Transcend MP860

My trusty Samsung MP3 player is starting to show its age and as 500mb diskspace is not sufficient anymore, I’ve been looking around for an apt replacement for quite a while.

My requirements were:
-Has real buttons so I can skip files pressing the buttons while the player stays in my pocket
-Works on Linux as well
-File transfer and battery charging via USB
-Supports .ogg and .flac files (I ripped all my CDs to .ogg)
-Diskspace > 500mb
-Comes with a lock button that actually works
-Is not an iPod or Zune or some similar crap
Options were:
-No additional features such as radio, video playback etc. The simpler, the better!
-Supports multiple display language and file names

While there are quite a number of players that support .ogg files, not many work on Linux. After buying an external USB-disc manufactured by Transcend which works with Linux (supported on Kernel 2.4 and higher) I found the MP860 on their website
Some reviews found via google revealed that users were basically happy with the device and when I found the MP860 in a shop nearby I couldn’t resist. I’ve only used it for a couple of days but there are a couple of things I can tell you already:

-Works well on Linux (Ubuntu 9.10 in my case) as well as on Windows XP and later. Ubuntu recognizes the disc and mounts it automatically but I don’t know which filesystem it uses. The manual states you should explicitly specify dos when manually mounting the device
-Charging until the battery is full takes quite a while
-File transfer is quite slow
-Sound is not bad (I don’t really have a definition of “good” sound via headphones – I can hear the music which is good enough for me)
-The lock button works
-Interface language can be switched between several languages incl. Japanese
-The MP860 is really light-weight and feels like a plastic toy. To me, that’s a tad negative though

So far, all is quite well. I’ve discovered one drawback though: If you copy over a complete folder, the files are added in random order even though they are properly named starting 01_…, 02_…, etc. So far I have not been able to figure how they are sorted or how this behaviour can be influenced.
UPDATE: Transcend released another firmware upgrade on January 15th 2010 which I installed. Of course *arrgh* this must be done on Windows *sob*. After the Firmware upgrade I re-formatted the internal memory and copied the folders containing the .ogg files back on to the MP860. This time the files are listed in alphabetical order. Question now is, is that because of the new firmware or because I copied the files on Windows? I’ll have another look tonight on Ubuntu.
Also, the device comes with playlists but the handling is quite fiddly and creating a playlist (actually a podcast shoutlist) created on Rhythmbox copied over is neither recognized nor playable. Same goes for .m3u play lists.
UPDATE2: Just checked it on Ubuntu – still the same problem. The correct alphabetical order of files in folder in the internal memory was due to the files being copied over from Windows. What a letdown… 🙁

UPDATE 3 & Solved (?)
It looks like copying files via cp -r <folder>/ <targetfolder>/ rattles the files into a random order on the MP860 which can play the files only in the order they were copied onto the device. Here’s a workaround though: instead of copying files via Nautilus or cp -r <folder>/ <targetfolder>/, try cp <folder>/* <targetfolder>/ – the wildcard expansion apparently queues the files in correct alphabetical order and copies them one by one.
Technical support at Transcend was friendly but not so helpful. Thanks to Salvatore for the hint about the wildcard…

I haven’t contacted Transcend about this yet but if you know something, please let me know….

The lock button does what it’s supposed: If the device is locked, it can’t be turned on (accidentally or on purpose). Apparently this was fixed in the first firmware upgrade which was already installed when I bought the MP860.
The MP860 can also play back videos (the converter tool only works on Windows) and it comes with a radio. As long as these features don’t kill the battery life I’m happy without using them.



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3 Responses to “Transcend MP860”

  1. Alexander says:

    Hi m.,

    I read your blog today. In fact, Transcend states that the mp860 does store the files in the order they are copied onto the device. See their FAQ here:
    They do give you the link for a tool, which you can edit the dirictory with, but state that they are not liable if there is damage by using it. In other words, I suppose their recommendation works, but it is not an official patch.
    I also wondered why it is like this. My cellphone is more sophisticated in that you can choose whether to sort alphabetically or by file date.

    greetings, alex

  2. admin says:

    Hi Alex
    Thanks for your comment. I checked out the link to FolderSort and sure enough it’s Windows-only software… It looks old enough that it’ll probably run on Wine but then again it may not because the software is so old (from 1999).
    Anyway, the workarounds I described work for me and with 8GB of space I don’t move files around that much.
    As for why this is, I think it’s a limitation by their OS that’s running on the MP860. Just as you mention, a sorting function would be great as even mobile phones can do that nowadays…

  3. Mauricio says:

    Hi. I was searching a lot about this music player and I found your blog. I’m happy because you are using Linux and maybe you can help me with this questions: What information is shown when play ogg?, have you try flac? The most important is about flac, because I’ve used to listen lossless (My iPod brokes short time ago). Thank you.