An all-in-one converter would turn out to be something like Windows Media Player, iTunes, Media Monkey, Winamp or Rhapsody. SanDisk decided instead to work with existing programs, WMP and Rhapsody (while independent developers, like Media Monkey and Winamp, have ported to the Sansa). A good thing, too–that lets SanDisk programmers concentrate on the firmware. They’ve certainly got enough bugs of their own to fix.
All those programs try to make themselves the default player when you install them and grab all your music, sometimes tying up soundcard drivers too. They also use up memory and resources as they run. What the world of mp3 players needs is a third-party program that works well with all mp3 players, as Winamp and Media Monkey attempt to do–not another branded program made only for Sansa that would fight with other music players in the computer. Suppose someone in the family has a Sansa and someone else has a Sony mp3 player or a dopI player. Whose program would run the music library?
I hate, and try not to use, Windows Media Player, but SanDisk obviously chose to connect with it because it’s in everyone’s Windows computer already and probably familiar to most people. The album-art glitch is WMP’s mess, not SanDisk’s. And there’s always MSC mode, with no sneaky automated stuff going on behind your back. I’d never buy an mp3 player that only had MTP.
Mp3s don’t need converting, by the way.
I mostly rip my CDs with iTunes, for the best available online tagging and album art, even though iTunes’ mp3 converter isn’t quite as good as LAME. Then I change the tag version to ID3v2.3 ISO-8859-1 with mp3tag (although the ID3v2.2 tags from iTunes usually work) and drag the folders over by MSC. No album-art problems.
I don’t love iTunes, which is a real resource hog and, typically for Apple, fights every attempt to customize it. I’m using an older version of iTunes that doesn’t have the bloated “Genius” part, and every iTunes “upgrade” tries to take over more of your computer, like its Bonjour networking that screwed up my wireless for a while. But the tagging, from Gracenote CDDB, is quite good.
Eventually I’ll probably switch to another ripping program if I can find a good one that connects to the CDDB database. But there are lots of ways to skin this cat. SanDisk doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.