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What's the best player for Audiobooks?

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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 2:25:47 PM PST
Thanks Nicki and UCD Neuroscientist. The speaker is not a deal killer but the bookmarking problem might be since audiobooks will be important to me. Would you give me more detail about the navigation issue with Samsung other than the touch screen vs buttons. I know little about podcast but I am intrigued.


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 2:39:04 PM PST
I find it very difficult to move around in the menu system on the Samsung because of the way the menus are organized and also because my fingers tend to slip on the touch screen, causing wrong entries. This does not happen on the Zen, which, by the way, has a much more information rich screen. The Samsung doesn't provide enough of the metadata on podcasts (probably also an issue with audio book tracks) so that it is hard to know which track is which.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 5:07:49 PM PST
Nicki says:
UCD Neuroscientist

Can you help me with the bookmarks on the Zen V plus. I know you have to hold down the button on the right side until the correct bookmarking menu comes up..but usually I get the regular menu and then the player loses my place. I can't figure out how to get the bookmarking menu to come each time that I want is very frustrating. I have the worst time with the buttons..and the directions ( even from their website) don't give very good instructions on how to navigate around the player


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 5:11:35 PM PST
TomBrooklyn says:
Hi Nicky,
Could you explain how the Zen Micro bookmarking is different from the Zen and what makes it easier to use?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 5:20:46 PM PST
Nicki says:
The Micro Zen I had went easily to bookmarking and I never goofed it up. The Zen V plus is a hit or miss for me. I have a 50-50 chance of going to the correct menu and when I don't..I lose my place in the audio book. You press this button thing on the right side and hold it for a few seconds. Sometimes the correct bookmarking menu comes up but sometimes the regular menu comes up. I can't figure out how to get the bookmarking menu each time. It is probably the I hope someone on here can tell me how to always get the bookmark menu to show up.


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 5:31:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2008, 5:35:14 PM PST
Wanda E. says:
Hi Nicki,

Sorry to butt in, since your question was for UCD Neuro, but I've had the same problem with my zen v of getting the regular menu when I try to select the bookmarking menu. When this happens I select 'Now Playing' from the regular menu which takes me back and I try again. It takes a pretty firm squeeze to get the bookmarking menu instead of the regular menu. And Tom, there is only one menu on the Zen microphoto and it includes the bookmarking option. So , with the micro, you don't have the frustration of pulling up the wrong menu when you press the lower right corner. I'd like to know how the bookmarking option is accessed in the new zen as I'm consdiering buying a new player soon. My zen v's battery isn't holding a charge for very long and the insignia player I replaced it with won't track longer (18:12 plus) netlibrary files. I'm cautious about using the microphoto when I'm doing chores and listening to audiobooks because it's a HD player and one drop could finish it off.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 5:37:51 PM PST
Nicki says:
Wanda.. thank you...thank you... I'll try that..does yours freeze up when you try to find your place again?? That really frosts me!!! I keep thinking there has to be a way to always get to the bookmark menu..I hold that button down really hard but it still doesn't come up every time. All I want is an mp3 player that bookmarks every time I want it to. What new Zen are you looking at?


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 6:53:43 PM PST
Hi Nicki:

I am also responding to your question about bookmarking on the Zen V. I had posted this on another Amazon discussion about MP3 players with bookmarking and good battery life, but I am copying it here for the benefit of the larger number following this discussion:

"I think that the Creative Zen V-plus is a pretty good choice for audiobooks. I have the 4 GB version.

On the plus side, you can set 10 bookmarks, so there is no problem listening to several books and music at the same time. Also, if you power down while it is playing it will return to the same spot on power-up, without setting a bookmark. It's not expensive, and by the time the battery dies, there will probably be a better model for less money. There is plenty of space; I have 5 books and 7 music cds on mine and it is only 1/3 full. It's small and lightweight.

On the minus side, I wish it would return to the same spot if powered down while paused. Instead, it returns to the start of the track.

Also, you need to remember how to set a bookmark, and it's not really intuitive. You have to press and hold the backarrrow button until a menu appears. I think the player would be improved by a dedicated bookmark button.

To get around the short playtime (just a few hours) and increase the life of the non-replaceable battery. I bought a Boostaroo at Radio Shack. It takes 2 AA batteries, and it doubles the playtime you get without recharging. It should also double the useful life of the player.

Once you get used to it, you will find it to be a good player for audiobooks."

I'm not sure why your player is giving you trouble, but I have the following pointers about the Zen that may help.

Never pause the player before setting a bookmark or shutting it off. To shut it off, just slide down the power switch with the player running until the "shutting down" message appears. When you turn the player on again, it will resume where you left off. If you pause before powerdown, it will revert to the beginning of that file.

The same goes for setting a bookmark. Leave it playing and just hold down the backarrow button in the lower right hand corner of the player until the Bookmarking menu appears. You can always rewind a little from the bookmark when you resume.

In the year I have had my Zen V, I have only had to reset it with a paper clip twice. I think that is because I have gotten the hang of powering down and setting bookmarks, so I seldom have to fast forward or rewind for very long. Rewinding and fast forwarding through more that a few minutes of a file seems to be what makes it lock up and require a reset. Maybe updating the firmware will solve this problem also.

The Boostaroo works with any player that uses the standard mini headphone jack. When using the Zen V in my Honda Civic (the radio has an audio-in cable), I use the Boostaroo, set the radio volume all the way up, and then turn the volume down on the Zen until the level is right. That way I get many hours on one charge. The Boostaroo will also power my sound-cancelling headphones so I can listen while snowblowing or leafblowing.

I get most of my books for free from the public library as OverDrive books, by downloading them off the internet. I have also gotten some through, and have converted a few audiobooks from CD to MP3 files. I like OverDrive the best, and they add new books faster than I can listen to them.

Let me know if you want to try a firmware update, and I'll do some research and post instructions.

Dave Marinelli

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 7:05:47 PM PST
Nicki says:
Great post Dave...With the bookmarking..I hold down the right side button for several seconds but only occasionally does the bookmark menu come up. If it doesn't I end up losing my place in the seems to go to pause and then when I turn it off and then on again..I am no where near where I stopped. When the bookmarking works..I am a happy camper..but many times the regular menu comes up instead.
Wanda said to press ~now playing~ and try again. I will try that trick. Overdrive is great. I have access to several libraries and they all have different audio book listening is the best!!


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2008, 8:07:53 PM PST
Hi Nicki:
I tried to get my Zen V to do what yours does and here is what happened:
When I press and hold the backarrow button for about one second I get the menu that looks like this:
Seek To
Set Bookmark

When I press the backarrow button for less than a second, I get the menu that looks like this:

Music Library

If you are getting this second menu even though you are pressing and holding the button for more than a second or so, I would guess that you have a bad electrical connection in the button, and it is not making contact long enough to bring up the correct (first) menu.
There doesn't seem to be any way to open the player and repair it, and with what service costs, you would be better off getting a whole new unit if it is out of warranty.

Have you tried having someone else push the button? Maybe it is related to how firmly you are pushing? You might just need to lean on it harder.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2008, 4:38:59 PM PST
J. Coffey says:
I have just purchased a Zen V Plus 2G to listen to audiobooks. It has taken me a couple of weeks to easily maneuver through books. I'm reading Follets Pillars of the Earth which is HUGE. I still haven't figured out how to fast forward through the tracks. I use the bookmarking feature Occasionally, I push something inadvertantly (or fall asleep while listening) and can easily get back to the track ....BUT have to listen to the whole track again to find my place. I know there must be an easier way. I'm 60 and this is my first MP3 player. Can anyone help me figure this little problem out. Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2008, 5:23:07 PM PST
Nicki says:
Wasn't Pillars GREAT!! The reader was really wonderful. I have Follet's latest book on audio but still haven't started it. The problem with the Zen is trying to fast forward. You can either press that little knob to the right and go that way..or press the forward deal on the front right. The problem is that the Zen freezes when I try to fast forward and you have to poke a pin in the reset button to get it working again

I have the Zen V Plus also..and I have trouble with the bookmarking...argh Makes me mad when I can't get the bookmark menu to work.

Try the things I am telling you about and if you don't have to fast forward too will work. Maybe someone else will have a better explanation for you too


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2008, 6:02:55 PM PST
The little black button in the middle of the green disk is like a joystick. I think they call it a thumbstick because you can manipulate it with a thumb. As you probably already know, you can push it up or down to navigate through menu selections or push it in to select a menu choice. As Nicki pointed out, if your book is playing, you can hold it to the right to fast forward, and hold it to the left to fast rewind. Your place in the track will be indicated by both the graphic timeline and the elapsed time and remaining time counters on the lower edge of the screen.

Hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2008, 6:58:36 PM PST
I am listening to Pillars now on my SanDisk Sansa Clip. Very straight forward little player. Works perfectly with Overdrive. Once I did the firmware update it has fast forwarded perfectly and remembers where I "paused" every time. For the money, about $35 for the 1GB, it has worked wonderfully. I love the clip. It has an FM tuner that works great and a record feature that I have not used yet. Pillars is a FANTASTIC listen.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2008, 9:35:35 AM PST
I've been getting mp3 players and returning them like crazy because they do not have what I want.

What I need for audiobooks.

1.) Advanced type of bookmarking - I got the Creative Zen V Plus, it could bookmark the EXACT point I left off in the file. However, if I was 12 files into a 24 file audiobook, it would not play the next file (file 13). This was FRUSTRATING.

2.)Play the songs/audio files via Artist/Album/Title. Again, my Zen V Plus, ordered everything by Title. So if I had 12 folders (Disk 1, Disk 2, etc). It would play Track1 of Disk 1, Track 1 of Disk 2, Track 1 of Disk 3, etc etc. I also like my music played a Artist then album, but if I selected to play all songs for an Artist, it loaded all the songs alphabetically so the albums were mixed up.

Does anyone know of a player that handles these two issues? I'm currently looking at the Cowon D2. It implies that it can pick up the next file after a bookmark, but I'm not sure. So if I book mark an hour long track (suck as track 6), then I want track 7 to play immediately afterwards

And does it keep the Artist/Albums straight and not sort by ONLY song Title.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2008, 3:12:16 PM PST
Brian et al,
Back from my trip to Japan. Great trip, and the Samsung filled the bill admirably. I got used to the touch screen in no time. To save hassles, I learned to make all my settings, then put the top slider on Hold when I put it in my pocket during a flight, thus preventing any changes in settings.

The battery lasted a LONG time, though not through the entire 23 hours of flying. I plugged the earphones into the airline music system for part of the time for music, saving the battery for my books. The bookmarking was flawless and I got used to setting it fairly regularly if I was afraid I'd fall asleep and lose my place! The fast forward and return settings were easy and accurate.

The FM radio has settings for Japan, so I enjoyed listening to local radio every morning while I got dressed. The first morning, I guess I hit an American "oldies" station, as I awoke to Elvis Presley singing "Love Me Tender." Not exactly what I expected! This player has a record feature, so I recorded some J-Pop music and a morning talk show, which I think I can load into WMA and maybe use as background when I put my slideshow together! Way cool, neh? ("Neh" is the equivalent of "huh" in English and used frequently at the end of sentences in Japanese.)

I showed the kids on the high school my Samsung and they all loved it! The Japanese use their cell phone MP3 feature. EVERY Japanese person (including little old ladies in high-heeled boots) listens to their cell phone on the train platform and train. Seems like everyone we saw was plugged in. I bought a cool earbud headset that has a reel that keeps the cords from getting tangled. Spent several hours at Yodobashi Camera, Sapporo's largest electronics store. Their cell phones are awesome--some can be swiped as credit cards for purchases and train tickets.

Anyway, there's nothing to dislike about my Samsung. I bought a protective case for is at Yodobashi that has a belt loop and a caribiner hook so I can take it to the gym, but I hate to hide it, since it's so good looking and gets peoples' attention.

In summary, I like the ease of use, the features, and the look. I'm still not able to figure out, like some others have said, how to get the right order for musical selections. I'm sure it's me lack of understanding, not the machine's fault that I can't get all the movements of a concerto to play in the right order instead of alphabetically. Once I recover from jet lag and answer my 142 emails and get my brain screwed back on straight, I'll try to figure that little annoyance out.

Brian, I don't know about an 8gb version--I suggest going to and checking there. Mine is 4 gb and I only have it about 2/3 full with 3 books and a lot of my own CDs and some podcasts.


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2008, 3:19:09 PM PST
Ooops, I forgot to answer your question about the screen. It is small, but provides enough information for me. It came preloaded with a couple of videos, but the screen is too small for me to enjoy watching videos on. But then, I didn't buy it to watch videos! It's very crisp and clear and you change the fonts for clarity. I am happy with it, but I wouldn't want to read "War and Peace" on it!

Hope that helps, Mary

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2008, 7:18:48 PM PST
Samsung T9!! That's the player for audio books, unfortunately Samsung totally redesigned it the next year and apparently never realized what they had. The first couple of firmwares had issues but the last one they fixed everything, you just download it. The only drawback is it only goes up to 4gb and they're getting phased out. Its totally tactile, reads txt files, over twice the battery life of a zen v, and better sound quality. Sound level goes steadily all the way to silent, so you can listen in quiet places and still gradually adjust the volume. Bookmarks are made when you press the middle navigation button while listening to any audio file, they show up as red marks on the play line. Navigation forward or backwards to hear them while playing a track, skip through bookmarks in the same file forward or backward, without having any impact on the order you are playing. I had to upgrade because 4gb was too small, but its shocking to find how awful some of the interfaces are and how lacking even the players that do "bookmarks" are. I wish I could sell Cowon back my I7 because its interface is such a poorly designed mess, it takes away from the listening enjoyment.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2008, 11:01:36 AM PST
TomBrooklyn says:
Hi Computer User,
- How many bookmarks does the Samsung T9 have?
- Can you actually make a bookmark with one press of a button, or do you have to go to a menu first.
- I suppose it handles Overdrive, NetLibrary and Audible. Would that be right? I think only IPods and Zunes are the players that have trouble with them.
- I have a .5GB player now and it will hold about 10 hours of books, so 4GB will be plenty for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2008, 7:19:15 AM PST
COWON D2 REVIEW (for audio books)

I have had the D2 for a few days now and have played with it continuously since then. I had two players before this the Creative Zen V+ and the Sansa Sandisk Express, and both did not did not have what I needed in regards to audio books.

I listen to audio books on my hour long commute into work and hour long commute from work. However, when the mood strikes, I like to listen to music as well. This was a problem with the audio books, because I would lose my place and for those that had tracks that were an hour long, it would take quite a bit of effort to return to my place especially with the Sansa Express, which did no book marking at all.

So, I went in search of a player that could do bookmarks, hence the purchase of the Creative Zen V +. It did bookmarks, however after it finished playing the track I bookmarked, it would stop and I would once again have to search for the next track. This does not bode well when you are in your car driving.

So, I went in search for a player that could not only do bookmarks, but play the next track as well...and behold, the COWON D2.

I am very happy with this player and it is the best player I think for people who listen to audio books and want the option to jump from books to music and not worry about having to lose your place. Here's a quick summation on my impressions of the D2:

1.) File formats - so far, I have been able to play mp3, WMA, protected WMA and audible files. Those are the only ones I've tried.

2.) The touch screen - The D2 is a touch screen, but it works really well. My only complaint is that the menu options only appear for a few seconds when you're trying to navigate from the "Now Playing" screen and sometimes, it takes me awhile to make a selection. When the menu disappears, I am returned to the now playing screen and have to start the navigation all over. It's a minor annoyance, but livable.

3.) Sorting of the audio files - The files are sorted by Title, so if you have an audio book that does not have unique file names, but is organized by folders (like I did), you will have to retag them. There are ways around this. You can add the audio book as a DPL (Dynamic Play list) and that will fix your problem. However, you can only have one DPL. Or you can play the audio book through the folder mode (selecting Folder instead of Artist/Album from the menu).

4.) Resume - This feature means that when you turn the device back on, it will resume from where you left off. This feature is not turned on by default, so you will have to go into Settings to turn it on. This is NOT an auto play feature so every time you turn the device back on, it is on PAUSE. You have to navigate through the Music menu option and hit play.

5.) Sleep - This feature only works for a single session, meaning that if you put the Sleep on for 60 minutes, the next time you power it back on, it will be reset to 0 (or off). This works how it was designed, but I do not think the design was well. I like to set the sleep in case I forget to turn the audio book off after my 1 hour commute into work, so I don't drain the battery. I do not want to have to set this every time I turn on the device.

6.) Upgrades - There are continuous firmware releases to offer enhancements, fix bugs etc. The 2.51 release allows audible file format. However, When I upgraded to 2.54, I was no longer able to play my protected WMA audio books that I download from the library through OverDrive. I was able to revert back to 2.51 rather easily and I posted this bug in their forums to fix the issue. They responded rather quickly that would look into it.

If there is any questions I can answer for any one regarding this player, please feel free to ask.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2008, 9:51:53 AM PST
<<. . . I have the following pointers about the Zen that may help.

Never pause the player before setting a bookmark or shutting it off. To shut it off, just slide down the power switch with the player running until the "shutting down" message appears. When you turn the player on again, it will resume where you left off. If you pause before powerdown, it will revert to the beginning of that file.

The same goes for setting a bookmark. Leave it playing and just hold down the backarrow button in the lower right hand corner of the player until the Bookmarking menu appears. You can always rewind a little from the bookmark when you resume.>>

Thank you David for the sage advice about not pausing the Zen V Plus when bookmarking, or powering down. It really works! Now bookmarking goes more smoothly, and the audiobook starts up at the spot where I had last turned off the player. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2008, 11:05:45 AM PST
Does anyone know of an MP3 player that will do gapless playback? The gaps that occur in playback of MP3 audiobooks are not that noticeable if the gaps occur in between words (i.e. where there is silence). However, I listen to a lot of radio plays (HHGG, Twilight Zone, etc.) in MP3 format, and gaps in between tracks are very distracting since there is rarely silence anywhere during the playback. I've heard some of the old Rios do gapless playback, but they are hard to find.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2008, 11:40:31 AM PST
The problem with the Zen Vision bookmarks is that it will pick-up where you left off in mid-file, but if you were in the middle of a playlist (a series of files, chapters, whatever) it will only finish that file. It loses the rest of the playlist that you were in the middle of. There are 10 or so possible bookmarks.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2008, 12:52:17 PM PST
Waqas A. says:
One vote for my iPhone as a great audio book listening device - even in the car. First I convert mp3 files to m4b using iTunes. That makes sure that the player keeps track of position in the track even if powered off. I get a good cover image from Amazon to apply as cover art and turn on the "gapless playback" flag. I can easily fit in 4 full audio books in under 4 gigs - leaving the rest of my 4 gigs for music and podcasts.

I play books in the car with a headphone to cassette tape adapter. I love that the iPhone is smart about handling calls. It pauses playback when a call comes in, lets me pick up via bluetooth and resumes smoothly when I hang up. It also smartly pauses playback when I pull out the headphone jack as I'm leaving the car.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2008, 6:45:52 PM PST
MS Gal in GA says:
I was pleased to hear about your use of iPhone for audiobooks, because I am currently enjoying audiobooks on my new iPod Touch. I have been told that it will do everything that the iPhone will do except serve as a cell phone. However, it does not pause playback when I pull out the headphone jack on leaving my car. Is there some setting that I need to use to make that happen?

If I change from a book to music, it does not remember the place I stopped the book. So far I have been making a note of which track was playing when I switched and it hasn't been a great problem. Usually I just listen straight through one book at a time.

I would like to hear someone explain "converting" mp3 files using iTunes. How is this done and why is it desirable?
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