Testing the legs of the Sansa Express

My Sansa Express arrived yesterday.

Sansa express

We plugged it into Adrian’s Windows XP laptop, dragged some
files across, and went to eject it. No eject button on the
disk drive. Didn’t show up on the ‘safely remove device’
list. Huh. So we yanked it out, it played happily and all
appeared to be well.

When I got home, I plugged it into my Ubuntu laptop. A
Konqueror window opened up, I dragged some files across, and
went to eject it. Again, there was no ‘safely remove’ option in the
‘/media/usbdisk’ context menu, so I figured it was the same
deal. I yanked it out, but now it refused to light up, it wouldn’t turn
on, and when I popped it back in it didn’t mount. The thing was
dead.

I’ve played this game before with my old iRiver. So I downloaded the Sansa Express manual, looking for info on how to reformat or reset it. The hard reset instructions said to hold the ‘Select’ button while pressing ‘Volume up’ simultaneously. I
tried that a bunch of times, but still no dice. I started to sweat a little at that point, but ended up pressing lots of pairs of buttons simultaneously, and one of them seemed to do the trick. It might have been ‘menu’ + ‘volume up’.

After resetting, I retried things on my Ubuntu laptop, and this time put the computer to sleep to force a safe removal. I later found that manually entering ‘eject /media/usbdisk’ works too, though sometimes takes a while.

It looks like the Sansa Express tries to use MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) if you’re running XP/Vista, and falls back to UMS/MSC (i.e. just a normal USB hard disk) in OSX/Linux. The latter mode requires a safe removal.

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