Long time Sansa owner and advocate. I totally understand the idea of the Fuze+ with the touch controls, but frankly guys, it’s not working out.
Even with firmware tweaks, I’m pretty sure the lack of tactile controls are going to doom this device.
I even had to go back to an original Fuze with Rockbox on it so that I can access all my music (Fuze database is too small).
Most of the improvements you made to the Fuze + are welcome and include:
Micro USB cable (no proprietary cable required)
Fast USB transfers and Rhapsody Transfers and support
Flashy new UI with modern look and feel
Better video handling (native codecs supported)
Larger LCD screen
Increased Battery Life
Larger DB size.
Wide range codec support (MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG, etc…)
However, some things are really poor
Long Boot time
Laggy UI when fully loaded
Lack of wrap around menu’s
Unintuitive and non tactile touch controls.
The last one is a biggy because it renders use of the player in low light nearly useless.
Since the Fuze+ is about ready for a hardware refresh, I suggest the following:
Ditch the touch controls and bring back the original Fuze scroll wheel. Easy to operate, great feel, very intuitve. Let Apple users smudge and scratch their screens with their fingerprints.
Update the processor in the unit so it can handle large Databases effectively.
Check out the Rockbox team. They have some how made DB refresh quite quick even with a nearly fully loaded 32GB card. Rockbox is open source so I’m sure you can get some ideas on better DB refresh and initialization.
Better yet, fully support the Rockbox initiative and play into their strengths. You guys don’t get money writing software. You sell memory and MP3 players. Currently Rockbox users are relegated to finding old “abandoned” or “end of life” players because the player is usually retired once the team is able to fully reverse engineer the product.
I know you guys have trade secrets and all, but seriously. Linux shows the power of open source (rockbox is not Linux, but is open source). Let Microsoft and Apple keep their closed architecture. If you fully supported Rockbox and gave them pre-production units, there’s a good chance that you could have players that are Rockbox capable while sales on the units are strong. That in turn would sell more units with greater profit margin.
There are some folks who don’t like Rockbox, that’s fine. A clean no-nonsense UI should come standard with the player. But giving customers a choice is never a bad thing. I can only imagine how much money you are leaving on the table when you only realize a late spike in sales of refurbished or deeply discounted units because it takes the Rockbox team 2 or more years to develop for your platform.
Fuze V1’s and V2’s are a hot ticket now because Rockbox is stable on them. I’ve bought two recently myself, and that’s after buying a Fuze+. It’s pretty sad that my 4GB and 8GB Fuze cost less than my Fuze+.
Sandisk has traditionally excelled providing customers with a lot of “bang” for their buck. While I appreciate what you tried to do with the Fuze+ you really missed the mark.
On the Clip+ you kept what was good about the Clip and made it better. Here’s hoping you do the same with the next generation of Fuze, be it a V2 model or a ++ model.