I guess this what I get for not reading the Ultra Product forum before buying two of their products. The Sporty Ultra Hydra MP3 Player is a miniature palm sized MP3 player that is splash resistant. Cheryl and I thought this would be the perfect MP3 unit for the gym. Yes believe it or not I have been to the gym three times this week. Granted only for 25 minutes of bike riding. So imagine my frustration and aggravation today when my 1GB Hydra starts acting up. At first I figured it was just the battery. Although I had just put a new one in that I could have sworn was fresh. After trying two other batteries the same problem. An hour glass popped up and stuck in place. The unit basically wasn’t booting into the normal menu screen. After a quick read in the Ultra Products Help Forum I was able to see that this seems to be a common problem with this device.
Keep in mind this a great unit when it works. Compact fairly easy to navigate after getting use to how to control the menus. It works right out of the box. No drive or firmware install needed. Just drag and drop you music or podcast onto the device and your good to go. It may not be an Apple iPod or Microsoft Zune. But it’s stylish and would easily fit in a tight pocket. Not to mention you can use it as a data thumb drive. With all of that stated. Things aren’t good when things go bad with this unit. The format tool that comes on disc can’t get the job done when you run into this blue screen of death issue. You will have use Windows Explorer to format the drive. This might take a bit considering when this device has a problem it seems to lock up your whole machine. Windows Explorer crashed several times on me before I was able to get my 1GB unit formatted.
Since Cheryl liked the original 1 GB Ultra MP3 player we purchased. She wanted one of her own. Which was the plan from the start. Although I thought she would be nice and not trump me by getting the 2 GB unit. I should have known I would be wrong in that regard. So far her 2 GB model hasn’t had any issues. Although others who have bought the 2 GB Ultra are reporting problems in the support forum. While this isn’t the most expensive MP3 player on the market. I wouldn’t say they are cheap. $59.99 before rebate ( if you get it ) for the 1GB unit. The rebate is currently $30. The same offer is available for the 2 GB model that starts at $69.99.
We recently purchased a Xtatix XEA-FMT1 MP3 FM Transmitter with car adapter. This was $14.99. Other brands vary in price. This device allows you to transmit what is being played on your MP3 player to any device that has a FM radio tuner. It offers four preset channels. Choose the channel that offers the best reception. You would of course tune into that channel on your home stereo or in dash car radio. Just plug the transmitter into the earphone jack of your MP3 player. Turn the transmitter on select a channel and your set. Other transmitter brands offer extra features but all work basically the same way. These devices work with any MP3 player including an iPod or Zune.
Keep in mind when using the USB cable to add music to this device. You can in fact take out the battery. The MP3 unit will be powered using the USB cable.
After moving some files back to the MP3 player. It seems that functionality will work just fine. But when turning on the player the files aren’t being seen. Even though if I use the device as a thumbdrive I can play those songs off the MP3 player with no problem. On the positive side of things. The MP3 player no longer is blue screening. It is booting properly and I can use all of the menu settings. The radio tuner works just fine as well. The player just won’t see the MP3 files currently. Very odd if you ask me.
It looked as if another format had fixed things. But now when I play an MP3 after a few seconds the player shuts off. So let me go get yet another battery and see if that helps. Or if this player is just stoned out of it’s digital mind.
End results – after hours of playing around with this. It now seems to be working as it should again. The battery change seems to have resolved the last issue I mentioned above. The Prodigy Firestarter has been blaring in my ear for several minutes now with no issues. Hopefully the problem is now resolved. Well I spoke to soon it shutdown yet again – right before the song was about to end. Time to just throw the thing across the room.
From my reading this product is built for Ultra by SigmaTel.
You can buy your MP3 hardware from any of the links below. Many vendors to choose from. Circuit City and Best Buy both offer the option to buy online and pickup instore – same day service.
Here is where we bought the Ultra Hydra MP3 players from. I buy almost all of my computer parts from this vendor.
Click here to get a free 14-day trial of Rhapsody
Cannot Reformat for Sticky Hourglass – Ultra Products – Tech Forum
Hydra freezes with Hourglass, can’t format-upgrade!! – Ultra Products – Tech Forum
ultra 2gb freezing during format – Ultra Products – Tech Forum
How do I format my Mp3 player – Ultra Products – Tech Forum
Help! Firmware Upgrade stuck on initialize! – Ultra Products – Tech Forum
Hydra freezes w- hourglass on screen – Ultra Products – Tech Forum
Update March 10, 2007 3:45 AM Central Time
Cheryl had a problem with her player the day after I saw this issue. She was able to get things back up and running with a reformat of the Ultra MP3 player. So far that means both of our players have shown issues. On another note – that was the first time she ever formatted anything. So I’d say she is now officially a geek in train at least.