Sansa Clip+. First thoughts.

I give up.

I bought a Sansa Clip+ three days ago, and am ready to shoot it.


Quick disclaimer: I am a software developer with 18 years of experience.  I have owned numerous mp3

players over the years, including a Creative Zen, iPod & iPod Touch, and have used these with a variety 

of PCs/Macs over the years, with various syncing software.  None has been as unfriendly (or as unfinished?)

as the Clip+'s software.


I have a collection of 200+ “Teach yourself French” mp3s, which I wanted to be able to carry 

around easily, but the lessons must (obviously) be played in a particular order, so Playlists are very

important to me.



Before buying the Clip+, I went onto SanDisk’s website, downloaded and read the instructions.  I also

read the reviews on Amazon, and based on the glowing reviews, I bought an 8Gb Clip+.


I got it home, ran Windows Media Player 11, said that, yes, I would like to automatically sync 

my Clip+ with WMP11.  I selected a few Playlists, and dragged them to the Clip+ device.  Clicked on the 

Sync button, and, wonderful, WMP happily showed it syncing, file-by-file, playlist-by-playlist.


Afterwards, it showed that the Clip+ has just 5Gb free, rather than 7.3Gb, and I could use Explorer, 

browse the device, and view my freshly synced mp3 files, sitting there on my Clip+.  But the device 

didn’t actually show any Playlists.

The only visible playlist was the default “goList” playlist.   I spent ages trying to get the other PlayLists

showing, but failed miserably.  The files were there, I could view the individual files on the device, but 

it refused to show the playlists.


So, I thought perhaps I’d need to upgrade the firmware.

However, each time I’ve tried this (on two different XP machines), the SansaUpdater reports "Service 

update is not available".


Even worse, this morning I connected my Clip+ to my laptop, but it didn’t show up (as a removable drive)

in Explorer.  However, Task Manager showed a SansaUpdater.exe process running in the background

(but not shown anywhere on the taskbar or on the screen), and using up 50% of my CPU.   Googling

this problem, it looks like I’m not alone with this issue. 


Eventually, I manually stopped the process in Task Manager (after patiently waiting 10 minutes for it 

to finish, or at least reduce it’s CPU useage), then re-connected my Clip+.  Then, SansaUpdate ran

again, but this time on the screen, with the ill-thought-out slotRadio advert playing.


Once the video finished running, it went back to showing the helpful “Update Service is not Available” 

message.



Ah, but now that the S__ansaUpdater.exe process isn’t running, my Clip+ player is being shown in Explorer.

So it looks like SansaUpdater.exe was actually preventing the Clip+ from being recognised.  Genius.



And yes, I have since realised that I can ignore SanDisk’s badly-written firmware-updating software, 

and just update the firmware by drag’n’dropping the files from one of their .zip files.  Assuming 

the device is recognised, and that “SansaUpdater.exe” isn’t preventing it from being recognised, 

of course.

Clip+ Firmware: http://www.actaeonlf.com/sandisk/Clip01.01.17.zip



Btw, after Googling this problem, I’ve followed suggestions from other users, I’ve gone into the 

registry, and removed the “SansaDispatch” value from the “Run at startup” registry key, to prevent 

this badly-written CPU-hogging software from running at startup.  (Strange… I don’t remember giving 

this software permission to run at startup…)

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run



More research later, I found that the Clip+ doesn’t work properly with WMP11, unless you set the 

USB mode to “MTP”:

http://kb.sandisk.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6

http://kb.sandisk.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/207/session/L2F2LzEvc2lkL2tnQ2tzbzJr


Why the heck don’t the instructions tell us this in the WMP section of the user guide ?!  Why is this

essential information “buried” in the forums ?



What really winds me up is that I READ the User Guide before buying this device.  I followed the 

instructions (which come complete with easy-to-use screenshots), but it doesn’t work.  As far as I 

can see, no one will be able to get the Clip+ working properly with WMP11 playlists without wasting 

time searching through the (often quite technical) SanDisk forum articles first.


http://forums.sandisk.com/sansa/board/message?board.id=clipplus&thread.id=893


Oh, when you first use your Clip+, or you restore to factory settings, it sets the USB mode

as “MSC”, so by default, the Clip+ isn’t setup to work properly with WMP11.  



I made this purchase on the large number of very positive reviews on Amazon.co.uk.  I plan to

post my own review, describing SanDisk’s poor documentation and firmware-updating software, in

the next few days.  


If any SanDisk employees would like to justify why I’ve had to waste so much time getting this

mp3 player up and going, I’d love to hear from them.


I’m also confused about this whole “MSC” USB mode.  So, if you haven’t got this USB mode

turned on, WMP can correctly sync the mp3 files to a device, but can’t create the Playlists ?

Is this true ?   


Apparently, “MSC” mode only works for MP3 files and WMA files without DRM copy protection",

and you need to use “MTP” if your files DO have copy protection.

http://www.zolved.com/synapse/view_content/6125/Understanding_the_two_USB_modes_--MSC_and_MTP–_on_Sandisk


Problem is, none of my mp3 files have any copy-protection on them.  And it doesn’t explain why the 

mp3 files get synchronised (and can be played), but the PlayList details don’t…


 

I thought Windows Media Player 11 is supposed to simplify the whole syncing process…? 

 


Message Edited by UncleMikeUk on 06-14-2010 04:50 AM

While updating firmware is usually a good idea, it’s unlikely to be related to the problem you describe.

I would format the unit, set the usb mode to MSC and leave it there. MTP mode, which is the default, is only really needed for handling protected music and I assume it might be a little easier for the less technically inclined.

Use windows explorer to set up albums within the music folder. Use something like mp3tag to tag your .mp3 tracks with an album name and fill on the track# tag field for the order in which you want to play within an album. This applies to the older clip and to the clip+ in normal mode. The clip+ has an added feature where you can select using folder view, otherwise the clip will display using data stored in tag fields.

For playlists (for which I have little use), I have used winamp. Make sure you make you selections and build the playlists directly from the clip to avoid having to edit the playlists which is easy to do with any text editor. Store the playlists in the music folder. I have only ever used one level within the music folder but others do use subfolders.

As far as updating firmware, I believe I let the Sansa updater do it without a problem, but there are instructions for this and many people simply download the appropriate file and stick it in the root of the device. Installation is automatic after the unit is powered up. Some folders will be created including the music folder. 

Yes, the manual could and should be more thorough; and yes, there are some original issues to get over and understand.  But why not just make your lide easier, and enjoy the player without more hassle?

1.  Your post should be in the Clip+ board, not the Clip board …

2.  Skip the Firmware Updater; just do it manually (and save your system resources, with the Updater being “always on” and consuming memory)–as you saw, it’s easy and simple to do.  As a programmer, you shouldn’t have any issue with that.

3.  Set the player to MSC mode–it often eliminates non-detect issue.  Really, MTP mode is only needed for DRM-protected files.

4.  Note that if you update the firmware, the player gets sets to Auto for the USB mode.  Just reset it to MSC.

5.  In my humble opinion, forget WMP and syncing–drag-and-drop is king …  (Having said that, I don’t do playlists.  Check for advice on others, such as the above, for that.)

Yes, the manual could and should be more thorough; and yes, there are some original issues to get over and understand.  But why not just make your life easier, and enjoy the player without more hassle?

1.  Your post should be in the Clip+ board, not the Clip board …

2.  Skip the Firmware Updater; just update the firmware manually (and save your system resources, with the Updater being “always on” and consuming memory)–as you saw, it’s easy and simple to do.  As a developer, you shouldn’t have any issue with that.

3.  Set the player to MSC mode–it often eliminates computer-player non-detect and similar issues.  Really, MTP mode is only needed for DRM-protected files and subscription services.

4.  Note that if you update the firmware, the player gets reset to Auto for the USB mode.  Just reset it to MSC.

5.  In my humble opinion, forget WMP and syncing–drag-and-drop is king …  (Having said that, I don’t do playlists.  Check for advice from others, such as the above, for that.  You also can do a search in the forum (box at the upper left) on playlists.)  Personally, I find WMP confusing. 

For whatever it is worth, an info. sheet from the SanDisk Knowedge Base, on playlist creation.

http://kb.sandisk.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6/kw/clip%2Bclip/page/6/r_id/101834

Just take a few deep breaths, and you should be fine.

Oh, and don’t subject yourself to 3 days of frustration!  As you’ve seen, people here are happy to provide advice based on considerable experience with the Clips.

SanDisk doesn’t have much incentive to pay someone to rewrite the (poorly written, incomplete) manual when there are volunteers here willing to answer your questions for free…  I come here if I have a question. :slight_smile:

I’m sure Windows Media Player is only used in the manual because it’s mainstream - not because it’s good.  I don’t use it.  I also don’t use Sansa Updater - firmware updates don’t come out daily, so it doesn’t need to be running all the time. 

I do use mp3tag to get my audiobook tracks in order.  I’ve even created a playlist with mp3tag once, but that’s the extent of my playlist usage.

I hope you find something you like - I love my little Sansas and I’ve found them to be a great value.

I only use my Sansa Clip to play FLAC music files which I download via bit torrent, and have found it to be 100% reliable. Only problem I ever had was after I inadvertantly changed the language to Chinese, but I eventually managed to change it back to English. My only grouse is that the wav files saved from fm radio are very lossy at a sample rate of 24k with all frequencies above 11k curtained.

http://kb.sandisk.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6/kw/clip%2Bclip/page/6/r_id/101834

Yup, I read that article, during my struggles.

I followed the advice, but it still left me able to sync my (unprotected) mp3 files, but no sign of any WMP Playlists.

I mean, seriously, all I’m looking for is the SanDisk guys to add one sentence to the Clip+ documentation.

"If you’re planning on syncing WMP playlists to your Clip+, you need to set the USB Mode to MTP, even if none

of your mp3 files are copy-protected."

That’s it.

That one sentence would’ve saved me ages.

You document all the other steps really clearly, with screenshots, but without that sentence, how are beginners

supposed to know why their playlists aren’t syncing ? 

Oh, and out of interest, has anyone tried to _reproduce _my problem ?