Given that this board has been very helpful to me, as a complete newbie to the Fuze, I want to write up everything I’ve learned through this board to successfully use the Fuze to its fullest. Hopefully it will be useful to someone.
The following is very conservative. My main goal is to have something which works consistently with my current hardware and software, with absolutely no problems. I’ve achieved that for myself. Everything in this post is what I’ve actually tested, and what I currently use.
With all that said, here is my epic initial post on this forum.
In reading up on media players, I decided to go with… the Sansa Fuze! It supports Ogg Vorbis in the newer firmware versions, currently has almost full Rockbox support on the version 1 models, and has a micro SD slot. It will support easy Windows drop-and-drag when in MSC mode.
I pick up an 8GB model off eBay for less than $40, and get ready to dive into tools.
I’m not a power user when it comes to computer ownership, and at this point I’m down to having only an Acer Aspire One netbook, running XP SP3. I’ve had issues in the past with Windows Media Player, and want to avoid it doing something screwy to my preexisting music files, so I’m going to use software which is free, and which won’t try to disallow something based on its idea of DRM (Digital Rights Management).
At this point, I’ve bought a few Fuzes, some in less than stellar condition. The following procedures are my way of trying to be as successful as possible.
I always use a USB port which is on the computer for the Fuze cable. Running through a hub has caused problems in terms of power/charging, as I found in posts from others. The USB ports on my netbook are all connected directly to the motherboard. I do have a hub which has most of my USB devices plugged in (keyboard, mouse, DVD drive and 1TB HD for music and video), so having only one USB cable to plug in for most things is handy… but the Fuze cable gets its own port.
To avoid MTP mode, and to be able to see the Fuze and its additional micro-SD card as drives in XP, I force the Fuze to boot directly into MSC mode when connecting to the USB port. I put the Fuze power switch into the Hold position, with the orange dot visible, and hold down the left arrow button when connecting the cable. Voila! MSC mode! I let the Fuze charge up fully, with no software or file changes. If there is a battery problem and the device won’t hold a charge, I won’t cause a issue when it tries to install a new update but has a powerdive before finishing. While it charges, I’ll see if there if there is anything I might want to copy off the device to keep.
Once the Fuze is fully charged (possibly as long as 3 hours on a fully discharged Fuze), I’ll go the bottom right section of my Windows bar and Safely Remove Hardware, in this case the two-drive combination. (The Fuze shows up as two devices, reflecting internal memory and the micro-SD slot, both on the same line. It doesn’t matter if there is a micro-SD card in the Fuze or not.)
On unplugging the newly charged Fuze, it might display that it is updating something. NEVER EVER INTERRUPT AN UPDATE! There are plenty of threads where folks talk about the update taking a long time, and they do something to turn it off, or to try to escape the update… and then the rest of the thread is about the problems they’ve created themselves, because they couldn’t wait a few mintues. Don’t be that person.
Once the update is complete, sometimes the screen will go black. It might be that a dead battery… or the screen might be set to go black in five seconds. Hopefully the screen lights up with a volume wheel spin. If not, I firmly try the power switch. If it doesn’t turn on, I’ll try the power switch again, holding it on for maybe fifteen to thirty seconds (this causes a hard reboot). If I still get no results, I assume I have a bad battery. This has happened to me, and it’s easier to pick up another secondhand Fuze than to replace the battery. Maybe you’ll find something more encouraging while searching, but I have no reason to doubt what I’ve found so far on this.
If the screen does light up, then I press the small button to the right of the wheel to get to the main menu, and go to Settings=>System Setting=>Backlight. For the next few steps, I will set the backlight to stay on for at least 45 seconds, so I can check some things without the screen turning off.
I’ll also change System Settings=>USB Mode so the default mode is MSC. AutoDetect can be be consistent, and I won’t need MTP mode, so MSC is all I need.
I’ll also go to System Settings =>Info, and see what FW (firmware) version is installed. If it’s a version 1 fuze (with firmware version 01.xx.xx), I’ll install version 01.02.28, the newest and most trouble-free firmware for the v1. If it’s a version 2, I’ll install version 2.02.26, as version 2.02.28 has some… issues.
The version 1.02.28 firmware can be downloaded at http://mp3support.sandisk.com/firmware/fuze/fuze01.02.28.zip . The version 2.02.26 firmware can be downloaded at http://mp3support.sandisk.com/firmware/fuze/fuze02.02.26.zip . I save it to a folder on my computer where I can find it.
If the battery level has dropped to below half in this short time, there might be a battery issue, and I will probably do another full charge, to be sure I won’t run into issues in the middle of an update. If it happens again, with the connected Fuze indicating a full charge and the disconnected Fuze showing less than half a charge, I have battery issues.
Assuming that the battery life is holding, I now connect the Fuze to the USB cable again. I open the zipped file directly on my computer without unzipping, and move the inner file, entitled FuzeA in my case, to the root directory of the Sansa Fuze, alongside all preexisting system files and all the internal Fuze folders. If all I see are some folders, with no system files, I’m in the directory for the micro-SD card, so I make sure I choose the correct drive.
Once the new firmware is in the right place in the Fuze, I again Safely Remove the Hardware, and wait for the update to complete. At completion the Fuze will turn off automatically.
When next I turn the Fuze on, I’m prompted for the language. I choose English and then choose INTERNATIONAL/EUROPE as my region. This will prevent the red SlotRadio icon from showing up on my main menu. I then go to Settings=>Radio options=>FM Region and choose USA. (You can skip this step if you’re planning on using the SlotRadio cards.)
(Incidentally, I once chose the wrong region on this step. I again reloaded FuzeA onto the Fuze’s root directory, and the firmware reloaded itself atop the same version, so I could the correct version of English the next power up. If it happened to me, it might happen to you, so at least you know it can be fixed.)
After much experimentation, here’s what has worked for me in terms of software:
For ripping to Ogg Vorbis, I use Freerip, found at http://www.freerip.com . It’s free, but always asks to upgrade to the full version. I rip to Ogg quality level 6, and when I run it through my home stereo, it’s actually really smooth. (FreeRip connects to the Freerip DB to find album info, and occasionally there are items with inconsistent album, artist or genre labels, but I correct those in the next stage.) I tend to rip my albums into folders, so that I can add or remove whole albums at a time on the Fuze.
For editing my song labels, I use MP3tag, found at http://www.mp3tag.de/en . To make the tags consistent for the Fuze, I go to Tools=>Options=>Tags. In both the “Mpeg” and “Ape, Mpc…” choices, I have all possible tags read, but only write ID3v2 tags; in the “Mpeg” menu I also choose “ID3v2.3 UTF-16” as the format. I set both menus to remove all three tag types. This prevents the Fuze from getting confused due to more than one tag in a file (a source of problems in many posts I’ve read).
MP3tag is useful, as I tend to find errors in what I’ve tagged at the point of ripping. I also might change my mind about which genre something belongs in. Once I have the songs on an album labeled, I rename the songs based on the labels, so that the filename has the artist, album, track name and position on the album. On occasion I’ll transfer a few orphan tracks to a hodgepodge folder on the Fuze, so this allows me to look in there when browsing the device through Windows Explorer view and delete the files I’m not using much. (I prefer to do this instead of using the Delete Track function on the Fuze, due to various threads I’ve read which list problems using the Fuze-based Delete.)
For converting video, I use the amazing Video4Fuze. The link for downloading it are found in this thread:
My microSD card didn’t get a “Video” folder added automatically during formatting on the Fuze. I manually dragged a copy of it over from the main Fuze, using Windows. I’ve not had issues with video running from the card, but much of what I watch is stop-motion animation, so it’s difficult to know if any artifacts are being introduced. I’ll do further testing later, to see if there is any stutter or other differences; I’ll do so by putting files which are identical except in name, in order to compare the same video side by side from card and from internal memory.
There are many ways to get video onto your computer for conversion to the Fuze. In this case, Google is your friend. Listing how to download .flv videos from the internet and such is beyond the scope of this board, so if you’re curious, you should do some searching through Google or another search engine to see how to get video onto your computer, in order to then run it through Video4Fuze. I found the sites, and I’m not the smartest guy in the world. If you really want the information, it’s available, I swear. You’re even ahead of where I started, because I didn’t even know what .flv video was, let alone what it was called!
When I drag music and videos to the Fuze, I make sure to move it to the correct folders, named (in this case) Music and Videos. I generally maintain folders on my computer and the external USB HD. 2TB is fairly cheap at this point, so do yourself a favor and pick one up, so you have enough space to do what you want in terms of media. I have copies of different musical folders for the Fuze, so I can rapidly move things on and off, depending on who is using that particular Fuze at the moment, or for different moods (dinner party, road trip, feeling sick and needing to drowse, etc.).
Since I’m working with folders, when I want to add album art, I find a jpeg file (with the extension of .jpg) through the Image search of Google. I save it to the folder containing the album, naming the picture as “folder” and saving it as type “.jpg”. This way, it shows up on my Fuze when I’m playing a track from the album. It doesn’t show up in Album View while browsing, but I normally don’t need to see a thumbnail of the album jacket to remember what it looks like. The file named “folder” must be in the album’s folder! I will do this on the computer, and then drag the folder across.
I could also add album art to each track. The maximum displayed size is 120x120. In MP3tag, I would select the track(s) to which I want to ebed the art in the tags, and then right-click on the blank image section at the bottom of the left pane. I can then browse to and click on the pre-saved .jpg file, and hit “Save Tags.” I don’t find any great advantage to this, since I’m working in folders, but if you want to have your soundfiles just tossed into the “Music” folder with no subfolders, this will work while playing the files. Unfortunately, even when =>Settings=>System Setting=>Display Album Art in Lists is set to “On” on the Fuze, I only get a little filmstrip icon in the list, instead of the album art, so there’s no advantage with embedded art while browsing.
A few notes…
In order to construct a playlist which uses music on both the internal memory and the micro-SD card, I use the Playlist option of Video4Fuze. This will create a .pla playlist, which can use songs from both kinds of memory.
When I do a lot of changes to the contents of the Fuze’s memory, I will copy the whole thing off, and then reformat the Fuze before copying them back on. That way, I know that files will be in consecutive order in memory and on the card, instead of having fragmentation. I’ve followed this method on devices which sometimes had issues on this, like my Palm IIIxe, and since starting to follow this procedure, I’ve had no memory issues.
I’ve had to be organised regarding where my files are. For example, I have a folder named “Video Pre-Fuze Conversion,” where I put interesting things that I want to load onto the Fuze. I have another folder entitled “Video - Fuze Ready.” I make sure to direct the output of the conversion program to the correct folder, so I know I can find it, instead of having to do a long search. I just mention this because I know you want to learn from my mistakes.
(For the curious who have been reading other sections of this board, I’ve not run into the video fast forwarding problems while using 1.02.28 on the version 1 Fuze, but I have had issues with 2.02.26 on the version 2. My work around is to not just push the fast forward button, but instead to press it repeatedly, jumping forward 30 seconds with each push. Not a perfect solution, and I don’t have Replay Gain, but the version 2 is still a great player.)
At this point, I have everything I need, but still have a few things I want. I’ll be exploring adding photos to the Fuze, so I can easily carry small snapshots. I’ll add easy photo handling once I get it down.
I ordered my first Fuze just over a month ago, and have found it so easy to use that I’ve picked up several others on the cheap for the whole family. The one thing I’d really like is gapless play, as my SO is a massage therapist, and sometimes wants to put on some albums by Andreas Vollenweider when amplifying the Fuze in the massage room. I’ll probably be doing some experimenting with the beta version of Rockbox on one of the version 1 Fuzes, but that also is beyond the scope of a simple-to-implement guide such as this one. I’m not counting on there being a version of Rockbox for the version 2 Fuze.
Again, everything I’ve listed is only what I’ve found to work for me. I’ve included version numbers where appropriate, because many of the threads I’ve read have someone griping about problems they’re having, and they assume that everyone is on the same page/version. If your computer set up is different from mine, it might not work. I only have access to my own machine and my own Fuzes. I can’t provide troubleshooting as to why you can’t make this work. ASKING ME WHY IT’S NOT WORKING ON YOUR SYSTEM WILL NOT GET YOU AN ANSWER! SORRY!
Also, if you want more information regarding any of the things I’ve mentioned, USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION. For goodness’ sake, everything I just laid out came from my doing searches. If I can find it, you can find it. If you’re too lazy to look, then why should someone else invest the time that you won’t?
If you don’t like the way I’ve resolved things for myself, that’s fair. You’re entitled to feel that the Fuze should handle album art different, or to have a different solution because you’re using .MP3s instead of Ogg Vorbis. However, that has nothing to do with this thread, so you’ll probably have more success posting about it in a thread more relevant to your situation than this one. THIS THREAD IS PURELY ABOUT WHAT I FOUND TO WORK FOR MY SITUATION.
One last tidbit: I use SanDisk 16GB microSD cards for the moment. However, as a reward to those who have just waded through all this, I’ll comment that I have high hopes that the Netcom 32GB micro-SD card will actually become available soon. It was announced on 9Dec09, so let’s hope it is more rapid in coming to market than the SanDisk 32GB micro-SD. If you want details, use your search engine, and you’ll find the same information I did.
My thanks to those on this board who made it easy for me to find tools to test, and whose writings made it possible for me to lay this out so plainly for others. I hope this information is helpful. (Who knows? It might even get stickied…!)
Message Edited by Nubilee on 12-26-2009 03:33 PM