a wristband, which I will probably never use, a line in cord, a usb cord, a protective cover with a clip, and a pair of ear plugs.

There are three plugs on the player, one for the usb cable, one for a pair of headphones, and one for the line-in cord. The only thing I dislike about the player are the earplugs. They hurt. So, I've been substituting a pair of normal headphones.

As stated in a previous post, it has an fm radio and a built-in microphone. I was able to record directly from the radio, as well as speak right into it like a regular voice recorder. I was also able to use the line in cord to record a track direct from my portable cd player, although I doubt if I'll ever use this feature again in the future, since I prefer to rip high quality tracks to my computer for safe keeping, and unfortunately, this thing only rips between 96 and 160.

I can't really tell you about the software that comes with it. I read several reviews before I bought it, and most of them told me to avoid the software, so I did. And you really don't need it. All you really need to do is connect the player to your computer via the usb cable, and your computer should recognize it as a removable drive. From there, I was able to copy folders from my computer straight to the player.

Make sure to create folders in the player, because the player doesn't read playlists. Instead, it reads files alphabetically or numerically. I was able to use the skip folder feature on the player, moving between folders. Each folder was made up of individual albums, except maybe two - one being used to store a few individual tracks, and another used to place my podcasts into. The player also creates a folder automatically for recorded tracks.

The navigation is done by a scroller, a little wheel, similar to a volume wheel you might find on a cd player. The only difference is that this wheel is smaller, and you can press it. To move between menu options, the wheel, or scroller, must be moved forward or backward. To select a menu item, you must click on the scroller after you reach the specific item.

To play music, a song must be selected, and the small play/pause button, which is on the front of the player, must be clicked. To move between songs, the scroller can moved forward or backward. To fast forward and rewind, the scroller must be moved forward or backward also, although this time, you must hold the scroller in place in either direction. To turn up the volume on the player, there are two buttons next to the scroller for this.

It took a little time to get used to the whole set-up, but when I finally learned how to use most of the features, I found myself enjoying this little thing, using it for hours on end. And for the price of $65, I view this as a pretty sweet deal.

By the way, I was able to store at least nine albums on here, where most of the material was encoded between 192, and 320. Think of it this way. Most cds that are encoded at 192 are about 80 to 100 megabytes. Most cds encoded around 256 or 320, range between 120 and 130. Most vbr material usually take up between 60 and 80 megabytes. And most 128 material range between 50 and 70. Songs encoded at 128 are usually a minute a megabyte. So, a five minute song is usually five megabytes. 20 songs that run about 5 minutes long equal 100 megabytes, by non-scientific standards. That means 100 songs equal 500 megabytes, and 200 songs equal a gigabyte.

I don't know how Creative got their 500 song estimate. I'm assuming most of the mp3s would have to be encoded at around 80 or some other crap quality like that. And I doubt if most people encode at those crappy rates, so my estimate at 200 songs might be closer to how many songs you'll be able to hold on this thing.

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