Late last night I posted the following to Twitter and Jaiku after an hour or two of wrestling with Rhapsody to try to get subscription tracks to work on my N95 after I read that the N95 supports Rhapsody:
“Oh for crying out loud, I HATE Rhapsody. I’ll be canceling it ASAP. (I’m a poet and didn’t know it)”
Today one of my Jaiku friends asked me why I hate Rhapsody since he loves it. Below is my response that I started typing as a reply in Jaiku, but realized it was rather lengthy, and decided to blog it instead. *smirk*
Well, back when I bought my iRiver Clix 2, I signed up for Rhapsody To Go so I could try out subscription music on the device. I bought the Clix 2 2 or 3 months ago, and up until now, I have not yet been able to actually play subscription music on any portable device except for my computer. And the software is so bloaty and crashed so many times when I tried connecting my Clix 2 that for a long time I just left it alone and never tried much to figure out what was going on. I had thought I had a workaround by downloading the tracks on Rhapsody’s client and then transferring them over using MediaMonkey (another music management app that supports PlaysForSure devices) or even using Windows Media Player itself, but that didn’t work. When I tried to play the subscription tracks on the Clix 2, they wouldn’t play because of licensing issues, even though transferring the tracks over with WMP is something that other people have vouched for. At least when I tried out the Sandisk Sansa Connect, I was able to listen to Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription tracks both from transferring them to the device from my PC, and from downloading them directly to the Connect over its WiFi connection.
I’d read that the Clix 2, while compatible with PlaysForSure, had some issues with Rhapsody, so I forgave that, even though some people have gotten it to work on their Clix 2s through various methods (that didn’t work for me). But when I tried to put subscription tracks on my Toshiba Gigabeat S, that failed. And I excused that because I tried it at work a while back, and I thought that perhaps something in our firewall was blocking the licensing info or something, even though I’ve been able to play subscription tracks on my laptop just fine from work. I hadn’t bothered to follow up on this at home until last night.
I read that the N95 could play Rhapsody tracks, so I thought I’d try it. Everytime I tried transferring files over, I got “insufficient rights” problems. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the software, deauthorizing and reauthorizing both my laptop and the N95 multiple times, I deleted the Rhapsody directory in the Application Data folder, as one of their troubleshooting tips suggested, and tried various other things. I have not once been able to get the subscription tracks onto a portable music device even though I’m paying extra to do so. I shouldn’t have to work so hard to get this stuff working in the first place. Obviously the DRM is a problem, and until they make it absolutely transparent to the user, if they’re going to insist on using this crap anyway, I’m not going to be paying for it.
It’s a shame because I really liked the subscription model, being able to pull up music that I hear about, or remember, or whatever, and usually being able to listen to tracks fully (not a 30-second sample, though I guess now that I think about it, some songs on Rhapsody are limited to 30-sec samples…) right away. I guess I have been thoroughly annoyed at certain albums being “purchase only” and having some albums not even fully available for subscription usage (only a selection of tracks available, often not the popular singles from the album, of course), so that’s another fault I see with subscription models in general. Feh. I have wasted a lot of time trying to make Rhapsody work, a lot more than I think it deserves. It works great if I just listen to it on my little laptop, or even logging on to Rhapsody.com on my iMac and streaming music through the web interface, which I did for a while. But I mainly listen to audio on my portable devices, so seamless listening on my laptop or online doesn’t help me a lot. Plus, I’m paying for the privilege of transferring those tracks over to my portables (up to 3, they claim), and Rhapsody has not delivered. So I’m dumping them very soon.
P.S. Rhapsody doesn’t even provide a way for canceling your subscription online; I checked. I may have been really annoyed with Yahoo Music Unlimited because of their annoying, bloaty software, but they at least had an option for me to cancel my trial subscription directly online, no hassle.
The release addressed a few functional items we felt were important to get out there, as well as a couple bug fixes. Here are the highlights:
1. Improved MTP error handling on the player that was causing some PC connection problems.
2. File transfer performance between the player and PC was
significantly improved allowing for much faster transfers of both DRM and clear tracks.
3. Improved streaming performance of the LAUNCHcast radio stations – this will minimize dropped connections and buffering.
4. Corrected an issue that was causing some track downloads to fail. These tracks were showing up in the “Unable to Download” queue.
5. Added an on-screen indicator for when your player is connected via USB to the PC. You’ll notice that the player is still fully functional when connected to the PC.
It’s also worth noting that there’s a newer version of the YMJ PC software than what was shipped with your player. The new release is significantly enhanced from a stability and performance standpoint and we highly recommend that you complete the upgrade.
While I applaud that Sandisk/Yahoo addressed these issues (several of these were issues I didn’t like during my short review of the Connect), I would much rather that they fix these problems before it goes out to the customers. I don’t like this trend of releasing products before they’re truly complete and fairly rigorously tested. Customers should not be beta testers. If they want us to be beta testers, they should be paying us for the time spent testing the product! The problem with this approach is that customers might just assume that, “Oh, yeah, there are issues, but I’m sure they’ll release a firmware update to fix this stuff,” and realize the company isn’t actually going to do anything of the sort (*ahToshibaGigabeatSem*!).
Again, I am glad that Sandisk hasn’t just put out the Connect and left customers to fend for themselves. If they fix more issues like being able to search Yahoo Music Unlimited directly from the Connect, or opening the WiFi support to other subscription services, and tweak the hardware a bit to fix the touchy scrollwheel, I might just consider their 2nd-gen product. So far the Connect’s net radio streaming has been a better experience than Rhapsody streaming on the N800!
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I just wanted to post a quick “final thoughts” entry about the Sansa Connect.
Firstly, I think its WiFi functionality is the best implementation so far. The ability to stream LAUNCHCast radio stations and then use the Zing menu to get mixes of songs similar to what you’re listening to is an awesome feature. And the fact that you can not only rate individual songs, but also albums and artists is a very good way of tailoring your music recommendations even further. Also, downloading songs or albums directly to the Connect over WiFi was a great feature. It would’ve been even better if the interface to the Yahoo Music Unlimited library would’ve been more full-featured, but as is, the connection to the YMU library was okay. If you’re a big streaming music or subscription music user, I think the Sansa Connect would be a great portable music player for you.
However, because I am mainly a podcast listener, the Sansa Connect lacked some key features in this regard:
- bookmarks, so that even if I decide to listen to stop listening in the middle of a podcast and listen to some music, I can resume where I left off when I return to the podcast
- treating podcasts differently from the music content, so that if I shuffle all of the music on the Connect, I won’t get podcasts mixed in (unless I want that)
- separating out podcasts in the music library so that I don’t have to wade through a bunch of artists or song titles to get at my podcast content
- no on-the-go playlist creation
- on the PC side, there was no integrated podcatching functionality in the syncing software for the Sansa Connect
If the Connect had bookmarking, on-the-go playlists, and was able to download podcasts directly to the device, it would’ve been a definite keeper for me. The added benefit of streaming online radio and downloading music once in a while to the device would’ve been icing on the cake. I already thought that the external speaker was awesome for listening to podcasts, since the transition from my car to listening to the Connect on my couch was minimal, no need for a speaker dock.
Some other miscellaneous observations:
- The mechanical wheel had little detents (I think that’s what they’re called) — little stops around the circle that meant to coincide with individual items on the Connect’s menus. So if you scroll slowly, each little click around the wheel will bring you to the next menu item. However, if you’re scrolling moderately fast, the wheel becomes less responsive and will sometimes not register movement, so that’s when navigation gets frustrating. Not good if you have lots of albums/songs on your device.
- It seemed like the headphone output was softer than my iPod. I use an audio cable in my car to connect the headphone jack of my iPod to the aux-in jack on my stereo, and when I was using the Sansa Connect, I had to crank up the car stereo volume a lot more.
- A nitpicky thing, perhaps, but while the curvy shape of the Sansa Connect looks nice, it doesn’t make it easier for accessory manufacturers to make cases or other types of accessories for the Connect. I’ve always been a big believer in the idea that the mere lack of accessories for a device — cases, docks, audio/video connectors, etc. — can really turn off a consumer from buying said device. It may be shallow, but I at least want to be able to buy a case for my player (and not just some cheapo neoprene junk that barely accommodates the device), as well as some other things to personalize it. Lack of accessories can put a damper on the consumer’s experience with the device, so manufacturers would do well to appease their buyers in this respect.
- Sandisk would do well to create their own syncing software to interface with Yahoo Music Unlimited (or untether themselves from Yahoo and support all of the music subscription services over the WiFi connection, as well as adding Pandora, last.fm support for streaming radio). Yahoo Music Jukebox software is a total joke.
- The Flickr connectivity was really really cool, especially for someone like me, who likes to check out the Flickr Explore page semi-regularly for photographic inspiration.
- The large screen had very good resolution and color rendition. When I compared pictures from the Flickr Explore set on the Connect to the same picture on my iMac, they looked very close in tone. The pictures looked very sharp on the Connect.
The first-gen Sansa Connect is a pretty good device. Despite its locked-in nature with Yahoo services, the Connect’s WiFi features still kick the Zune’s butt. Perhaps the second-gen device, or even some firmware updates will address some of the issues I mentioned above, maybe it won’t. Either way, I think Sandisk did an admirable job creating a product that can seriously compete against the iPod nano and other flash-based mp3 players.
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As I did with the Sansa Connect review, I’m going to give you guys a mind-mapped version of the ideas I took note of for Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription service. I tried to keep it focused on the subscription service itself, but some elements of integration with the Sansa Connect cropped up. I’ll try to come back to this review and flesh it out in actual paragraphs and stuff, but for now, here’s the mind dump:
- Hard to just browse store catalog on PC
- Genre layout not intuitive
- Had to drill down too many levels in genres
- Example: alternative was a sub-genre under the “main” genre of rock
- Didn’t look as “professional” as other online services
- Yahoo Jukebox client is awful
- Crashed a lot
- Store front looked blah
- Slow syncing to device
- This is mainly due to Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) v. USB Mass Storage (UMS)
- Timed transferring a playlist of podcasts to the Sansa Connect and to the iPod, and the Connect took at least 2x as long, using Yahoo Jukebox, Windows Media Player, and Mediamonkey (all sw that handle MTP devices).
- Stream v. subscription tracks
- If auto-syncing tracks to device, software should have the sense to skip over tracks deemed “streaming only”!
- If software won’t handle it automatically, should offer configuration option to filter out streaming only tracks from being added to local music library so that they don’t “muck up” the library for your portable device.
- If there is an issue with licensing for certain tracks, software should take care of fixing the problem, transparent to the user.
- Had issue where a long list of tracks had licensing issue. Was told in an error dialog to right-click on each track to retry license (or whatever). Like I’m going to do that for a list of 20 tracks!
- Licensing errors made automatically syncing the whole “My Music” library to the Sansa Connect painful. The software kept choking on certain tracks, either due to perceived dupes, or perceived licensing issues. Eventually because of all of the app crashes, my PC didn’t even recognize the Connect when it was plugged into a USB port. Had to clear out all downloaded tracks on PC and device, and uninstall and reinstall Jukebox software. Then start over with no automatic syncing to portable to get things working again.
- No integrated podcatching functionality
- Probably not that important to most users, but since I listen to podcast more than I listen to music (at the moment), this is an important feature for me to have. So far no other mp3 player I’ve tried beats iPod + iTunes in this respect.
- Link to LAUNCHCast radio stations is good
- Zing Menu
- Great to be able to get “like this song” mixes when listening to radio stations or music locally on device
- Allows user to easily download the song or album currently playing
- Songs download in background and didn’t seem to affect streaming or playback much at all
- Can get recommendations from friends, or recommend songs to others
- Yahoo Messenger
- Nearby Sansa Connects
- Subscription allows user to download related tracks, if available
- Problems with dupes
- Example: U2 18 best singles album had same tracks as a different U2 album, and as a result it seems that the “overlapping” tracks were interpreted as dupes (WHY?).
- Had issue where error dialog popped up asking if I wanted to replace a certain track with the same version; software kept hanging because I chose no. When I finally chose yes, it was able to complete the library update. Error handling was pretty poor.
- Unknown genres for some tracks?
- I noticed that a bunch of the downloaded subscription tracks had unknown genres in the ID3 tags. VERY sloppy.
- Generally like the idea of music subscription
- Fickle music tastes means I get tired of listening to certain stuff pretty quickly
- Allows me to explore other artists without “risking” buying an album I don’t like
- Easy to download “one-hit wonders” or nostalgic tracks without worrying that may have already bought the album (but can’t easily find it around the house) and am wasting money
- Make “transient” mixes for parties or entertaining
- Listen to “guilty pleasure” songs/artists to get it out of my system.
- Not sure how filled out YMU library is compared to competing services
- Subscription limitations
- Song previews were inconsistent
- Some songs didn’t have any previews!
- This is totally ridiculous, especially when the same album(s) on different retailers like iTunes or Amazon had 30-sec previews. This just forces/encourages people to go elsewhere to preview the songs, which could lead to them buying the tracks/album wherever they could preview the music (example: soundtrack to Stranger than Fiction)
- Some songs only had 30-sec previews
- Some songs could be played fully
- Some songs/albums were marked as streaming only
- Some songs/albums weren’t available at all for streaming or subscription, only purchase
- Inconsistency makes the overall experience frustrating, especially when there isn’t an apparent reason for why certain albums are unavailable for subscription access. Subscription access should apply to ALL of the tracks available in YMU.
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That’s probably not the best blog post title, but perhaps it will grab your attention more.
I’ve come across a ton of interesting stuff that I’ve wanted to post about but haven’t because of various reasons. So I’m just going to dump it all here, stream-of-consciousness-like.
As I mentioned before, I found some online mind mapping applications that look promising:
1. bubbl.us: Very bubbly-looking, easy-to-use mind mapping site. You don’t even have to sign in to start. When you sign up for a free account, you get the capability to save and print your mind maps. It was nice (I used it for mind mapping the Sansa Connect review I did), but I didn’t like how it did not intelligently move the bubbles around so that they didn’t overlap each other. I spent just about as much time rearranging the bubbles as I did mapping out ideas.
2. MindMeister: This mind mapping site made the rounds on Twitter (as I noticed it, perhaps others on Twitter were talking about this before) when Steve Rubel was sending out his invites to the first 20 or so people to direct messaged him. Unfortunately I missed out, but when I was looking up online mind mapping sites last night I came across a review on Download Squad that said they were able to get an invite to the private beta right away after requesting one directly. That was also my experience, luckily. This site was a lot less flashy and bubbly than bubbl.us, but I liked the clean look. I also appreciated that it was more intelligent about moving around nodes as I entered text. I used this service to mind map out my review for the Yahoo Music Unlimited (not yet published) subscription service. Hopefully I can paste in the mind map without all the hassle of reformatting that I had to do for the Sansa Connect mind map dump.
MindMeister is free for a trial period, but after the trial is over, there’s a monthly subscription fee (sorry, can’t remember it right now). I think there are also limitations to the free account, like you can only create up to 5 mind maps, but don’t quote me on that.
* Incidentally, I have 20 invitations for MindMeister to give out, so let me know if you want one.
3. Mindomo: No private beta on this one. I signed up for an account but since I’d spent so much time on the other two, I ran out of time to check out this service. At first glance it looked like it had more formatting features, but the hotkeys to spawn child and/or sibling nodes didn’t seem as easy-to-use as the first two sites. More impressions later after I’ve played around with the site more.
All of these sites (AFAIK) offer collaboration features, so that you can share your mind maps and even edit mind maps simultaneously with other people. I don’t mind map enough for that feature to be useful to me right now. Mainly I was looking for a free or inexpensive way to do some quick mind maps on my iMac. There are a lot more stand-alone applications for both OS X and Windows that I might explore later.
Next topic: I bought a Wii a few weekends ago! My Twitter/Jaiku friends already knew this (come on, join up, people!). *smirk* The hubby and I went on a blitz shopping run on April 1st (a Sunday) because I’d read that some stores were going to get a new shipment of Nintendo Wii consoles that day. We didn’t get up as early as we were planning to, but luckily after checking a few stores in a couple different ‘burbs, we were able to get the next to the last “ticket” for a Wii at Toys ‘R Us in Downers Grove. So that’s why for a while I was kind of blog silent; I was spending much of my free time playing Wii Sports or WarioWare Smooth Moves. The Wii is an awesome console that is largely aimed at casual gamers like me. We have short attention spans, only want to play some games for short bursts rather than all-day frag fests or whatever, and may not enjoy having to learn a lot of complicated button combos or strategies just to play a game. The interactivity on the Wii with the motion-sensitive controllers is pretty awesome. I meant to buy Super Paper Mario tonight, but forgot while I was at Target this evening. Oh well, I’ll pick it up tomorrow.
Topic #3: Though I had read about it a while ago, I just got around to playing with Songbird a couple nights ago. Songbird is a Mozilla product that basically is a music-centric web browser. When you go to certain websites like mp3 blogs, it will create a “web playlist” of all of the downloadable/streamable tracks on that site, and you can play the tracks without having to download them to your machine first. It provides many ways to explore and find a lot of great music very quickly. It can act as a replacement for iTunes or other music management software, and through extensions can even sync with iPods or other USB devices. It’s also cross-platform, working on OS X, Windows, and Linux.
I am not entirely sure how it all works, and I’m sure I’m not giving the program justice with my lame description. So just go to their homepage and click on the “Watch the screencast” link. The voiceover is cheesy, but it really demonstrates the cool features of this media app. It’s still pretty beta, so keep that in mind. But don’t let it prevent you from trying out this cool app!
Topic #4: I just saw news today that the iRiver Clix 2 finally went on sale, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger on ordering it. I hope it arrives in the mail very soon! I’ve been following the Clix since the first generation device that was called the U10 (before the name change), so I’ve waited long enough.
Now I need to return or sell the Sansa Connect to offset the price. *sheepish grin* To be fair, the Clix 2 is cheaper than the Connect at $199, but has the same 4GB capacity (an 8GB version is supposed to come out in June, but I can’t wait). Yes, it’s lacking the WiFi and all of the associated goodness of the Connect, but I gain a bigger screen, video playback capability, Flash games (eh, just a nice little bonus that I probably won’t use much), possibly better podcast support, and the cool Clix interface. It also can switch between MTP and UMS, so if I wanted to, I could just use UMS and drag and drop files to it, never needing sync software again. But it also supports music subscription services, so I might try a Rhapsody subscription. The MoTR guys seem to like the service a lot, so I’ll give it a try. Stay tuned for a review of that device.
There are a few more interesting topics I have wanted to blog about, but I think I’ve overloaded this post already. Sorry, I had to get all caught up!
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Since I have been dragging my feet a bit in posting my review of the Sandisk Sansa Connect, I thought I’d post a straight dump of the mind map I did on bubbl.us, an online mindmapping application. I will probably revisit this and flesh it out a bit more in the next couple days, but I wanted to post something now, since I know some of you are waiting to hear more about it.
**Sorry about the fonts and the weird formatting. I can’t seem to get it to look right from my WYSIWYG editor (ScribeFire extension for Firefox). I already enlarged the fonts overall, but there are still some really small fonts. Mea culpa!
- Vivid colors
Downloading tracks directly over WiFi
Downloading tracks at the same time as streaming net radio or listening to music did not seem to affect the streams that much
Easy, just log in to YMU service and subscription is taken care of
Very easy to download a song or an album of the current song playing, whether it is on the streaming radio station, or a local track on your player.
Sounds great for a small, mono speaker
A lot more convenient than a speaker dock
Connection to Flickr is really cool
Since Flickr requires Yahoo login, assuming your Flickr and YMU subscription are under the same login, the connection is automatic
Colors seem very close to my iMac monitor
Menus look fairly pleasant
Okay, bright color scheme (Yahoo-ized, as mentioned elsewhere) that sort of looks glassy, like Aero Glass on Vista, or Aqua elements in OS X
Album art is shown in just about every menu, whether it is for local content, or for streaming radio stations, or for Yahoo Music Unlimited content under the “Get More Music” menu
Consistent context menus available for different options during playback
Options menu (left button under screen)
Can rate not only current song, but also the album and artist. This feature is very good for tailoring music recommendations from subscription service.
Control shuffle and repeat; nice to be able to do this without having to leave the “Now Playing” screen.
Remove song from playlist or from device. I really wish the iPod had this feature! Helps to get rid of listened-to tracks while away from computer.
Zing menu (right button)
My most liked feature: “make a mix like this song”
Main draw for this player — WiFi functionality is accessed through this menu option
Sending recommendations to friends
Yahoo Messenger buddies
Can see what music your buddies are listening to if they are online and have the feature enabled
Nearby Sansa Connect users
Getting recommendations from friends
Sending tracks to other Connect users nearby
Downloading individual songs or albums
Slow sync time
At least 2x slower at syncing playlists than iPod
*Granted, I did sync to a HD-based iPod. I don’t know if syncing to my nano would’ve been closer in syncing time to the Connect. I highly doubt it, though, considering my past experience.
This is likely due to MTP. When I used two other apps to sync a playlist to the Connect, I got similar sync times (both of which were still at least 2x slower than iTunes syncing to an iPod).
Means that you’re limited to programs that handle MTP
Windows Media Player
Preferred, since it seems the least bloated out of all of these apps. Also seems to be more effective at managing ID3 tags and album art.
Yahoo Music Jukebox
Winamp (via plugin)
Can’t use as Flash drive
WiFi is limited to Yahoo services. Cannot specify your own favorite online radio stations. Can still use any PlaysForSure tracks, but not over WiFi.
LAUNCHCast radio stations
Yahoo Music Unlimited To Go subscription service
Yahoo Music Jukebox software sucks*
This and the Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription service will discussed in more detail in a separate blog post.
Crashed several times
Problems with licensing, dupes, no genre ID3 tags on some subscription tracks
Storefront looks blah, hard to navigate, too much drilling down into genre categories
WiFi interface to YMU is not robust enough to completely forgo Jukebox software
Only limited to a certain number of “top tracks” in each genre.
Genre categories are not as intuitive as on other music services; need to drill down too much to get to certain common genres, like “alternative”.
Can’t download tracks from PC over WiFi (i.e. podcast playlists)
No OTG playlist creation
This would’ve helped in “untethering” the player from the PC, which could’ve help the Connect overcome the lousy syncing software it has to use.
No video (would have been a nice bonus with the big screen)
Screen is not that much smaller than 5th-gen iPods, so watching short video podcasts or short TV shows would be a decent experience
No Audible support?
No display customization
No themes or wallpaper choices
Only one view for playback window
No “album art-friendly” display option to show the album art fullscreen
Very Yahoo-ized look, which isn’t that bad
Price is high compared to competitors
While comparable in price to iPod nano, or other 4GB flash players, a user would really need to subscribe to Yahoo Music Unlimited to get the full experience on the Connect. So price is really $250 + $15/mo subscription.
MicroSD slot is too hard to access
The slot on my particular unit seemed deeply inset, so you need to use something like a fingernail to really push the card into the slot properly. And I already have small hands. Someone with larger hands would surely have a problem with this.
Mechanical scroll wheel, while smooth, sometime lags behind, or does not register movement. So navigation can be a bit touchy.
Battery life might be short compared to competitors; didn’t do any scientific tests, though
Power button doesn’t have enough tactile feedback. It is relatively low-profile, so sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not the button press was registered by the device.
No extra features like games, clock, alarm, sleep timer. Would have at least liked a clock display at the top of the screen during playback.
Podcasting support is nonexistent, meaning podcast are just treated as any other audio track
No bookmark feature for playback
Essential for long podcasts/audiobooks
The rew/ff speed of the player isn’t quick enough (IMO) to skip through a long track to get back to where you left off.
No show notes support for podcasts
No easy way to filter out podcasts or audiobooks from music library
During shuffle, would probably get podcasts interspersed with music, since the two types of tracks are not differentiated.
Update: After you read this entry, check out my “mind map” reviews for the Sansa Connect and Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription service, as well as the final thoughts post about the Sansa Connect that I just posted today (4/16/07).
Hey, Kids! I recently purchased a Sandisk Sansa Connect, a portable audio player that’s WiFi-enabled and can stream internet radio stations as well as play mp3s/WMAs and view photos from Flickr or on the device. It’s a pretty interesting device, and I plan on writing up a review for it soon, after I’ve had a few days to play around with it. You can check out my unboxing pictures on Flickr.
A few quick notes:
1. Probably the most important point: the Connect device does not just connect to unprotected, open WiFi spots like all of the literature implies. You can connect to a WEP-protected WiFi access point. This was a concern of mine, since I couldn’t find any mention online anywhere about this. I wasn’t about to leave my WiFi open just to use this device!
2. The player gets its net content from Yahoo Music Unlimited. So if you have a subscription to this service you can fill the Connect player with songs from YMU. What’s cool is that you can download YMU songs directly to the player over WiFi, without needing to sync with your PC. The internet radio stations that Connect streams are also from the Yahoo music service. As far as I can tell so far, you can’t input your own online radio station links.
3. Connecting to Flickr is pretty cool. You can view the public photos chosen for the Explore page, or view pictures from your own photostream, if you have a Flickr account. You can view slideshows from either the Explore gallery or your photostream, and play music in the background. I compared the colors of the display on the Connect to my iMac monitor for the Explore gallery, and they are very close, which is impressive. Very cool if you’re a Flickr junkie.
4. Yahoo Music Jukebox is the software used to sync music to the Connect. As far as I know at the moment, you can’t just drag and drop music to the device, but I’m going to explore that further. So far the Yahoo Music Jukebox software has been rather sluggish. Syncing the subscription music (or even podcasts from my laptop) is a slow process. I think part of this has to do with my unfamiliarity with how the subscription service works (I eventually figured out to change the settings so that when I mark an album from Yahoo Music Unlimited to add to “My Music”, it automatically downloads the songs instead of just bookmarking them), so I will play around with it more. But so far, even just copying a playlist of podcasts to the Connect seems a lot slower than syncing my iPod with iTunes. And there’s no integrated podcatching feature in the Yahoo Music Jukebox software.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth review, along with menu walkthroughs (and perhaps some videos), coming soon.