Monday, April 13, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

I got my Cowon A3-60SL media player last month and after giving it a full charge I connected it to my Tivo. The electronic manual did a good enough job in getting me started. The wiring was easy but it took a few minutes to figure out how to start recording. It would really help if it had one touch recording (OTR) like VCRs and DVD recorders have. Since it doesn’t have OTR, I had to set up a timer event for at least 1 minute in the future and wait for it to start recording and then release the pause on my Tivo. Some of you kids may not remember this, but that’s how you used to make mix tapes……on cassette even. Not a big deal, but it could be done a little better. Being able to record my shows straight to it is brilliant and other than the 1-2 minutes per show to set up, it is very little effort. It records in real time so it is not as fast as downloading a file, but since I don’t know how to get my shows as files, I don’t have another choice.

The videos I recorded worked well and I liked the bookmarking feature. This allowed me to come back to a particular spot when I don’t have time to finish my program. The screen size is good, but not as big as the portable DVD player I normally use. The single speaker is pretty much unusable so headphones or earbuds are a must. The recorded videos took up very little space and it would take forever to load 60GB worth of directly recorded videos.

The next thing I wanted to try was podcasts. I was able to download some podcasts from Attack Of The Show to my PC and then drop the files in to the player. This worked easy enough, but I wanted to be able to do it automatically. The unit comes loaded with a program called myPodder. The instructions were very crappy for this function. Here’s the simple way to make it work, connect your player to your computer by the USB connection on the back of your PC. Open up Windows Explorer on your PC and launch the program directly from the Cowon. You really don’t need to set up an online account to make it work. That’s part of what was throwing me. If they would have skipped that I would have been rolling sooner. The instructions for adding feeds were actually helpful. I did a few test downloads and watched them while I was ellipticalling. I don’t recommend this by the way. The screen is too small for this and the trainer is not quite steady enough to keep it from jiggling around.

The next day I was ready to download the new podcasts. I launched myPodder and it showed the new podcasts that were ready. This was really cool. I told it to download and headed down to dinner. When I came back, I was ready to disconnect the player and did the “Safely Remove Hardware” procedure. It came up with an error message that I remember seeing in the user’s guide. The user’s guide said this shouldn’t be a problem and just wait a few minutes and try again. I did that and got the same error. This time I waited about half an hour and when I came back, the player was just showing a bright white screen. I tried resetting the device, but no luck. As soon as I hooked it up to AC power or the PC, the white screen would come appear. I looked on a forum for the player and found I was a victim of “The White Screen of Death” and followed some troubleshooting advice but still could not get it to recover. Since it was just purchased, I was able to return it to Amazon as a defective part. I didn’t want to go the factory repair route as long as I had an easy way to just start again with a new player. I have already been credited for the player and also sent back a leather case I bought for it since I wasn’t sure if I would get another one.

So now I have successfully killed 3 video players that have the recording function. I really don’t need these things but it is starting to turn in to an obsession with finding one that works. I saw Amazon had the new Archos 5 on sale over the weekend and I had to talk myself out of getting it. It had good reviews for the product but horrible reviews for the customer service. I keep going back to the iPod Touch, but I’m still not convinced that I want to pay that much for it with no recording ability or TV tuner. If it dropped to about $200 I would probably get it or I would be willing to pay a little more if the iRecord Pro dropped to $150. I have been wanting (not needing) a laptop for quite a while so for the money I think the best course of action will be to get one around Christmas time after Windows 7 replaces Vista.


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