My Dad & Mom are Senior citizens and they are not tech-savvy. Their favourite music, comprising mostly of classical & devotional is in Cassettes which have worn out and storing cassettes take up huge space & they get dusty as well. The answer is to move digital, but they are the not portable music player (iPods) people, they want to listen to their music in a Music system in living room and they want to use something that is very easy to operate. A few years back I found just one such device – Logitech Slimbox (the predecessor to Squeezebox), bought it when I went to the USA. This device pulls music from your Home PC (you need to run a small server software), so you don’t need to keep syncing. The device works with both Wired Ethernet & Wireless, I had Ethernet cable running from Workroom to Living Room, so that was not an issue. The device worked fine for few months and then every other month developed a problem with the Power Adaptor – every time I replaced it another good quality 220V Power Adaptor, but it kept failing, finally, the device died.
I waited for few months for their new Squeezebox Touch to get released, or even any of the older models to be available in India – both didn’t happen. Giving up waiting, I decided to buy a standard MP3 Player and connect it to our living room Music system. I wanted just one feature – to play MP3 files, preferable it to automatically sync music or play from my Home PC, the UI should be with big fonts which are easy to read and a slightly larger device which is comfortable to keep it in one place. But today’s Digital Music Player’s are all very small, have too many features (Video, Radio, Voice Recording and so on). Today, I went to CROMA Showroom and bought this device – Sony NWZ-E444 – this doesn’t have to sync over Home Network, but this was the closest I could find.
Sony NWZ E444 costed Rs.7000 + taxes, additional 2 Year Warranty from CROMA – Rs.500, a Philips USB Power Adaptor – Rs.600. I liked the convenience of you just dragging and dropping files through Windows Explorer, not necessary to use iTunes or Windows Media Player or one more music software to get your music collection into the device.
Update 25/July/2010: Today while transferring files from my PC to the device I encountered few errors for WMA files, saying some meta properties are beyond scope of the device and these files will be skipped. I wondered whether Sony will have some software to do the conversation or transfer like Apple iTunes. I found the following programs at Sony Support page for the device:
1. Content Transfer – this small program helps you to drag and drop files from Windows Explorer or iTunes, gets it transferred to the Sony Walkman. I tried this now, seems to be doing it fine and fast.
2. Media Manager – this program helps in Ripping Music, importing photos and videos from multiple other formats, it also has some RSS/Podcast features which I haven’t tried yet.