I'm gonna fire off on the display thing again. I want a big bright colorful screen on the 442, but N3 can have a tiny monochrome. Think of if this way, all those color blind people in the world won't know the difference anyways =P and the ones that do will hopefully realize that the N3 is for AUDIO which is for LISTENING to, not looking at.

It's not that I don't like colors, it's just that I don't want it to end up costing the N3 in other areas (price, size, battery life, audio featuers/quality). If you guys can fit it in w/o giving anything important up then I guess it's fine. Maybe you could add a feature to turn off the screen to save battery life.

On 9/22/05, Joe Born <jborn@neurosaudio.com> wrote:
Comments below

-----Original Message-----
From: neuros442linux-main-admin@lists.sourceforge.net [mailto: neuros442linux-main-admin@lists.sourceforge.net] On Behalf Of Björn Stenberg
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2005 7:27 AM
To: neuros442linux-main@lists.sourceforge.net
Subject: [Neuros 442 Linux Main] Hardware opinions


Hi.

[I rearranged the top parahraphs of the wiki page a little, hope you don't mind.]

JB- feel free.

I read through the HeadFi forum today since I saw you referring to them in the list archive. Feel free to point me to the relevant places if much of this has been discussed to death already, but I thought I'd give my opinions on a few of the issues that were brought up:

JB- if you've read through that thread and these archives, you've got the vast bulk of it.

- Audiophile DAC and headphone amp: This will naturally always be a compromise, but I find some of the requests (like 600 ohm headphone capability) are waaay over the top. Anyone using such exotic headphones are not going to trust the internal DAC or amp anyway. They're going to piggyback their own highend stuff connected digitally. Aiming to be the market leader is good but surpassing most peoples' home systems is not worth the money nor the decrease in battery life.

JB- I agree, we've kind of settled on the Burr Brown DAC and nice headphone amp, which is a good compromise.  If we execute well, the sound quality should be the best in the industry for a handheld with that.


- Interference/signal noise: This is to varying degrees a problem on all DAPs on the market today. Careful hw design to minimise this can gain a lot of sound quality for little cost.

JB- agree here too.  Our first test will be the dev. Board in about a month.


- Batteries: A removable/swappable battery is in principle a Very Good Thing, but becomes less useful if it can only be charged in the player. Also experience with the Archos LiIon models indicates this is a major source of problems, both with the electronics and with simple things like the battery lid in the case.

JB- actually, you bring up a point that I've been meaning to ask about.  It's clear that the trend is away from the NiMH batteries, but they have the advantages you list above.  Having used both with Archos, what's your experience with performance been like.  Obviously LiIon has a density advantage.


- The display: I just noticed in the wiki history page that one Srobertson changed the display specs from 1.8" LCD to a 2.5" LCD on sept 11. Is this part of the plan? I don't know how much displays cost, but 2.5" is very very large for a 1.8"-disk DAP. Also, color LCDs have the big drawback that they are only visible while the backlight is firing. This tends to both frustrate users and drive up power consumption. But it's also very appealing to the general public... I'm undecided on the color issue.

Not yet determined, but I would really guess it would be a 1.8"  Personally I would love a nice monochrome display, but I just think it will just speak outdated to most folks.  The display technology/resolution hasn't been chosen yet and we haven't priced them yet either.


- The disk: Definitely design for a double-platter 1.8" disk. Yes, the single-platter disks are thin and sexy but people will want to upgrade their players and I know many Iriver H120 owners are mighty miffed that they simply cannot fit larger disks in their players even though such are available. On the old Archos players, upgrading the disk practically became standard procedure after you bought one.

JB- agreed.


- USB: As we mentioned in the chat, using a dedicated USB/ATA bridge makes life very easy for the firmware, equalling earlier launch. Cypress CY7C68310 / ISD-300 is the USB2.0 bridge used in both the Archos and Iriver models we've ported to.


- Remote control: Inline remotes are practical, but tend to introduce noise in the sound. One possible solution would be to actually have the remove use two connectors in the N3: Data and Audio. Then audiophiles can choose not to run the sound through the remote control, but still use it.

JB- I believe that we'll use the USB host as our "data bus" and I would guess run the remote (and any other accessory) through there.


- Buttons: Someone made a very good remark in that buttons should ideally be usable (identifiable) by touch through rather thick cloth (think jeans). This allows navigation and control of the player even when it's zipped up in a pocket or even a bag. The Archos Recorder 20 has a very nice distinctive PLAY/PAUSE button in the middle of the "cursor" buttons that protrudes about a millimeter above the other buttons. This allows your fingers to find it as a reference and from there find all other buttons.

Another point about buttons is that I think they should be "old-fashioned" type buttons. No wiggly joysticks like the Iriver H120 or feedback-free touchpads like the iPods. But nice, solid, tactile pushbuttons with a distinct "click" to them. And preferrably put most of them on the front, buttons on many sides tend to be confusing. Also make sure the buttons can be decoded (read) separately to allow for button combinations. "Screen buttons" (a row of buttons below the screen, with labels drawn at the bottom of the screen by the firmware) is a simple way to make the UI more intuitive.

JB- Overall, our focus will be on "solid" construction and I think your button suggestions make sense.  We'll have to have considerable discussion on the button config since the Neuros navigation has historically been somewhat different than the rockbox.  Some softkeys as you outline above does make sense.

- Recording: All major players (except ipod) have it today and so should the N3, IMHO. It doesn't take a lot of extra components to support: An ADC and a line-in jack. One question: How come SPDIF is declared output only? With combination Line/SPDIF jacks, supporting both doesn't use any extra room or components.

JB- we will support recording, as far as SPDIF in, certainly if it's free, we should include it.  Not to ask a stupid question, but what is it used for?

I guess that's all for now... :-)

--
Björn


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