Lexar LDP-600

I got the Lexar LDP-600 that I bought on eBay when I thought the mobiBLU was irreparable. I haven’t given it a total shakedown, but I can say right now that the interface on this thing is so hilariously bad that I kind of like it. It’s the Monty Python of UIs. Nothing is going to work in any reasonable fashion, so might as well give in and go with the dada.

Here’s some examples. It has 256M of built-in memory, and takes an SD card. You have to go into a configuration memory to tell it which memory to make active. That takes about 5 clicks on various controls to do. It doesn’t save this permanently, so every single time it powers down you will have to repeat this process. If you store your audio files in folders, it doesn’t recognize them so everything must be in the root of the card or memory. Once you do that, I can’t ascertain what sort of ordering it does, but out of 18 files, Sun0130.mp3 is 1st, and Sun0200.mp3 is 15th. Right on! Doing things alphabetically or even coherently is old school, man! Nowadays we are all about the inscrutable and non-deterministic. I might say that this interface blows donkey dick, but that’s using the lens of this “post-modernism” and “desire for things to work.” How passe. ¡Viva el reproductor loco!

Now I’m wondering how hard it would be to port RockBox firmware to this ridiculous thing. Failing that, it is basically unusable except as a device to break someone’s will. The irony is that the FM transmitter works pretty well, better than I was expecting. It is kind of beside the point if I can’t make it play anything in any reasonable fashion.

(Note, I’m trying on a Bruce Sterling-esque blogging voice of enjoying things more the worse they suck. How’m I doing?)

Update: Here’s someone with the identical experience as me.

Update #2: There actually is a firmware update for this thing hidden on the Lexar site. Since it is not actually a driver I didn’t think to look under “Drivers”, and since the LDP 600 isn’t listed in support I assumed there was nothing available. I had to find out from a CNET review of the firmware update that it was available. I don’t take back everything now, but this thing is actually usable with the 1.07 firmware, and it does things like default to using the SD card when one is inserted, remembers your settings across power cycles and other stuff that should be the bare minimum (and really should have been done before they ever shipped this thing.)

Update #3: I somehow Kiboed Bruce Sterling into commenting on this post. Well, either him or a reasonable facsimile – one never knows in this kind of thing. Had I ever dreamed that such a cheezy technique would actually work, I’d have tried it years ago. (Actually, the IP address is from sbb.co.yu so I think the question of provenance is settled. Welcome, the Real Brother Bruce. A Texan is haunting the specters. )

23 Replies to “Lexar LDP-600”

  1. I’m really tired of being able to play stuff in the order I want and just have my ipod work. I have to get me one of these. Brain Age on my DS Lite just doesn’t exercise my brain enough any more. This UI sounds like the perfect mental challenge. Where do I sign up?

  2. There you go, that’s the way to get into it! As Jason Fried says, “embrace your constraints”. I think as my workaround, I’m just not going to put anything on it that requires multiple files to be in sync, like the WREK shows or any multiple part interview that needs to go in a certain order. I’ll just put certain subsets of stuff on there.

    But, this is a ridiculous device. Now I see why they are going for $30-50 on eBay, despite the fact that on paper it has pretty good specs. You can’t actually excercise the specs because the UI is so silly.

  3. hummmm – so obviously i’m wimping out by utilizing my nano, though i do also put podcasts on my cellphone and psp, which is a little more challenging 😉

  4. I just bought some super glue for my muvo. The corner cracked when I dropped it. It still works fine though.

  5. I’ve learned to use my LDP-600 with all the finery of a butterfly knife fighter. I send my deepest empathy. Here are some bizarre things I have learned along the way.

    Files are organized partly by the modify date in the filesystem info. So, the re-ordering can happen from overlapping or conflicting timestamps on files.

    How do you fix this? Buy an IPod, or find a utiliy to tweak the timestamps.

    I’ve taken two approaches to managing files:

    Folderlogging – Make Rock, R&B, World & Satan folders; stuff ’em with music and use rocker-button jujitsu to jump across them (without looking).
    Something like:
    HOLD right button DWN 2secs
    UP/DWN left button
    Left Button DWN+DWN
    Listen…
    hmmm…
    Rinse repeat. (Kind of like the Old Nintendo cheat codes)

    Second, and probably a chance for an armchair programmer to save us all, a simple playlist app that lets you organize files in an explorer window, and automagically renames them for sequenced playback. I liken it to the way CD burn apps let you orgaanize songs before burning.

    Wow, I should stop. When you’ve walked a mile with the LDP-600 you’ve got baggage to vent.

    Upsides – seamless playback. I’ve listened to 20 minute songs split into 4 minute segements and never heard a stutter between them. Criminals fear it, and it’s cheap headphones as the vampire to garlic. You are safe. You can also change the color of the screen to match your level of disgust.

    My judgment on this and other cheap MP3 players is that they woefullly forget that people like distinct blocks of music. If this thing jumped through folders at a button press. It would at least emulate changing radio stations.

  6. How can I do firmware update? I’ve got ZIP file (1.07) from Lexar web site that had one .rom file inside with no instructions whatsoever.
    Neither of 2 manuals (PDF files also from lexar.com) says anything about this upgrade process.
    I’ve bought it cheap – and it’s not worth even that small amount.

  7. As I understand you need to have the unit on and connected to your computer. Use windows explorer to access in and look at the root folder. What I read is that the rom file is copied to this root folder. Power the unit down and back up and it is supposed to switch over to the new version. Go to Lexar on the support page and on the left side is live support. Click on that and chat with a person directly on line. Ask your questions and follow their directions. Good luck.

  8. That’s exactly how it updates. The player is complete garbage w/o the frimware update. I’d keep a copy of it stored away, even on the unit, just in case Lexar decides to completely stop supporting this thing. So, to recap:

    Copy firmware to top-most directory
    unzip ROM file
    **Use Safe Removal, or eject to disconnect unit.**
    restart player
    Feel a little less cheated.

    Here’s another BigEndian tip for this thing: When you buy an external SD card, and you run v1.07, you can eject and re-insert the card for it to load that those songs. It’s a little faster than rocker-button boxing to change from internal and external storage.

  9. Hey, thanks for all the info on the LDP-600.

    I have a challenge to the rest of you…I still run 98se and have trouble powering the LDP thru the USB cable. There is no ability to “safely remove device” like there is in Win XP… Anyone have ideas?

    Also, is there a powercable on the market that will take household current and feed it thru a USB without having to use a computer? The LDP is always running out of juice when away from a computer.

  10. Lexar has posted a software update for the LDP600- version 1.07, which addresses some of the problems mentioned in these posts.

  11. Shelton, I’d check out what version I have but my LDP 600 won’t charge and won’t power up, doesn’t respond after being reset and so on. What a piece of shit.

  12. Thanks for this. I updated the firmware to v1.07 when that came out, but lost the downloaded file somewhere in the archives. The on-off button on my LDP-600 has ceased to function, it’s not the switch because I’ve swapped them over. My last hope is re-blowing the firmware.

    Thanks to your link to the hidden drivers page on the Lexar site I can give that a try.

    I bought mine for 32 GBP in July 2005. Finding an equivalent one now for a similar price is not easy – the cheaper ones all seem to use AAA batteries, and don’t take SD cards. Despite the crappy interface it’s been a good device.

  13. Nope. That didn’t work. I can turn it on by connecting and removing the USB cable, but that damn play switch just refuses to work. Any ideas anyone?

  14. This player is the worst player regarding battery power. It goes down so quickly and then you need A COMPUTER TO CHARGE IT. Man!!! YOU HAVE TO CARRY A LAPTOP TP CHARGE AN MP3 PLAYER – WHAT AN IRONY!!!! LEXAR SUCKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! THEY SHOULD BUY BACK ALL THEIR LDP PLAYER IF THEY EVER WANT THEIR DIGNITY BACK.

  15. I’ve got the same on/off button problem reported by Bryan. Also charging seems to be … confused. It does not charge when plugged into the USB cable and acting as an external drive. When I disconnect the device (using “remove safely”, not physically disconnecting) the indicator /sometimes/ shows charging, but the Lexar will shutdown after a minute or so, and then it doesn’t charge any more. Right now I’ve got it playing a song on a/b repeat to keep it from shutting down to see if that helps…
    Overall I’ve been happy with this player, even if the interface is … inconsistant (sometimes the left rocker for select, other times the right … sheesh!)

  16. I dont know what all the fuss is about. I find mine to be fairly easy to use, am currently using 2GB SD cards to swap out music, and am going to see if it can read a 4GB card as well. It has a built in FM transmitter which we (I bought them for my whole family)find particularly useful on long trips or trips in the mountains where radio stations change every 1.5 miles or so. The 1.07 firmware is a must. All in all, for the price, it is quite a deal. I dont know of any other player out there that has this many features rolled in to one small unit. Cheer up… you could be stuck with an iPod.

  17. Guys, guys,

    Please. This player is a very good one. They have loose solder on the IC below. One of the chips is loose. Open it and fix it. Battery lasts forever. I have been using it for 3 years. No problem.
    I worked for Apple and am excited by Steve’s genius but went ahead and bought this state-of-art. Too bad they don’t produce them anymore.

  18. I got one at a clearance sale in a local store for less than the eBay prices – already had 1.07 installed. I did find the UI nonintuitive at first, finding myself executing the incorrect operations numerous times. However, after a few go-rounds I really like all the features and find it easy to use now. I don’t know why they include an antenna when the earbud wires work better than the included antenna. The file ordering is indeed the time stamp of the file transfer. I reordered mine by copying them to a folder on my computer and then transferring them back to the player in the order I wanted. Finally, on battery life, I thought that it was short because the display moves down from full to one bar short of full within the first hour. When my digital camera does this it only has a short while left, so I thought that would be the same for this player. I found myself recharging it every couple of hours because I was programmed to do so when only a couple of bars are left. However, the other day I decided to just let it play until it ran down. 12 hours later it had zero bars left in the display and was still playing, even with using the FM transmitter function. Now I wish my nice digital camera battery display worked like this – just because you see the bars going down doesn’t mean it is about to go dead on you. Also, I am able to charge it through my home AC or car using one of the USB chargers you can get cheap off eBay. It charges much faster with these than it does through my computer.

  19. I have a silver non-transmitter version and have been using it fairly heavily for a couple of years now (my Dad gave it to me after a cheap battery I bought on eBay leaked and destroyed my mp3 player also from eBay in less than a week.

    I bought a 1GB SD card as that was the maximum capacity stated on the website and possibly in the “manual” (more of a quick start guide).
    My main gripes with it are the slow fast forward speed as I listen to mixes and podcasts, and how it loses its place around once every 5 startups (very annoying if you’re 40 minutes into an 80 minute podcast). Also, it’s easy to accidentally skip to the next track wheh fast forwarding (which has elicited many a Mr Skinner-style “noooo” knowing that I’ll have to spend minutes rewinding to regain my place).

    For me the biggest plus is that it has a Li-ion battery, I hate to think of how many AAA’s I would have gone through keeping my original player going. I have been surprised to learn that most other rechargeable players have at least twice the battery life. I bought a car USB charger which helps, especially when travelling.

  20. i adore my ldp- 600 and wish that lexar would have never stopped making them. i love the radio transmitter and ive never liked the ipod way of organizing anyway. i put albums and music in thier folder and away i go. i think the UI leaves a bit to be desired but then again you cant have everything.

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