Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sansa e280: Key Locked, System Shutdown

For the past, well, while now, I've been using a Sansa c250 2gb as my portable music player. I had bought the c250 because it was really cheap from 3btech.net, and supported Rockbox. The Rockbox firmware also unlocked some capabilities of the hardware that Sandisk wouldn't enable in the default firmware, such as support for MicroSDHC cards. The default firmware topped at 2gb MicroSD cards, while the Rockbox firmware offers support for up to 32gb cards. Only, recently, I sat on the player damaging the screen. As a refurb unit, Sandisk wasn't willing to repair the unit, or allow me to purchase replacement parts.

So I started keeping an eye out for another media player. Recently 3btech offered an e260 4gb player for $40, which also is supported by Rockbox, but the unit wasn't actually in stock, and according to an email back from 3btech, wouldn't be in stock for a while, if at all. So I started searching around and found that TigerDirect was offering an e280 8gb player for $50. While the $50 price tag was a bit more than I had intended to spend, it was hard to ignore double the storage space for what was not double the price of the e260, or quadruple the price of the e250, the 2gb model which TD had for around $30.

So I bought it, and it arrived today, and I ran into a strange problem. SanDisk ships their players with the HOLD button enabled. This of course prevents accidental jostling or mishandling from activating the player in the box, since the battery comes pre-installed.

However, after turning off the HOLD button, I still got the message Key Locked, System Shutdown whenever I turned the player on.

I'm still not sure how I got around this, but I tried forcing the player to start in the firmware recovery mode, which is accomplished by holding down the RECORD button and hitting the power button. While in firmware recovery mode I hooked the player up to my main Mepis 8 system and verified that the 16mb root file was visible and mountable. I got some message on the screen about how the firmware recovery had worked, and upon disconnecting the e280, turning it off, and turning it back on... the default firmware loaded up normally.

So, I don't know if this will help anybody else searching for problems with the e200 series and Key Locked, System Shutdown, but somehow it worked for me.

***

And, update, it seems that the Hold Key itself is a little buggy. Over the weekend I took the player out of hold, but the lights wouldn't come on... jiggled the hold button, and poof... it was working.

Which actually is sounding just about right for the build quality of Sandisk's equipment compared to the c2x0 units I've gone through.
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