Do the firmware update first. If you are buying a refurbished unit, they usually take a return, update the firmware, format it and consider it usable. If it has a intermittent problem, they don’t catch it.
Yes, do the formatting first. My first one (brand new from Circuit City) wouldn’t sync until I formatted it. It’s also a good idea to go through Part A: Prepare the Player and Windows Media Player on my web page for playlists:
The step to “Clear History” and “Clear Caches” tells the PC to forget everything it knew about your player, so it starts out fresh. My first one had two devices showing in Windows Explorer even when it wasn’t plugged in. This fixed it.
The m200 series was designed when XP and WMP 10 were out. It was designed to work only with Windows XP and WMP 10. When Vista and WMP 11 came out, Sansa discontinued the m200 and came out with the Fuze. MSC mode is for people using other than Windows XP. With it you can use the device as a flash drive. Also in MSC mode you can drag and drop music files to the device and listen to them, no playlist support.
MTP mode (Music Transfer Protocol) must be used to sync from Windows Media Player. It must be used for playlists. Also shuffle doesn’t work, it’s really random. A record of what is played in shuffle mode isn’t saved after a power off. If you want true shuffle on the m200, use playlists and shuffle them with WMP before you sync. It works great.
I rip my music into MP3 because I have songs that were ripped several years ago and I’m too lazy to change. Seriously, WMF is W indows M edia F ile format. It is owned by Microsoft and as such, not a universal format like MP3. I usually use Nero to rip, but sometimes use WMP.
The reason they say “Capacity reduced after format” is formatting doesn’t recover the full 2 gig of memory card. Some of it is reserved for the firmware and necessary system files (Audio Book programs).
If you drag and drop, the songs play in a different order depending on what you select from the menu. You will need to tag the songs with Artist Name, Album Name, etc. You can do this from Windows Explorer by right clicking on the file, then select Properties , Summary , Advanced. You can also use the Tag Editor built into WMP. It works differently in WMP 10 and 11. I recommend using a product like MP3tag. It’s free and works great.
If you don’t have any tags at all, the m200 will play the songs alphabetically by filename, or shuffle.
Don’t let the battery run too low, don’t fill too near capacity (leave workspace), format often and expect an occasionaly hangup. All in all, for the price it’s a great player.