"Good - But Firmware Issue Exists w/512 Micro"3.5 starson by adkmike
Pros: Small, lightweight, semi-intuitive, "good enough" sound, marries MP# players and USB disk drives
Cons: No directions, firmware issue
Summary: There is a compatability issue with the most recently released 512 mb Sandisk Cruzer Micro USB drives. The older 512 Micro drives (ie. SN starting with 0120) work just fine with the MP3 Companion - I've validated this. If you have a newer 512mb Micro drive like me (SN starting with AX), the drive is incompatible with the MP3 Companion. According to Sandisk tech support, the issue was first identified during the week of March 20th, 2005. The engineering team believes it's a firmware issue on the Cruzer, and is working the issue - eta of 1 month.
You'll know if you have that compatability issue because you'll see the message "Insert Cruzer Micro" scrolling across the screen even though you've already inserted it.
I did get it to work with a 256MB micro. Curiously enough, I also got it to work fine with my 512MB Cruzer Mini. (I've read that this is possible, but burns batteries.)
Other than that... I agree that the unit "feels" cheap, but it seems to work fine. The sound is clear, but bass is a little weak - which isn't an issue for me since I use it while skiing, cycling, roller blading... (Maybe better headphones may fix that, I don't know.) The UI is reasonably intuitive. It's definitely not iPod caliber - it's not supposed to be - but it hasn't hindered my ability to listen to music.
The lack of directions was frustrating. It drove me nuts. To turn it on... Press the play button for several seconds, and wait for the power bar to finish loading. To turn off, do the same thing. Then you'll have to play with it for a bit to figure it out.
I *LOVE* the fact that I can use the usb disk for other data storage/transport too.
So my two cents are... If you're looking for audiophile quality, look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for something that's "good enough" to play tunes while cycling, skiing, or working out, and you don't need perfect sound replication, this little unit might work.