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  1. #1
    Member 2eleven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Santa Barbara, CA

    Feedback on Jive device

    Hi Folks,

    I got my Jive remote yesterday, and I leave tomorrow for a 5 week trip to Africa. I'm incredibly busy packing right now, but I wanted to at least leave ~some~ feedback before I get back in October.

    A little background to put my feedback in some kind of context. I have about 2,000 albums (~25,000 tracks in all) in flac format. I run slimserver on a home-rolled linux file server. All of my music is tagged, but because of the size of my collection I've found it easiest to keep my music in a well organized directory structure and then browsing the music folder from slimserver. I rarely browse "artists" or "albums". I have 4 SB3 in various rooms in the house.

    On to the review. I installed SlimServer_trunk_v2007-09-10, fired up the jive device and immediately upgraded it's firmware. I then upgraded all my squeezeboxen firmware. I've played around with on and off for the last day. First impressions are mostly good. This kind of device was at the top of my wish list for my music system. For the most part, I think the design is sound. My three biggest requirements have been met: wifi, scroll wheel and one handed operation. Nice work.

    Since I have limited time, I'm afraid I won't be able to search bugzilla to see if these have been mentioned before, but here are some comments/criticisms. I've divided into 3 categories - usability, bugs, and hardware. When I get back from Africa, I can search bugzilla for items that are still open and file some new ones if needed.


    -My number one gripe: scrolling long lists is painful. The scroll wheel covers only eight entries in one revolution. If I have 350 items in a list (the number of artists I have in my rock/pop folder), that's 44 revolutions to get through the list! Compare this with an ipod click wheel which covers closer to 25 items on an average revolution from my thumb (it varies with the click wheel). The ipod also uses acceleration over time - the more you turn, the faster it scrolls. I like that model ~much~ better than other options like adding an intermediate A..Z layer. Such a layer would obscure the available list entries. When I'm browsing a list of artists, for example, I ~do~ want to see all the artists, but I want to see them quickly. It's different than looking up a phone number in a cell phone where you know the name of the person before you start looking. When browsing, I don't know what artist I'm going to listen to - so I need to see them all in the list. I need to be able to scroll that long list quickly.

    -Search is not very usable. Alphanumeric entry with the wheel is too tedious. It was kind of a pain to enter the wep key this way, but at least that's a one time thing. I don't think "search" should be wasting screen real estate on this thing since I doubt it would be too useful to people. If they need to search, they would probably rather go to the web interface.

    -"My Music" could maybe be renamed "Music Library". "My Music" sounds like the Microsofty "My Computer", "My Documents", etc. I think even MS has abandoned that nomenclature in Vista, though I'm not 100% sure.

    -Since people may use this remote in place of the IR remote that came with the squeezebox, is there a way to upgrade the firmware on the squeezebox from the jive remote? I couldn't find it, so I did the "hold down brightness" thing.

    -Album art loads slowly. Long lists again. Not sure what to do about that one (cache it locally perhaps?).

    -When browsing the music folder, I don't get my album art when entering an album's directory. In the slimserver interface I do. I like to see my album art.

    -There's no option for a blank screensaver. Maybe this is what "none" would do, but I think there should be a "blank" or "turn off lcd" option.

    -Under settings, there is currently "remote settings" and "player settings". I assume you will be adding a "server settings" as well? That would be convenient.

    -The back button is unresponsive from time to time. Requires a longer press to do something. Could be my unit.

    -General responsiveness at times is sluggish. Sometimes a button push ~appears~ unresponsive, but really it's just slow to react.


    -Now playing doesn't refresh for me. I played one album, and for the rest of the day Now Playing always showed that one album, regardless of what was actually playing.

    -Screensaver for "when stopped" wouldn't stick. Whatever I selected, the next time I went back to that screen, all entries were unchecked.

    -The device locks up occasionally and I have to reset it by pulling the battery.


    -The scroll wheel itself feels a little flimsy. It's probably fine, but it just gives me the impression that it will be the first thing to wear out.

    -The battery door is really tight. The device locks up occasionally and I have to pull the battery to reset it. I could see damaging the unit with the amount of pressure I have to apply to get it open. I prefer too tight over too loose though, so this isn't too big of a gripe.

    -The unit is kind of loose in the cradle. It sits at a slight angle much of the time. Not a big deal, but if it mated better with the cradle, it would give a more high-quality feeling.

    -The gloss black back is already all scratched after one day of sitting on things. I think matte black would hold up better, and some little molded in feet would help as well. You don't want the stigma of the 1G ipod nano scratch problem.

    I've had limited time to play with this, so I haven't gotten the full impression yet. I'll give it a lot more time when I get back from Africa. I think the device is pretty cool, and I'm ~really~ happy to see the one handed scroll wheel approach. That's gold, and is a huge improvement over the offering from Sonos.

    With the flash slot and dock connector, I can see this thing growing into a lot more than just a remote. I'm sure you guys have a lot of plans in the pipeline for this platform, and I can't wait to give you my money for them. ;-)

    Nice work. Well thought out. More feedback to come when I get back from Africa. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to scrutinize this thing.



  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by 2eleven View Post
    -Search is not very usable. Alphanumeric entry with the wheel is too tedious.
    Search is something that Apple's iPod Video firmware does pretty well, I think. Two rows of letters and numbers, scroll moves through the list, Select button chooses/"enters" a letter or number. As soon as a character is chosen, the firmware runs a search. The user can scroll around to the next character while the iPod searches.

    Rockbox's firmware for this on the iPod is *terrible*. On-screen keyboard is a grid, and scroll only moves up/down. On an iPod running Rockbox, geeky as it sounds, the Morse Code input is far easier. Rockbox displays a Morse cheat sheet ("a .-", "b -...", etc.) and the Select button is used to key in the phrase.

    I'd expect Jive to operate more like the iPod firmware -- both the easy "scroll around" selection and searching every time a character is selected (like 7.x's web UI).

    How is character entry implemented in the Jive remote?

    Of course I think scroll wheels (not to be confused with jog dials) for the most part suck, and that part of the beta Jive hardware seems least appealing to me. :-)

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