The Sansa Fuze is a fun little portable media player. It does suffer from one teeny weeny little irritant: uploading videos can be problematic, and if they do upload the audio goes out of sync almost immediately and gets worse the farther into the video you go. Sansa hasn’t been very forthcoming about solutions. I’ve found one that works for me.
I got my Fuze last Christmas, and it has indeed taken me six months to get around to really giving it a bit of a workout (what can I say…I’ve been busy). All-in-all it’s a pretty fun little gadget…except for the problem with video. I did some quick searches of the web, but I’ve pretty much just found message after message of complaints, but little in the way of solutions. Since I try to make it a policy of this blog to offer up solutions (even crazy ones, sometimes), I thought I’d have a go.
It turns out that you don’t have to jump through too many hoops to get good results. In addition to your Fuze and the Sansa Media Converter, you’ll really want to get another bit of media conversion software. The one I’ve been using is a very useful piece of freeware called Super © (pronounced Super-copy), available here. (I will warn you that trying to find the actual link to the download is a royal PITA–even when you go in knowing it’s going to be a royal PITA–but the reward is worth the trouble.)
(I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of how to use Super ©. It’s feature-rich, flexible, and indispensable when you are having to do a lot of weird video format conversions.)
OK. First, you’ll need a video file. It can be an mpg you ripped from a DVD, an avi from your video camera, an flv from a video site on the web…it really doesn’t matter too much. You’ll need to drag and drop that file into the file area at the bottom of the Super © window. If you right-click anywhere in Super ©, you’ll get a context menu. Select “Output File Saving Management” and choose & save the directory you want your output to go to.
Next, we’ll set the output file format. This is at the top of the screen. (If you are seeing stuff about MUXing, click the other radio button that’s next to the first box.) In the first box you’ll want to select “MP4″. In the next box over, you want to select the “XviD” video codec. In the Audio Codec box, choose “AAC LC”.
In the Video Scale Size box, you’ll want to click the box for More until you get to the custom settings. What you set here will be determined by the actual aspect ratio of your video as well as how much squooshing (yes, that’s a word…now) you’re willing to tolerate. I use 234 x 176 for standard 4:3 ratio, and 234 x 132 for 16:9 letterbox videos. (Some letterbox vids are actually 4:3 with the bars already added, so keep that in mind if you get unexpected results.)
You’ll want a frame rate of 23.976 fps if you want the audio to stay more-or-less in sync. You can set the bitrate as low as you want for the quality you can live with. Somewhere between 200-400 should give you pretty good results.
For audio, I find that 44,100 works as a sampling frequency with a bitrate of 128 (again, adjust to your preference).
All that’s left now is to click the Encode button at the bottom of the screen. Hopefully nothing goes wrong. If something does go wrong, don’t come crying to me. Play with it. Learn it.
Ok. Now you have your MP4 file. It’s time to attach your Fuze to the computer. Fire up the Sansa Media Converter, drag your MP4 file to it. Press the Convert button and wait for things to finish. Sometimes the last file will hang and be corrupted in the Fuze. Just keep trying. It does work.
Hopefully at this point you’ll be able to enjoy audio-sync’d videos on your Fuze just as I am. As you can see, it’s not exactly the most obvious process, but as far as hoop-jumping goes, it’s not atrocious. It would have been nice if Sansa had made it easy and coded all of this into their converter from the git-go, but ease and reliability seem to be business concepts of a by-gone era. C’est la vie.