20050826

Digital Speech Players

This is a sort of request for comments, although I doubt I'll get much useful feedback because you are all idiots. Especially all the people from a certain software company who have come here after searching for "doing difficult things well" (I have access logs, and your host names are hardly cryptic).

Anyway, Digital Music Players are all the rage, but I want a digital speech player. That is, everyone goes on about all the great music based features in these players (like, er, they can play all your music. In a random order!), but I don't hear much about features that would suit people who want to listen to audiobooks or other spoken word content. For example, I'd like to see features like:

  • separation between music and speech content. If I have both on a player, I don't want to go into "shuffle/random" mode, and go from listening to a 3 minute pop song into a 30 minute recording of chapter 7 of some book. Yes, there's usually a skip button, but if you have a lot of spoken word stuff you don't want to be doing this all the time.
  • bookmarking or other easy to use feature that remembers where you got to in a particular file if you have to stop it or interrupt your listening. At least if you switch it off, it should be able to resume from where you were when you switch it on again.
  • easy access within a file. It'd be nice to fast-forward 20 minutes into a file without having to hold down a forward button for two minutes. Remember, this is all digital, so random access within files is trivially possible; I want something that doesn't pretend it's a tape player when you want to find something within a recording.
  • good management of heard/unheard material. When listening to several audiobooks, you'd like it to remember which chapters you've heard in each, and which you haven't. Either by noting which ones you have reached the end of, or allowing you to mark files as "heard". When you have a few hundred files, this will make listening to stuff somewhat easier.

So, my challenge is for recommendations of hard drive based audio players which have these features or comparable ones. Through careful questioning of my capped iPod controlled friends, it seems like the little white player falls very short on many of these criteria without significant amounts of messing around with playlist options. So, any better suggestions?

2 comments:

Dave said...

I've got an iRiver H120, with RockBox duel booting on it.

I tend to use RockBox for listening to music, since it is a piece of piss to create, and save, play lists on the player, of all the sub-directories you're interested in, and set it to shuffle.

I use iRiver for audio as it has study mode which allows you to jump forward through the track at a set number of seconds/mins.

Both remember where you where in a track when you turn it off.

I've not tried to play GameBoy Roms on there but apparently you can.

Matt said...

I think most of them do. Gen4 iPods do 1, 3, 4 and the latter part of 2 - and most manufacturers treat the iPod feature set as a baseline to improve upon, so you're probably in luck.