Some random comments – that may even be of some use, should anyone at Sansa take the time to read, consider, and grasp what I’m saying – from someone who owns multiple players.
First, a rough inventory – I have many Sansas – Clips V1/V2 (1/2/4/8 GB), c200 V1 (2GB), e200 V1/V2 (4/8GB), Express (1GB), and my wife has a View (16GB). I also have a couple of Zunes (Gen 1/2 hard drive), and my wife has an Ipod (Gen 5 hard drive).
My least favorite is the Ipod. It’s also the only one I’ve had to repair (not counting cleaning the spinwheel on an e200 that got pushed past the MTBF limit playing “Bubbles”). IMO the Ipod… well, it just seems kinda fragile to me. The Sansas and Zunes seem solid, robust, strong, but the Ipod seems… hard to come up with a word to describe the impression without sounding snarky. It seems rather dainty, especially compared to the Zunes and Sansas.
My least favorte software… it’s a tossup between Itunes (gag), the Zune program (retch), and the Sansa Media Converter (puke).
If you put me in a lifeboat with those three programs, a gun, and one bullet, I’d use the bullet to hijack an aircraft carrier and then order the captain to sink the lifeboat before those programs could escape.
I f’n HATE those programs. They are EVIL.
What mitigates the evilhood somewhat is that I can use Rockbox with the Sansas and therefore completely avoid having to go near the vile SMC program – and, have actually usable video display on my Sansas. The native video display… there’s no polite way to put it. It just plain sucks. It’s crude, it’s rude, it lacks even the barest of necessary functionality – the ability to slew to a specific time point, the ability to pause and resume (bookmarking), etc. And, it requires the use of oddball codecs that are NOT supported other than via the evil SMC program.
With Rockbox, any of a variety of open source apps will nicely convert videos – and, when viewing them, you can slew to a time marker, and, you can pause and resume later on.
Without Rockbox, video management is literally worthless on my Sansas, other than to show off a demo clip and say “look, a tiny video” – which gets old in a hurry.
I eagerly await the “RTM” version of “V2” Rockbox so that I’ll be able to view videos on ALL of my e200 Sansas.
Now, that said, the Zunes beat the bloody hell out of ALL comers in terms of video managment. Big, beautiful display, good bookmarking/slewing, and tolerable CODEC handling. There ARE serious shortcomings, not the least of which is the mandatory use of the evil Zune.exe program – but, the beautiful video display quality compensates enough for me to tolerate the crude obnoxious PITA managment app.
The Zunes stink, though – compared to the Sansa Clip – when working with Audiobook and Podcast content. NOTHING beats the Clip in that realm. A tiny, reliable player – can lose two of them in my shirt pocket – holding WEEKS of audiobooks and podcasts – with decent handling (bookmarking/pause-resume, etc.)
Using this sort of content on the Zunes is nothing short of painful. It’s simply NO CONTEST up against the (deceptively!) modest Sansa Clip.
As you can see, I’ve found NO “single solution player” – something with the video goodness of the Zunes, the audiobook and podcast features of the Clip (not to mention the price and form-factor benefits of the Sansas).
In my opinion Sansa could easily improve their marketshare dramatically by performing some relatively minor tweaks to their firmware. The needed changes are obvious. Even if they DON’T implement folder browsing, people would buy 'em hand over fist if they actually made the video USABLE (without people needing to find, install, configure, and LEARN a third party firmware).
A larger LCD (and, the more expensive type used in the Zunes, which is non-directional – can be viewed from any angle, without having the image go all wonky if turned in one direction) would also help – but, unless they make the firmware USABLE even the world’s fanciest display hardware won’t help at all.
There’s my longwinded free advice. I think it’s GOOD advice, and if followed, will result in the sales of many more players than you’re moving now. Just tweak the firmware to allow people to USE the players for video – and to do so WITHOUT needing proprietary software. Then, slipstream in an upgraded (non-directional) LCD, and you’ll own the world.