I had a recent experience of the unfortunate kind — it ended happily, but was touch-and-go for a while.
You see, I managed to destroy my Creative Zen Xtra MP3 player. The Zen Xtra had a headphone jack problem, which seems to have been quite common based on reports I have seen, in which the left channel’s sound went out.
The problem actually goes back to the design of the player. Creative mounted the headphone jack on the motherboard, instead of using an adequately flexible connection for the mechanical connection. Sudden pressure on the headphone jack, such as that applied by the earbud plug when you manage to drop the MP3 player on the car floor, would break the left channel’s connection.
This happened a few times, and I did the soldering fix noted on some web sites. Until one day, when I broke the right channel also… The soldering iron managed to destroy the headphone jack and motherboard (it couldn’t have been me <grin>).
After searching eBay and watching for a while, I found a good condition Zen Xtra that had a bad hard drive. Of course, I had my 60 GB drive from my old one. After careful bidding, I "won" the auction. The seller promptly shipped my new MP3 player and I put my new hard drive in it. It worked! YEA!
My next challenge, was to connect it to my desktop PC. I knew I could connect it. I also dreaded having to use Creative’s dreadful, non-intuitive software to manage the player.
You see, I had never successfully used Creative’s software — I couldn’t figure out how to use it and ended up loading and wiping the drive several times.!
Fortunately, even before I purchased my original Creative Zen Xtra, I had found out about Notmad Explorer from Red Chair Software.
I downloaded the time-limited trial version shortly after purchasing that first Zen Xtra. I quickly loaded it and gave it a try. Three, maybe four, days later (long before the trial expired), I bought my license for Notmad Explorer.
One great thing is that your license includes free updates, too. I’ve lost track of how many updates I’ve received — including major performance increases as well as the occasional bugfix.
Back to this experience, I expected a long delay in getting Notmad Explorer to work. It’s a great product and I wanted to use it. But, I had taken the cheap option ($25 instead of $35) to buy a version restricted to my MP3 player’s "Device Code". The more expensive version can work with multiple devices and multiple different players.
This meant that I needed to receive my new MP3 player, get its Device Code, and then find out the process to get a new activation code for the new player. Since I my new player arrived Friday afternoon, I expected to lose all weekend before I got a response.
Boy, was I surprised! I got quick responses, even over the weekend, from Red Chair Software, the makers of Notmad Explorer.
I went to their web site, found the “I’ve got a different MP3 player now” page, and filled out the form to “deactivate” the old code. Maybe 30 minutes later, I had instructions to take me to the next step. Perhaps an hour after starting, I had received my new activation code and had activated it for my player.
You might not have noticed that I didn’t mention the PC side of Notmad Explorer. The end user license for Notmad Explorer allows me to use it on as many computers as I wish. Doesn’t this encourage piracy? Not at all. The activation code is linked to a specific MP3 player, which means that the PC’s can be unrestricted.
See Notmad Explorer’s feature list and supported MP3 players.
What about iPod owners? Red Chair Software is not affiliated with Creative, but they saw a major need for good software for Creative’s (formerly Creative Labs) MP3 players. Notmad Explorer works only with Creative’s MP3 players.
iPod owners, don’t despair. You can buy Anapod Explorer instead of having to use iTunes. Similarly, users of Rio’s, Dell DJs and Dell Pocket DJs and iRiver’s MP3 players can find Red Chair Software versions for their MP3 players, too.
Changing brands of MP3 players? Red Chair offers a cross-grade discount for a version for your new player. I looked at this in case I decided to buy an iPod to replace my Zen Xtra. I stayed with the Zen Xtra because I particularly liked some of its features.
If I was doing it all over, would I buy Notmad Explorer? You bet I would!