After eyeing the Sansa Express digital audio MP3 player for more than a year, I finally bought the 2GB one. I just had to have expandable storage and subscription music support, and the OLED for daytime use sealed the deal. I’ve had it for four days and only just got to try a few things with it.
The first thing I tried was to load up some high-quality 24bit WAV files mastered from audio production applications (Reason), but I quickly discovered that they stutter/slow down after display goes blank from inactivity (adjustable between 3-seconds to 3-minutes in settings). This is intolerable because, at best, it requires me to press a button more than once every three minutes and sacrifice battery life to circumvent it. I expected that it would be fixed in a firmware update due to advertised WAV playback. This was later re-enforced when I discovered that it applied to all waveform audio (WAV) playback, though the player died fully before I could get it to successfully play a WAV file from a standard CD.
After encountering that problem, I updated the player using Sansa Updater. Progress in main window stopped at 50% while a pop-up dialog with its own progress indicator said that the update “successfully completed.” I was unable to close the main window as the application caused Explorer to stop responding. Even the Task Manager could not kill the Explorer process until I terminated the “Sansa Updater” process. I was then able to use the Task Manager to re-launch Explorer to restore functionality to Windows.
After this ordeal, the settings inside the player reported the updated firmware version, leading me to believe that it was successful as reported by the dialog that did not crash. Even so, I found that WAV playback did not improve. I had not yet loaded nor attempted to playback a standard WAV file ripped from an audio CD.
I then synchronized a new WAV file ripped from a retail CD. When selected for playback, the track would not play; one of the original WAV files I had synced would play instead. Selecting the track for playback a second time results in the track never starting and locking up with the pause indicator displayed (no “Play” indicator shown).
I then attempted to load an audio file with an alternate method as depicted in the User’s Guide, but the “Media folder” it mentions is not seen on the device in MTP mode (the “only” mode the device supports according to the device’s forum). I determined that “Media” was simply referring to the type of folders containing media and not a folder name, so I replaced a converted file with the source (uncompressed) file in an attempt to get the player to play it.
After this, the device only displayed half a SanDisk logo after being unplugged/booted. After a hard reset, the device would always lockup again displaying either a whole SanDisk logo (happened once) or half of one (happened many times). When plugging back into the PC, the device would lock up and report an error in the Windows Device Manager.
Updating the device again would cause it to reconnect and Windows would report a High-Speed USB 2.0 device in low-speed port, despite both being USB 2.0. Even so, the update process would continue and report that the player needs to be formatted. Formatting would fail at around 50%. When the failure message is dismissed, the dialog window displays a message indicating that the player was updated with the latest firmware.
After this update/failed format, unplugging the device and booting causes it to display “rebuilding database” repeatedly with a portion of the battery indicator on the wrong side of the display (upper-left hand side; left side of indicator was missing/off the screen). I have to do a hard reset to keep it from running dead. Plugging it into a PC to charge will result in it connecting and disconnecting repeatedly.
Please advise me on what to do next.
Despite searching for “WAV Express” with no results on the Sansa forums before even the first firmware update gone awry, I then manually found reports from others in the Sansa Express sub-forum that this is a problem with all Sansa Express players with all WAV files and even affects FM recordings (FM playback during recording). If so, this should be noted in a “known errata” section “stickied” at the top of the forum so that others will not needlessly update the firmware and encounter problems like these. Instead, I find that there are not even any change logs for firmware updates! Furthermore, I read many indications that Sansa is ending firmware updates for this player. If this is true and Sansa is truly ending firmware updates without restoring a functional WAV playback feature as advertised, then there simply must be a replacement program in place.
It looks like this player is useless no matter what my intentions. I could fill it up with WAV files and have a problem playing them, or I could fill it up with lossy music and have trouble when I hit 1,000 songs. The 1,000 song limit and the lack of advertised WAV support are VERY concerning. Why support SDHC if you can’t support the amount of songs that will allow? Even my $20 4GB card allows me to hold more full-length songs than that EASILY. Why continue to advertise WAV support if you have no intention of fixing it? If there are no more firmware updates to give it the advertised functionality, then you have an obligation to refund EVERY customer regardless of waranty or else you risk a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all customers.