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Old 02-11-2012, 06:51 AM   #1
jehane
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Best music player for Overdrive audiobooks?

Hi all

I've been thinking about getting something to play audiobooks. I don't currently own a music player - my phone plays mp3s for the rare occasion that I use that function. It does not however play Overdrive audiobooks. If I do get a separate device (rather than stripping/converting the files) then I will likely want to play music as well. I've had a look through the Overdrive site for compatible devices, but I'm not sure how recently it's been updated.

Important
- Able to load Overdrive (most are in wma format) audiobooks without any file tampering - otherwise I would just use my phone.
- Simple interface for selecting folders/files - I like a plain folder/file system
- Ability to return to or near the last bit read and to set that as default option

Less important
- Storage space - enough to carry 10 audiobook files at a time, but I don't need vast amounts. (Some of the books I have been looking at are 5 files each) Probably no need for more than 4GB, and should be able to get away with 2GB.
- Linkages to shops/social media
- Video playback

I'm leaning towards a Sansa Clip or iPod Nano at this stage, however I don't recall seeing the Sansa in shops in Australia (not that I was looking). The Overdrive site doesn't list the current version of the Shuffle, and the interface looks like it is useful only to play in a specific order or on random. My music collection is all ripped from my own cds (I don't have a lot) and is in either wma or mp3 format. I imagine it's straightforward to convert to Apple format if I go with a Nano?

I'm also looking at getting a Sony PRS-T1 - but from what I've read it only plays unencrypted audio files, so not Overdrive audiobooks?

I won't be buying until late April/early May.

Thanks!
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:41 PM   #2
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The Clip+ is probably your best and simplest bet at a reasonable price. It satisfies your three main requirements:
1. loads protected WMA audio files. Note that iPods can now load OverDrive audiobooks via a conversion process, but you'll experience a long loading time because of that conversion, compared to loading into the Clip+.
2. has a folder view (under Music).
3. resumes all files stored in folders Audiobooks and Podcasts.

N.B. in order to meet requirement 3 above, you can't just click through when loading the Clip+ via the OverDrive app. Instead, you must force the audiobook to load under folder \Audiobooks instead of the default loading folder \Music (where it would be playable but you wouldn't get the resume function). You get a chance to change the loading location during the OverDrive "Transfer" sequence, by clicking on "Advanced Options..." when it appears, and editing the root of the path from "\Music" to "\Audiobooks".

I hear Cowons are good, but they're pricey (at least in the U.S.). Many Sonys (those that advertise that they support podcasts) can also load and play audiobooks and meet your three requirements. But as with the Clip+, you need to specially load them, in this case under \Podcasts and exactly inside a level 2 folder, like this: "\Podcasts\[someOtherFolder]\audiobookfile01.wma". This is more restrictive than the Clip+ loading, which can see files at any hierarchical folder level under \Audiobooks.

The Clip+ has a micro SD slot while the Sonys don't. The Clip+ and Sony can play back faster than normal, but the Clip+ gives the "chipmunk" sound, while the Sony does pitch correction very nicely (no chipmunk sound). The Sonys I'm thinking of, like the NWZ-E350-series (mini-USB connector) and -E460-series (proprietary Sony connector) can play video on their 2" screens, though the E350-series doesn't play as many video formats as the E460-series player (it took me a while to find a conversion program that worked for an E354).

Microsoft Zunes also meet your requirements, but you're now complicating your life with an ecosphere (Zune Software is required for most things). And Microsoft no longer makes Zunes. I wouldn't recommend going that way at this point for any but an enthusiast, though I love my Zune.

Creative Labs players don't need any special OverDrive loading steps like the Clip+ and the Sonys, but when you want to pause and it eventually shuts down, you don't get resume. Instead, you have to shut it off while it is playing, and then you'll get resume. These players *do* offer manual bookmarks unlike the Clip+ and the Sonys, but have an unreliable resume (which only applies to the last-listened-to content).

If you want to go Apple, and you don't mind waiting the conversion time when loading, you need to ensure that all the library audiobooks are able to be converted. When I search my library for all audiobooks, it lists 6951. Then when I search for all iPod-compatible audiobooks, it lists 1000. But it has listed 1000 for about a year, so I think that may be a mistake. But I'd ask your library first, to ensure you're not limiting yourself to a subset of your library books.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:52 PM   #3
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The Clip Zip has everything the Clip+ has and also has AAC support for non-DRM iTunes files. Supported formats include: MP3, WMA, Secure WMA (overdrive), Audiobooks, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC compatible (DRM-free iTunes)

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Old 02-16-2012, 04:57 AM   #4
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Thanks jj2me. A very comprehensive rundown! Thanks also DaleDe. I'll have a closer look at the Sansas and find out where I can get them in Australia for when I get back.
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Old 02-19-2012, 02:59 AM   #5
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I don't think that any iPod plays protected wma files, which AFAIK is still what most OD books use. Also, while the nano is nice in a lot of ways, if your main purpose is to listen to audiobooks, it's probably not worth paying twice as much for the nano - I think they start at $140 in the US; street price for the clip zip is $60.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:15 AM   #6
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I don't think that any iPod plays protected wma files, which AFAIK is still what most OD books use.
Correct, iPods don't; but, there's a licensing agreement that allows these files to be converted for use on iDevices.

Every now and then, I'll download WMA library audiobooks to my iPod touch; though the conversion process is rather lengthy. Most of the time I just download them to my Clip Zip.
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:01 AM   #7
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Thanks Andrew and tubemonkey, that's useful to know. Interesting that the Overdrive site lists the ipods as compatible with wma files - I assumed that meant they were able to be natively played.

Sansa clip+/zip it is! Now to find out where I can get one...
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jehane View Post
Thanks Andrew and tubemonkey, that's useful to know. Interesting that the Overdrive site lists the ipods as compatible with wma files - I assumed that meant they were able to be natively played.

Sansa clip+/zip it is! Now to find out where I can get one...
You're welcome. I'd recommend getting one of the 4GB models. Amazon has both:The Clip Zip is a bit more versatile. Audiobooks are easier to access because SanDisk created a separate folder for them on the main menu. On the Clip+, the audiobook folder is buried inside the music folder and was always a pain to access.

Other features the Zip has that the Clip+ doesn't:
  • native support for non-DRM AAC files
  • 1.1" color display for album art only
  • micro USB port (vs mini USB for Clip+)
  • built-in stopwatch
  • main menu audiobook/podcast folder
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