Linux MP3 player for my car!

April 25, 2007


I just discovered something that is absolutely too cool.


I was taking an absolutely insanely long drive (4+ hours there, and 4+ hours back) and I like to have listening material to help keep me awake and alert.  I listen to my share of talk radio and music on the radio, but who doesn’t like listening to their own stuff?  This is probably why the iPod is such a big deal.


For the record, I have a cassette deck in my truck.  That was intentio0nal because at the time I had many more cassettes than CDs.  I later bought an adapter to play CDs.


So I began thinking about this long drive and decided I might try to use my Zaurus.  And lo and behold, the same adapter that works with the CD works with the Zaurus! 


The Zaurus has an Mp3 player built in that is actually pretty nice.  This PDA was seriously way ahead of its time as I’m still discovering things about it and its capabilities.  What makes this such a nifty thing beyond the CD adapter parts fitting it, is that the Zaurus has 2 expansion slots for SD and CF flash drives.  So as the capacity of flash drives increase, so does the capabilities of the Zaurus as an Mp3 player.  I had stored only about 25 songs, not fully knowing if it would work before I had to leave. 


So basically I can store an entire CD collection on flash drives and then select a play list before the trip for hours of DRM-free music.  How cool is that?  And it can be set up to play in order or randomly shuffle.


I’m looking for a screen shot of the Zaurus mp3 player but haven’t found one.  One very nice feature of this is that the buttons on the touch screen are large enough that you can actually operate the player without the stylus which is mighty handy while driving.


Too bad the Zaurus can only be bought on eBay nowadays, but it usually still fetches a respectable price of around $200 or so.  Not too many other 5 year-old technology devices are still holding that sort of  value, and this could be one of the reasons why the Zaurus continues to have some small popularity.  I still have not seen anything that compares to it in the way of ability or features.  About the only downside is the lack of RAM (mine only has 32 mb) which makes it a bit sluggish on some applications like pdf files.  I absolutely love having having the flash card slots and can’t figure out why more devices don’t have them. 


One other downside that I may or may have no mentioned before is the limited battery life.  A lot depends on the brightness of the LCD screen, but I max out at a little over 3 hours on the lowest brightness.  I generally prefer to have it plugged in so  I can have the screen as bright as I like.  With the mp3 feature, the screen isn’t as much of an issue but playing might.  Does volume figure into the power drain on an mp3 player?


I admit I’m way behind the curve on the whole mp3 music thing.  I was still using 8 tracks when cassettes were all the rage and I got a cheap adapter for that.  (Yeah, a bunch of you are “what’s an 8 track?) I finally get a cassette player and now everyone likes CDs.  However my being a bit slow on the uptake has worked in my favor as I’m unaware of any optical adapters that make a CD play an iPod.  However, if you have a cassette player in your car it might be worth your while to get a CD adapter and see if it works with your iPod.  I make no claims as to the quality or loudness of the output, but am just pointing out that this is doable.  Basically, if it uses a standard headphone jack, it should work.




One comment

  1. those generic mp3 players that are made in china are really cheap but i still prefer to use my ipod *~”

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