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S:Flo2/Teclast T51: Three dead DAPs, see how they failed…

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

 

Folks, I’m just about wit’s end with this albatross of a problem… and I need some input/advice.
 
[Problem summary:]
Three Teclast T51 DAPs, purchased (taken delivery of) between late July and end of Dec. 2010.
#1. S:Flo2 purchased (ordered) new from MP4Nation mid July 2010. Failed mid-late Sept. 2010. Returned to MP4Nation for warranty service (still have not rec’d as of 28 Feb 2011)
#2. S:Flo2 purchased used from eBay (August 2010). Failed late October 2010. Don’t know what can be done as far as RA as I bought it used (and they still have #1!!) (any ideas?).
#3. Teclast T51 purchased new from HoD (ordered beg. of Nov. 2010; delivered end of Dec 2010). Buggy from day one (see below). Became progressively more buggy. Failed altogether Feb 26, 2011. RA in progress.
 
I purchased #1 based on all the positive “reviews”, both here and other forums/sites. It worked well (but with some bugs). The Wife wanted her own, so I purchased #2 from eBay. Both units failed catastrophically (see below) within one month! I thought it may have been some sort of issue with SFlo2s only, so I read posts on this forum and discovered an alternate source for the same (hopefully more reliable) DAP: HoD. So I ordered #3.
 
[Description of “failures”:]
 
How they failed:
Both S:Flo2s failed catastrophically (= all-of-sudden). No warning signs (increasing software glitches, lock-ups, more-pin-resettings-than usual, etc.). The HoD-purchased T51 was, as noted earlier, buggy from day one. The main bug being an inability to enter the Music Directory w/o the device being USB-powered. Once in the Music Directory, I could unplug and go portable. About three weeks ago, it began to OFF itself after about 1/2hr use. When the HoD T51 “went” (two days ago), it died after going extremely buggy (and not catastrophically like the MP4Nation SFlo2s): it refused to stay on and after about a 1/2hr of launch attempts (which resulted in “auto-offs”), the unit finally failed catastrophically upon plugging into a USB port.
 
State of devices after failure:
Dead. Won’t turn on. No main-button LED response. USB port plug unresponsive to PC plug-in (i.e., PC does not acknowledge a device is plugged in). I can hear a slight electrical pop in the HO/LO lines when (un)plugging from USB. But that’s it.
 
[Some usage notes and (un)original observations:]
 
Used almost every day (1-2 hours, each day, continuous on for that use-time). Play mostly FLACs; some mp3s.
 
I don’t jog or otherwise engage in high-acceleration/deceleration (i.e. shock) activities (with or w/o audio gear!). I do bike on dedicated bike paths and walk / do light, household errands with audio gear (all while wearing the REI fanny (gear) pack in the images below). 
I live in SW U.S., so the climate is stable and low-humidity year-round. I do not take audio gear into extreme environments (mountains, desert, near water, etc.).
 
AS FAR AS I KNOW, there are no unusual electromagnetic (EMI, EMF) or electrostatic (ESD) emissions in my area or in the immediate vicinity of my gear. 
 
I always power (recharge) USB DAPs via a late-model mid-line Dell laptop. This source has the highest-quality 5V (regulated) power of any USB device I own. The supplied AC/USB adapter should never be trusted (and I never use them).
 
All units ran very warm (as noted in forum myriad posts)! I was always concerned about this, so I never purchased the dedicated leather protective bag. 
 
I used the REI fanny pack, with the T51, a headphone amp, QA350 Dap and Cowon/iAudio U3, all Velcro’d in the conglomerative “structure” you see in the pics. I have used this bag/“arrangement” for years with myriad portable-audio devices and found it best for physical-shock protection, heat ventilation, and use/handling/ergonomics (the QA350’s remote makes handling a non issue!).
 
[Comparison to other, similar devices:]
 
Reliability/durability:
I have owned several DAPs from Apple (iPod), Cowon (iAudio X5, U3) and Samsung. The two iAudio X5s I have owned had some issues after about four heavy-use years. Surprisingly, their HDs never failed; what failed were: battery, pwr supply components, and some semiconductor ICs (the best I assess from reading forum posts dedicated to this unit). The solid-state iAudio U3 and Samsung units –- the only true comparatives to the T51 I own -- continue to chug along w/o issues. Not bad for 5-6-year-old devices.
The QA350 is going strong, but I have had that less than 6mos and haven’t used it all that much in that time, IAC.
 
Sound Quality:
Believe it or not, I prefer the SQ of the S:Flo2/T51 to the QA350, but only after the T51 has been “broken in” (no pun intended!) for about 100-150hrs. The sound achieves a level of focus and image stability and smoothness that the QA350 (detailed and dynamic as it is) ultimately lacks.
The high SQ is one reason I am bothering to post this detailed message on a device that has cost me much $$ and frustration. Now if only I could get one to stay working!
 
[Images:]
 

In the images below, the Velcro’d gear-“stack” -- all contained in the REI fanny pack -- noted in the text appears as: (top) T51 is on; (mid) Pimeta2 headphone amp; (bottom) QA350. Also in images are iAudio U3 (hard to see) and IE-8 IEMs.

 
IMG_9300_110227_092240--sm.jpg
 
IMG_9301_110227_092354--sm.jpg
post #2 of 28
Thread Starter 

A follow-up question ....

 

For those of you who've had to return your T51/S:Flo2 for service ... how exactly did your unit fail? Please describe any unusual symptoms you noticed before the unit failed? Did your unit ultimately completely fail, or was it partial?

If a unit was returned to you, was it your original repaired, or a new replacement? (I had some files stored in the internal Flash memory that I wouldn't mind recovering -- if possible. Yes, one should  always have backups, but I'm too lazy to re-rip those CDs!!)

 

Lastly (and importantly) for those of you who got your units back ... did they ever tell you what malfunctioned (parts replaced, etc.)? (It would be great if some industry 'insiders' could chime in here)

 

Thanks!

post #3 of 28

I am really interested in this as well,seeing i might be getting one for my birthday.

post #4 of 28
WOW, epicfail. I'm really surprised as I had two s:flo2 units purchased from MP4Nation.net at 6Mo intervals from each other. One of them is out on RMA from the weirdest glitch I've heard of yet, two "lines" of resolution on the TFT LCD went black, yet the overall functionality of the device remained unscathed. JUST video loss. So I RMA'ed my defective unit. Sold the other. I've got more than adequate SQ from my iRiver H140 with rockbox and its dual mode analog or optical SPDIF line out running to whatever Amp or DAC/Amp combo I want. In the fastlane I just use a sansa device, a fuze or a clip+ with rockbox. Properly EQ'ed they get you close enough to the SQ I'm looking for with the delicious ease of use of the rockbox User Interface, which is lacking in the s:flo2 in spades.

I was planning to keep my returned unit just to keep it for pure SQ and because of the coolness factor of the Submerged-Under-An-Ocean-Of-LUSH-HOLY-BASS available when you listen to the s:flo2 with the EQ set to Microsoft PlayFX settings configured to PlayFX Bass. So satisfying for genres such as Deep Urban Bass aka DUB, DUBstep, Electro, Fidget, Glitch, Future Garage, Grime, and the plethora of other upstart genre mashups that are "hip and fun" right now. When awash in Bass from the s:flo2 they just are sublime to hear.

When given a nice EQing with the Custom EQ the device sounds really well modeled, and when on FLAT sounds very 3D. Also saw in the forums of MP4Nation the beginnings of the possibility of the controller chip, RockChip 28K series getting some initial hacking and debugging testing by the rockbox team's individuals. That COULD pave the way for rockbox on s:flo2 and "fix" the UI difficulties.

Anyway I just thought I'd post about my unique failures, my experience with the player, and some news on what I've heard in the pipeline with this device. Time for breakfast now...
post #5 of 28
^^ That would be GREAT news indeed if the thing ever got real firmware.
post #6 of 28

Yeah, I had the S:flo2 for 3 months before it died. The thing can still turn on, but no sound was coming out from either the HO or LO. Then I sent it back to mp4nation for RMA HELL and in the end, I never truly received my s:flo2 back. I don't really care, the experience with mp4nation was so sour I was just glad it's over even though I lost my USD160 that I spent. 

 

Not worth crying over, the player isn't THAT great anyways. I've had better reliability and on-par SQ with the cheaper Sansa players anyways. 

post #7 of 28
this is why i sold mine. im staying away from their products until they get their act straight. i have a cowon j3 now... time will tell if their service and their product are up to par. so far so good.
post #8 of 28

The charger needs to be 1 amp (and above). A while ago, my friend was told by a T51 engineer. And, try not to charge it through a computer.

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your replies, folks ...

 

Darkchaser wrote: 

 

Quote:
 Then I sent it back to mp4nation for RMA HELL and in the end, I never truly received my s:flo2 back. I don't really care, the experience with mp4nation was so sour I was just glad it's over even though I lost my USD160 that I spent. 

 

Know how you feel! The blame may partly be OEM Teclast themselves (and not entirely distrbs like HoD and MP4nation)  -- both for making an unreliable product and for "screwing the pooch" in honoring warranty service requests.

 

What I can't figure out is why I can't find more accounts of failed units? Maybe, it's me (this is why, in the OP, I listed detailed usage notes)??! Or maybe they do fail often, but most people don't complain about it (i.e., via forums)? 

 

A quick poll:

 

How many mins/hours per day (or otherwise) do you use this device (SFlo2 or T51)?

 

 

 

 


Edited by alphaman - 3/2/11 at 12:44am
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

^^ That would be GREAT news indeed if the thing ever got real firmware.


Unfortunately, a FW "fix" almost surely won't solve the issues I noted ... not unless the FW could control, say, the heat issue. (Speculating here, of course!) Speaking of heat (correct me if I'm off-track) ... I think that may be a necessary evil for its voltage-doubling pwr circuit. Analog audio circuits/devices almost always sound better with higher Vcc.

 

post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by david1978jp View Post

The charger needs to be 1 amp (and above). A while ago, my friend was told by a T51 engineer. And, try not to charge it through a computer.


The supplied charger looks puny and unregulated. I could be wrong.

 

If the the word-of-mouth account you relate is true and important, is it in any Teclast manual/web-site? 

 

IAC, while The Wife was using hers, she mostly charged with the supplied adapter. When mine failed, I confiscated :) hers -- and gave her my much-more-reliable Cowon U3. As I noted in the OP, The Wife's unit failed, too.

 

I noted my charge habits as matter of documenting correlations, which are not necessarily important to the failure issue much less causal.

post #12 of 28

I got sflo2 when it was first released in late 2009, it is still doing very well, I alway use the charger coming with it. Roughly the player is used 10hrs/week

post #13 of 28

Alpha it depends, sometimes I use is for hours per day every day of the week, and other times I'd leave it for two-three days at a time since I wouldn't be able to travel with it.  On my trip to NYC and overseas I did use it quite a lot for over six hours at a time.  One thing for sure and two things for certain (quoting allen iverson), it's got great sound quality out of the LO but man does it got problems.

 

This is my problem:

 

post #14 of 28

The more I hear abiut S:flo2 the more put off I am,it seems a lot people is having problems with theirs.

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

flaming_june: yeah, my HoD-purchased T51 had huge problems like that, too (since the day it arrived!). Did you try the Factory Reset (near volume and mini-jacks?). As the American idiom goes ... what a way to run a railroad.

 

sz1999: Your luck with this device makes me wonder whether Teclast themselves got a bad lot (batch) of manuf parts. E.g., power supply parts or the main decoder. I can't see anything further downstream (DAC, opamp, headphone amp) that would fail.

 

Update: I'm about to ship my HoD T51 back. I have a feeling I'll never see it (or a replacement) again. Sigh!

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