The YH-920 is Dead!
Personally, I've had mixed experiences with the PocketPC version of Windows Media Player since I first encountered this player in my Jornada 540 during the summer of 2000. Suffice it to say that in those days with 20meg CF cards costing more than 1gig CF cards sell for today, it wasn't really a "viable" option for carrying audio content along, so, I stuck with radio and CD players.
Around two years ago, the gift of a tiny 256meg Creative player succeeded in getting me hooked on digital audio and also served as the whip for me to learn and overcome the many frustrations of WMP on the PC. Unfortunately, the Creative player's 256meg storage limit along with terrible battery life made it impractical to use effectively, but the audio urge had taken firm root, and, when I spotted a heavily discounted 20Gig Samsung/Napster YH-920 a year ago, I took the bait.
The YH-920 was basically a good unit which made accessing large amounts of music very simple on the go. It surprised me a bit that the 700+ song tally from our entire CD collection only took up 2.5 gigs of the twenty gig hard drive.
My (very) non technical wife was the YH-920's primary user and I was further surprised that she found the player's controls easy to use and understand. Her tech phobia still runs deep, and while she really enjoyed using it when she did, it would still end up avoided for long periods of time and was only pulled out for road trips.
The news was good... the sound quality was as good as the 920's and even the music "skips" that I hated in WMP on my PDA2k were gone. The Axim was far more robust without a hard drive plus I had previously snagged a "long life" battery for only $20 from a local surplus store which often had Dell items.
As bad as the activesync connection is, syncing media directly to a memory card works great... with a usb 2.0 card reader, it's many times faster and much more reliable, but you need to take control or wmp will run away with the process.
Step one... turn off automatic sync!
Step two... make sure Create/Maintain Folder Hierarchy on device is checked... critical for dealing with playlists.
A year with the Samsung had gotten me pretty comfortable syncing using the PC's Windows Media Player (WMP) but syncing media content through an Activesync connection was not even a remote consideration for me knowing the pain it could cause. However, over the past year I had also discovered that WMP had no problems syncing media files directly to memory cards using a "Card Reader" attached to the PC which made transferring the 250 tunes completely painless.
Further, if you set each card's WMP "sync properties" to "maintain folder structure" the content becomes very managable on the memory card(s) By accident, doing so also set the basis for easily overcoming the mobile WMP's playlist foibles, limits and, as a further bonus, WM5/WMP10's major playlist deficits.
After looking around a bit, my first step was to completely wipe out the totally unmanagable PPC's WMP automatic "playlisting" of all of the WMA tracks on the SD card. I couldn't begin to visualize Rebecca trying to use this unmanagable "dump" of 250+ files from both the memory card and what was in the PPC's main memory.
Back to the Axim, I then took the time to generate individual playlists on the PocketPC for each album using the Mobile Windows Media Player which turned out to be relatively simple due to the sync generating the folder structures by album. When I was finished, I began to realize that the chance of Rebecca finding these generated playlists in WMP's confusing menus and pulldowns was unlikely, plus, the first time she tapped the PPC's WMPlayer's "local content" the tears of frustration would surely flow.
I poked around and found the playlist files I had generated on the PPC were in the main memory "My Documents" folder... could I get her to start from the My Documents folder?
Unlikely, especially since the pressures of this impending trip were building due to unrelated factors. Next thought, generate shortcuts to the playlists stored in "My Documents" so, I went down that road for a while until it occured to me to skip shortcuts completely and simply move the generated playlists themselves into to a start menu subfolder.
An unexpected bonus was discovering that when she began a WMP session using that start menu music folder, the folder remained open in the background, so, tapping the "X" in WMP put the player in the background and would bring her directly back to the music folder. That meant she didn't have to deal with WMP's playlist interface at all... tapping a different playlist in the folder while the previous list was still playing would launch that album's playlist and bring WMP back to the PPC's screen.
Two days before departure and it was time to sit down together and see if the work I had done made sense to her.
In the meantime, I transferred her 800+ address book entries then all of her writing files to the Dell along with Pocket Streets and maps of her destinations and, wonder of wonders, she got into the potential of a PocketPC's capabilities... six years of watching me up to this point had her totally opposed to the concept of using a PDA... am I that bad of an example? Adding insult to injury, the Dell did a much better job of "recognizing" her illegible handwriting than any pda or ppc had achieved with my "easy to read," blocky script.
WMP playlists are, unfortunately, binary and can't be manually edited, but it can save playlists in several other formats including the .asx format which are stored as text files and recognized by the mobile WMP. Once you generate and save the playlist on the PC, open it with any text editor and you will find references to the file locations are "relative" such as;
<Ref href = "..\Queen\Magic.wma"/>
So.... you can then run a global "search and replace" on
...and instantly convert an entire PC WMP playlist to one that works flawlessly using an Axim's SD card. If you have a raft of PC playlist files for content you have transferred to mobile media, advanced text editors such as TextPad will allow global changes on multiple files. Beyond that, utilities such as TextPad's "WildEdit" allow the same on an unlimited number of files. (note! Different PocketPC's use different names for memory cards... the Axim uses "SD Card" where current PocketPC's with a single memory card use "Storage Card")
The first goal was to make the volume easily controllable, so that got assigned to the <Up/Down> keys, which, on the Axim, means that the DPad and the jog button both control the volume.
Next, I changed the <Home> button to launch WMP, but, then, within WMP, futher assigned it to <ScreenToggle> when WMP was active ...WMP not running, press it and WMP launches... then subsequent presses of the same button toggles the screen on/off.
Onward... I assigned <Pause/Play> to the button next door to the <Home> button which launched Notes when WMP was not in use.
Finally, for WMP functions, I set the DPad <Left/Right> to Previous/Next track.
OK, Rebecca's never gonna remember all of that... but this solution was also simple... take a picture of the front of the Axim and add text labels to document each button, both in and out of WMP. Where to put it? I named this Image file "Controls" and placed it in that \windows\start_menu\Music folder with the playlists (see the folder image above) ...she taps it and the picture showing the button labels displays in the default image viewer for easy reference.
I've seen prices on 1 gig SD cards as low as $20 plus the X5 can take CF cards as well, which means that it's feasable to build a 2 gig library of tunes on less than $40 worth of storage plus the size of the cards make it possible to carry additional tunes along with almost no space demands. If you have the bucks, you can come up with around 10 gigs of content on a high capacity CF and SD card... more if you want to deal with the power demands of a CF mini drive.
It's a shame that the Mobile Windows Media Player learning curve and user demands are so high. Third party PocketPC players and playlist utilities help, but ease of use should really be native to the platform. The good news is that the potential is there if you have the time and skills to exploit it.
The YH-920 was really a neat device with 20 gig capacity, built in FM tuner, includes an inline remote as part of the device purchase, allows easy voice recordings as well as the ability to record FM broadcasts directly to MP3 files.
The great thing is that within a couple of minutes, she understood the menu and was accessing her library with no further help from me... wooo, hoooo!!! WON ONE!
fwiw, the time I took to pre-load the device with over three gigs of "her stuff" was also a big part of the gift's success... instant gratification is a great incentive to learn a user interface.
I took a look at Napster, but elected to persue using WMP to populate the device despite some postings on the Internet which indicated that there were some serious limits to using WMP with the YH-920. I was pleased to find that when the WMP quirks are learned, it works great with the YH-920. I ran my initial loads with WMP-9 which tells me that it can be used in place of WMP-10, but installed WMP-10 early in a vain attempt to address the usb problems and am continuing with that version.
While the Napster software does allow working with local MP3 files, the Napster's prime intent is to get the user to signup and use the paid download service. (things do change ;-)
While that in itself is not a bad thing, that intense intent within the interface seemed to be "in my face" every time I ran it, so, I reteated to WMP which wasn't offensive and has the ability to deal with protected paid downloads.
Those considering the current Napster offering of an
downloads" subscription should read the fine print... all
content downloaded during the subscription becomes unusable if the
is ever canceled.
At this writing, I'm a total audio content newbie... everything that we purchased was on CD's and it was a relatively painless process to RIP all of our (legal) CD collection directly to WMA files using Windows Media Player then sync them directly to the device using it's sync interface.
However, a few weeks after doing so, I realized that I had missed the opportunity to easily generate MP3 CD-R's that would be compatible with the several MP3 capable players that had only run regular CD's since we bought them.
Not sure if I would go the MP3 route if I had it to do over again, but it's a consideration and you can manage MP3 content using WMP although you will have to install an MP3 plugin to generate MP3 files using WMP... for example, when transferring files from CD to MP3 format. However, most CD "burner" software includes the ability to generate MP3 files from Audio CD's.
Copy either MP3 or WMA files to the device's \SYSTEM\MUSIC directory using file explorer or other file transfer method. After the files are transferred, run the "Recovery Utility" while still connected and it will regenerate the contents index on the device.
This is not an ideal way to proceed... using WMP or Napster software, the index is maintained as content is added or removed from the player which is fast and efficient. Once the device has a content in excess of a few gigs, the index rebuild will take hours and probably overnight if it is near capacity.
It looks as if Audible has completely dropped YH-920 support... I
and accessed Audible content when the device was new, but, following
queries, looked again and was unable to access the player several
I also had the unusal experience of a knowledgable person at Best Buy who pointed out that the connector that is used by the player and phone is "keyed" differently by notches on the connector, but that the Dynex trimed the entire width of the connector so it allows it to be connected to any device. The Dynex package indicates that the connector is the same for all "LG" phones (PM325, VX3200, VX4700, VX6100, VX7000 and VX8000)
The only negative is that only the power pins were populated making it impossible to rewire the connector for other 920 purposes.
Of course, the Dynex was modified within a day. It was then a simple matter to add an inline 4mm jack to a spare mini connector which now allows me to power the 920 with any of the many 5vdc ac and automotive adapters that use this fairly standard barrel power connector. These 4mm inline jacks are available from Altex part# 262...suggest calling the San Antonio Store.
I'm looking forward to finding a source of these connectors which are fully populated as, when I do, I expect to find audio on the connector pins in addition to usb and power, so it will then be possible to rig some "single connect" options for both the car and other amps at home or office.
According to Samsung Tech Support, the USB problem is entirely due to Windows XP SP2. Samsung tech support claimed that XP-SP2 was buggy and instructed me to revert my PC back to XP-SP1 in order to use the player...
.....Rrrriiiigggght!!! ...but they were actually serious!!!
(fwiw I declined and I would advise everyone that uninstalling XP's SP2 is a very bad idea!)
The device initially connects without any apparent problem using the the drivers from the CD, which _are_ (as of 2/15/05) the latest version availabe, but watching the device manager, you can see that the connect process quickly begins to "cycle" eventually "failing" after about 5 minutes (yellow "!" w/ the device manager error message "device cannot start... code 10") This occured during most, but not all of my connect sessions.
I was at least able to sync after multiple tries, etc, but still received "database error" messages on almost every connect, culminating with the loss of the "library menu information"
On the hunch that the drivers might work connected with a Samsung generated app, I connected, and, immediately after the usb "connection boings" started the Samsung "recovery utility" (Note!!! Don't start any of the "recovery" options)
Having that utility running satisfied and cured the
connection issues... I then simply minimized the recovery utility to
task bar and left it there. Have had zero problems since
the above steps on connect.
Place a shortcut for the YH-920 "Recovery Utility" on the desktop. "C:\Program Files\Samsung\YH-920\Utility\RecoveryUtility.exe"
Connect the YH-920 using the USB cable.
Wait for the usb "Connection Boings"
Start the "Recovery Utility" (The utility has to be started after the usb connection is made for it to remain active)
Then simply minimize the utility and leave it running on the task bar. (You can also set the shortcut's "RUN" to "Minimized")
Since the faulty Samsung driver code now sees that a "device connection" has been made with an "acceptable" application, the USB connection will remain stable as long as the Samsung Utility remains running.
After the first connect, you can then leave WMP, Napster and Audbile loaded between connects. If they are opened on the initial connect, the chance exists for a conflict to arise if the "database must be rebuilt"
In case you want to check for updates, click here for the Samsung driver site... (Very Broke the last time I looked)
When downloaded and run, this program both removes the existing setup and runs a re-install... so, it must be run twice which it does not prompt you to do.
However! While the above download appears to have addressed the USB "connect cycling" "safely disconnecting" seems to be a new problem that appeared after this "fix"
WMP has no "Disconnect Device" option and the
"Safely Disconnect" icon does not allow the device to disconnect after
downloading even if WMP is closed.
If Samsung does eventually come up with downloadable drivers that work, Please Notify Me and I will post that info here as well as a direct link to the new drivers.
Using File Explorer, I determined that the songs were still there, they just couldn't be seen or played from the device menu.
I was a few seconds away from finding the receipt and returning the device for a full refund when I took a look and found the Samsung YH-920 "Recovery Utility" on the XP Start Menu. The utility took a long time (see above) to do it's job, but when it finished all the previous content was again visible on the device menus and in the WMP device sync window.
The problem became apparent to me when I began a sync session about a week after loading just under three gigs of content on the first pass and wanted to add a single CD's contents.
Under the "Sync" tab, I selected "all content" and watched as the entire library was reloaded rather than just the additional albums that I had unearthed following the first load.
A few days later, I had seven more albums to load, so I started looking for a way to add only those rips rather than sit through a complete reload. Twasn't easy... took most of the day to figure out what appears to be the only "manual" method... I have not had the guts to select "automatic sync" for a 20 gig device, so, if you feel the same, here's the drill
Select "All Music"
...the "track display" pane opens
Add the "date created" column to track display window by <right-clicking> on a column header... you will probably have to click "more"
Drag the "date created" column header so that it's visible in the pane each time it's open.
<click> on "date created" column header to sort the list by the date you ripped the files to the library.
Find and <click> first "date created" entry following the date of the last sync
Scroll down and <shift-click> on most recent "date created" entry.
<drag> highlighted items to sync list column
switch to "Sync" tab
<click> top of checkbox column to select all entries in the new sync list.
Select the album to be modified
Select all tracks you wish to modify with the same information
<right-click> on the selection
Select "Advanced Tag Editor"
You can also do this directly on the WMA files themselves
"open containing folder"
select all files you want to have the same info
right-click on file
edit the field(s)
Was curious, so I just ran a file explorer "file search" under My Music entering the artist's name in the "containing text" field and it found all the albums for that artist.
within the "search results" field, you can sort the files by date or folder to group them according to your needs, then highlight related files and do a properties edit to change all the selected files info at once.
The folders on the device are "Hidden" but they are accessable if file explorer is set to show hidden and system files, plus, the following was obtained by accessing the player from the CMD dos prompt.
HDD, System\MUSIC\After the
HDD, System\MUSIC\Beating Drums.wma
HDD, System\MUSIC\Like a Breath of Air.wma
Now... the obvious question is, what's gonna happen if two different albums have a track with the same name as all the music on the 920 is dumped into this single MUSIC directory.
Back to generating your own playlists. WPL playlists generated by WMP are in a modified html format and on first look, they seem to be incompatible with the 920 and too complex to extract a simple list out of a WMP generated list.
You can, however, save a playlist as an "M3U" file which generates a simple playlist in the format;
..\Original Soundtrack\Winged Migration\Beating Drums.wma
Using an advanced text editor, you can run a search and replace to convert it to a PLP format as above including the pointer to the HDD, System\MUSIC\ directory. fwiw, I use TextPad and WildEdit for these needs.
Download this zip file (revised 8-14-05) which includes the executable along with the source code. The zip file contains Bryan's contact information if you would like to thank him directly for a great utility.
The program will ask for a directory where the playlist is located and then the name of the playlist file. Then it will create the plp playlist file in that same directory.
Bryan went overboard and also generated (on 9/30/05) a Windows GUI version.
Smugly, I looked for a mistake and could find none, then, to prove it, I generated a playlist of my own ...and it failed...
Five hours later, I pasted the entire contents of the new playlist that wouldn't work into the test playlist that worked and it worked! Damm...
I then ran a "file compare" using TextPad and it reported "FILES IDENTICAL" ...which I knew was a lie... then as I stared at the lie, I notieced that the file sizes were different... one exactly twice as large as the other. Want to know more about this, If you open a unicode file with a binary editor, you will see a "null" between each ascii character that is not there in the same file saved in ascii.
Since it is now obvious that that the 920 device will only process files in "Unicode" you will have to assure that playlists are stored in unicode... check your text editor for a character option when saving... if unicode is not an option, TextPad can create unicode files.
Most people probably find a desired album by using Library --> Albums --> Some Album. Using that method, the tracks end up sorted alphabetically and they play in that order.
If, however, you navigate to an album using
--> Artists--> Some Artist --> Some Album, the album tracks
by track number!
During my wait for the "official" replacement, I found a Female USB A to Female Mini B 5-pin Adapter (Part# 11-09-009 $3.95) adapter. This coupled with a USB "male A to male A" adapter works as a replacement for a total cost of around $6.
Unfortunately, I am no longer in a postition to offer custom help with individual problems... I havn't worked with the unit other than to continue to sync for over six months and have forgotten many of the details posted here.
The key points are...
You MUST deal with the USB connect problems!
Win9x NOT supported
New Drivers DON'T help.
New Device Software Creates more problems and may remove functionality
If you have new information, let me know and I will post it here.
If you want to leave a comment, let me know.so, let me know.
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