I swooped into head-fi again to find out about Neil Young's player and whether people here thought it was going to be any good or not, and was soon pulled into the galaxy of audiophile-level DAPs that I didn't even know existed...I would probably already own one if I had.
I've been really scouring the threads here and reviews on youtube the last couple days and what I have found out seems to be exactly what this thread is about. Not a single piece of hardware can get the software right. It sounds like the AK120 has the best interface of them all, but still has problems, and is overpriced. I was almost thinking of buying one anyway, but I also just don't trust iRiver for some reason.
On some of the cheaper alternatives like the upcoming x5 you can understand where it might not be perfect and small defects might be allowable. Then again, given some of the complaints about the X5...they seem awfully avoidable. The software bugs should hopefully be fixed, but it sounds like there are a couple hardware level issues as well. On something like the AK120, though, defects are unforgivable. I'll pay 1200 for a super high quality audio player, but it better be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT if I do. Navigation needs to be, if not a copy of the ipod, at least as good as the ipod in terms of structure and tag support, etc.
High end audio gear can be a little wonky at times, but the functionality of the gear is the important thing and that is usually pretty robust. The thing manufacturers aren't getting is that with DAPs, the navigation of a huge music library **IS** the functionality, as much as the audio quality is. It's not a sideline issue you can "just deal with" in order to get good audio quality, it's a critical and indispensable part of the product. It's a significant factor in why one would buy one player over another. People aren't buying these things to throw a couple songs on, they are buying them to carry huge high quality music libraries with them everywhere they go. Being able to make effective use of that huge library without fighting the device is critical.
Edited by endus - 3/26/14 at 8:27am