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New cheap portable player in the market

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sandreas:

--- Quote ---But a touchscreen is IMNSHO worthless in a DAP, because without hard buttons, you have to be able to see the screen in order to effectively operate the device.  This makes it a non-starter for visually impaired folks, or in situations where looking at a screen would be unsafe.
--- End quote ---

Yeah this may be correct. But having a touchscreen AND buttons for play/pause, vol+, vol+ and possibly next, previous and hold would be the best approach in my opinion. Most people are familiar with phones these days and a clickwheel from the older iPods is pretty complex and way less flexible than a touchscreen, even when the touchscreen is small.

Looking at the Sony NW-A306, I like their basic approach (besides it is a bulky, power hungry android beast), the only thing that bothers me is the missing headphone remote support via audio jack. It works via USB-C to jack adapter with mic support from amazon, which made me laugh. I'm pretty sure OMTP via TRRS for headphone remote control could be implemented in linux pretty easily, because it is just detecting a click-pattern in the mic input... I wonder why nobody seems to care about this.

Apple prefers CTIA, but the click pattern works on ALL their devices from 2009 ipod classic (rewind and fast forward does not work on 2009 classics) till today, even on MacBooks with audio jack have support. On my iPod Nano 7G I can either use the EarPods remote and even the the devices buttons to control the whole playback scenario...

* Vol+
* Vol-
* Toggle
* Toggle (hold) - speak song title
* 2xToggle - next chapter / track
* 3xToggle - prev chapter / track
* Toggle+hold - fast forward
* 2xToggle+hold - rewind
That's all I need without looking at the screen or even touch the device. And it works flawlessly...

Speaking of hardware, I thought this writeup was pretty interesting:

https://jaycarlson.net/embedded-linux/

The Rockchip 3308 kind of won there, but looking at the power consumption chart, I would prefer a chip that is just slightly more than enough for modern audio codecs needing as little power as possible. I think the V3(s) is a good fit and the completely finshed hardware and firmware design of the FunKey S would be an interesting base to start. And it's cheap enough.

Another one would be the MangoPI:
https://mangopi.org/
Looks like they have an Audio-Player (Cyber Pad 1 mini - https://mangopi.org/cp1m) on the front page... maybe worth doing some further research

BTW: Here is a DIY Gaming Console also with a reference design for Allwinner S3 (Called X-Boy Plus) WITH Audio Jack, but I did not find much information about this and no purchase information:

Demo-Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTBzunSkPDQ
Repository: https://github.com/hsinyuwang/X-Boy
Schematics (V3s): https://bbs.aw-ol.com/assets/uploads/files/1691901010607-schematic_allwinner-v3s-game-handheld_2023-08-13.png
More info: https://bbs.aw-ol.com/user/hsinyuwang

However, I'm not skilled enough to give this redesign a go (and I don't own a 3D printer!). Hopefully these guys see the potential and maybe fork the design for a dedicated audio player, maybe with rockbox support :-) I would buy it, even when rockbox does neither support OMTP nor CTIA nor Bluetooth nor Wifi... 


speachy:

--- Quote from: sandreas on September 16, 2023, 04:16:09 PM ---But having a touchscreen AND buttons for play/pause, vol+, vol+ and possibly next, previous and hold would be the best approach in my opinion. Most people are familiar with phones these days and a clickwheel from the older iPods is pretty complex and way less flexible than a touchscreen, even when the touchscreen is small.

--- End quote ---

Except that Rockbox sports a _very_ different UI paradigm from "phones these days".  The latter carries with it all sorts of functional user expectations that Rockbox will never meet -- it's not something that can be papered over with a new theme. 

This goes well beyond audio playback controls; It is a hard requirement that _every_ UI element be usable/available without looking at the screen.  [*]

If what you want is effectively a smartphone with more buttons, there are countless DAPs out there that are all trying to outdo each others by (badly) copying smartphone design (anti)patterns from the era of crappy uninstallable crappy carrier/vendor apps.

Meanwhile.  The problem with building a new DAP isn't in the component selection or even things like PCB design/layout; it's the huge up-front cost of making a (robust) enclosure and obtaining enough components up front for sufficiently large production run -- economies of scale begin to really kick in at 10,000 units, but anything under 1,000 units is probably not even worth the effort, since anything created will have to be cost-competitive with not only the current crop of mass-produced DAPs but also the considerable secondary market for refurbished ipods.

Honestly, what we really need is someone who can speak Mandarin and is willing to negotiate with a Chinese OEM so they'll crank out a batch of an exsiting design for us, on the condition that we get schematics and some reference source code along with it.

[*] Of course, Tockbox is purely GPL licensed, so anyone can port it to whatever hardware they want (and we'll probably accept it into the main repository) but if we're going to commission hardware intended for Rockbox, it's going to be something that enables our still-unique-in-the-market features, notably fully translated/voiced user interface that can be operated in situations where looking at the screen is impractical or impossible.

sandreas:

--- Quote ---This goes well beyond audio playback controls; It is a hard requirement that _every_ UI element be usable/available without looking at the screen. 
--- End quote ---
Did not know that... I like the approach.


--- Quote ---If what you want is effectively a smartphone with more buttons, there are countless DAPs out there that are all trying to outdo each others by (badly) copying smartphone design (anti)patterns from the era of crappy uninstallable crappy carrier/vendor apps.
--- End quote ---

No, what I mainly would like to have is a working SOLUTION to my personal problem. However, I don't think this will ever happen, because it is way to specific.


* Small device - the smaller the better, but I would say that the maximum is 110x60x20mm
* readable display
* Usable offline
* Works with traditional headphones (Audio jack)
* Supports playback control via Headphone (at least volume+, volume- and play/pause)
* Supports modern codecs (m4a, flac, mp3, ogg, etc.) - especially m4b audiobooks with chapters
* Can be synced somehow - best case via Bluetooth / Wifi, but I would accept cable sync
All these are fulfilled by:

* iPod Nano 6 and 7
* Some Android phones / players (Unihertz Jelly 2, Fiio M6, LG G5 H850, Google Pixel 4a, ...)
Some optional nice to have features would be:

* Repairable (incl. a replaceable battery)
* Hackable / develop software for it
* Low power requirements
* Extendable storage
* Extra buttons (next, prev, hold)
What bugs me the most on the iPod nanos is that they are so hard to repair and have low battery life. That's why I'm looking for alternatives.


I would be happy with a 3d printed case... at least for now. The sophisticated industrial production would be not a criteria, but I understand that this would be the approach rockbox would like to go.

Thanks for your opinion.

speachy:

--- Quote from: sandreas on September 17, 2023, 08:06:53 AM ---
* Small device - the smaller the better, but I would say that the maximum is 110x60x20mm
* readable display
* Repairable (incl. a replaceable battery)
* Hackable / develop software for it
* Extendable storage
* Extra buttons (next, prev, hold)
--- End quote ---

There are quite a few devices available right now that meet this criteria, including several still purchasable new -- The Eros Q/K (+ clones) clock in at 90x55x15mm, the xDuoo X3ii is 102x53x15, the classic ipods, and more.  My daily driver is an original xDuoo X3 (106x45x14) which even has dual SD card slots.


--- Quote from: sandreas on September 17, 2023, 08:06:53 AM ---What bugs me the most on the iPod nanos is that they are so hard to repair and have low battery life. That's why I'm looking for alternatives.

--- End quote ---

It's also purely internal-flash-based, which means it _will_ eventually fail and become a (crappy) paperweight.  That's one of the best arguments for the HDD-based iPods; the spinning rust can be replaced with a CF or SD card, easily swappable when it fails.


--- Quote from: sandreas on September 17, 2023, 08:06:53 AM ---I would be happy with a 3d printed case... at least for now. The sophisticated industrial production would be not a criteria, but I understand that this would be the approach rockbox would like to go.

--- End quote ---

3D printing is awesome for prototyping, but it's horrendously expensive (and slow) for serial production.  (And you have detail/tolerance/finish limitations which can cause problems for things like buttons, which is a really big deal here.

It's actually pretty straightforward to build a prototype DAP using (eg) an SoC devkit and a protoboard; but to build your own PCB you need to already have the enclosure.


Thanks for your opinion.

sandreas:

--- Quote ---Thanks for your opinion.
--- End quote ---

Thanks for providing so much information :-) I really appreciate the time it took to answer these long posts.


--- Quote ---There are quite a few devices available right now that meet this criteria, including several still purchasable new -- The Eros Q/K (+ clones) clock in at 90x55x15mm, the xDuoo X3ii is 102x53x15, the classic ipods, and more.  My daily driver is an original xDuoo X3 (106x45x14) which even has dual SD card slots.

--- End quote ---
Yeah, I know that. I'm the proud owner of several iPod classic 2009, I modded myself with an iFlash Quad, 512GB storage via micro SD (more would be detected, but do not work as expected because of memory and cpu limitations) and a 2200mah battery.

This thing is absolutely great, here is why I do not use it on a daily basis (I use it as a vacation device to have all my audio books with me):

* Does not support fast forward / rewind via headphone remote - this is something I use pretty often
* Using the headphone remote wakes up the display - that woke up my children lying next to me more than once by accident
* A lot bulkier than the iPod Nano 6 / 7
* UI is not as easy to use (for me) - searching content is not really easy
I could use Rockbox and fix all this, but since there is lots of other things that do not work, it would be a huge amount of work... Rockbox whilst I appreciate all of the work that was put in is just not ready enough for listening to m4b audio books in my opinion :-)


--- Quote ---It's also purely internal-flash-based, which means it _will_ eventually fail and become a (crappy) paperweight.  That's one of the best arguments for the HDD-based iPods; the spinning rust can be replaced with a CF or SD card, easily swappable when it fails.
--- End quote ---

Absolutely... I already thought of dumping the firmware and hacking it via reflow soldering and putting a cable between the flash chip and the soldering spots. I'm pretty sure the iPod 7g has:

* LGA60 or BGA60 nand flash (like iPhone 5s)
* and usb programmer https://de.aliexpress.com/item/4000512585123.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.main.45.59095ef9PZMHCG&algo_pvid=3a0d1869-2d2e-4cef-9c26-207be00601b0&algo_exp_id=3a0d1869-2d2e-4cef-9c26-207be00601b0-22&pdp_npi=4%40dis%21EUR%214.25%214.25%21%21%214.44%21%21%4021038ed816951022284832975eb24d%2112000025080909361%21sea%21DE%214558788930%21S&curPageLogUid=MtjzYoAvJazK
* a long flexcable - https://de.aliexpress.com/item/32917136928.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.main.51.2f515ef9bfwJRi&algo_pvid=5b632612-2928-4072-afbe-8922c02ddb37&algo_exp_id=5b632612-2928-4072-afbe-8922c02ddb37-25&pdp_npi=4%40dis%21EUR%217.28%217.28%21%21%217.60%21%21%4021038ed816951023340084053eb24d%2165942031885%21sea%21DE%214558788930%21S&curPageLogUid=wXpGKO5cPKSo

But I did not find the time.


--- Quote ---3D printing is awesome for prototyping, but it's horrendously expensive (and slow) for serial production.  (And you have detail/tolerance/finish limitations which can cause problems for things like buttons, which is a really big deal here.

It's actually pretty straightforward to build a prototype DAP using (eg) an SoC devkit and a protoboard; but to build your own PCB you need to already have the enclosure.
--- End quote ---

Yep. But I don't need a polished one. I would need one that works. Would be great to "go in production", but that has some challenges that will also slow down the release to in two years from now :-) I would like to have one as soon as possible.

For now, I'm happy enough with my iPod nano 6/7 and my Unihertz Jelly 2e running Audiobookshelf app. You can read about my Audiobookshelf experience here.

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