Tom's Favorite Gadget - The Nomad Jukebox from Creative

Uploading To The Nomad Jukebox

The most important feature of Playcenter 2 is obviously the transfer of music-files from your computer to the Jukebox. This can be done rather intuitively.

The left window shows the files on your computer, which can be sorted by play list, album, artist or just alphabetically. You simply choose a song, album, play list or artist and all the selected files get transferred to the Jukebox once you hit the transfer button. This procedure has also got a rather annoying flaw. In many cases you might have already transferred all the music-files you need on your Jukebox, but you want to create a few play lists on your computer, which is more convenient than creating those lists on the Jukebox. After you are finished making those play lists, you obviously want to transfer them to the Jukebox. The Playcenter 2 software is obviously not smart enough to realize that the music-files that you have chosen in your play list might already be available on the Jukebox, in which case Playcenter2 would only have to transfer the list and nothing else. Playcenter2 is always transferring the play list as well as the music-files in this list. Is a file already available you get the following error message:

If your play list is 200 songs long you might get very annoyed with this error message, because it doesn't give you the option to 'skip all files' that are already on the Jukebox. The only thing that saves you from choosing 'skip file' and hitting the OK-button 200 times is choosing 'Replace All Files'. This however prolongs the upload of your play list tremendously, because now Playcenter 2 is unnecessarily uploading all those 200 files to the Jukebox, although they are already there. I strongly suggest that Creative fixes this highly annoying flaw in the next release of Playcenter.

I almost forgot to mention the time it takes for an upload, which, as you know, is done via the USB-port of your computer. It takes about 3-4 seconds per MB and thus about 10-20 seconds per song. That might sound fast, but if you want to upload 200 songs you will have to invest no less than 35 - 70 minutes!!! Uploading a whole collection of 1000 songs will therefore last many hours.

Transferring Files From The Jukebox To The Computer

This paragraph will be short, because this re-transfer simply doesn't work. So far the Jukebox is like a black hole. You can transfer music to it, but you can't transfer it back. I am very sure that this can be fixed with a simple software hack, but so far I have neither found the trick myself, nor have I seen any hack anywhere on the net. It will only be a question of time however, until this problem is solved. After all there is the ominous transfer button from the Jukebox to the system that would have to be pushed if it could be enabled. Creative has definitely put this option into the software, but legal reasons must have kept Creative from enabling it. Please let me know if you've found the trick of how to enable the reverse transfer of files.

Playing Songs On Your Computer

Playcenter2 gives you of course also the option to simply listen to music files directly from your computer system. You can either play a CD or MP3 and WAV files. The latter two you can arrange in the above mentioned play lists, offering you many hours of music without any need to touch your system.

Functionality Of The Player

Once the music is on the Jukebox, it's pretty easy to play it. You either choose some titles, albums, or artists and add them to the queue, which then can be saved as a new play list, or you choose one of the play lists that are already stored on the Jukebox. The maximal output of the headphone jack is not particularly loud, but sufficient to enjoy the music properly in any but the very noisiest environments. I personally consider the EAX-settings of the Jukebox as unnecessary gimmick, because I don't really fancy to listen to Anastacia in e.g. 'bathroom'-sound. The same is valid for the parametric equalizer, which would be a good idea if the volume of the music wouldn't drop as soon as you increase the bass level.

Let me remind you though that the Jukebox is much too good to only be used on the road. You can either hook it up to your car radio with one of those messy cassette-adapters, or you can connect it to your home stereo, which might be placed elsewhere than your computer system. Once Creative supplies the remote control the Jukebox could replace any CD-changer, although it is tiny in comparison.

Upgrading The Hard Drive

Now finally we got to the most interesting bit of this article, the upgrade of the Jukebox to a larger hard drive. This idea came to my mind long before I bought my Nomad Jukebox, but Kuren's website helped me a lot to realize this project. He has put a special page together with all kind of links for Jukebox owners. One of them is his own upgrade to a 12 GB hard drive and another one the upgrade to a 20 GB disk using the same technique. Before I point out my own technique to do the upgrade (which differs from Kuren's), I would like to thank Kuren for his helpful insights.

What You Need

Let's first have a look at what we've got. The jukebox is equipped with a 6 GB 2.5" notebook hard drive from Fujitsu.

This little disk is only 9.5 mm thick and an upgrade hard drive with a larger capacity is not supposed to be thicker as well. Notebook hard drives come in 9.5 mm, 12.5 mm and 17 mm thickness, so please be aware that you can forget the latter two. I suggest IBM's DJSA-line 'Travelstar 20GN', which features a 20 and a 10 GB hard rive. Alternatively you could go for IBM's DARA-line 'Travelstar 12GN', which features a 12 and a 9 GB disk. Of course you can also look for Fujitsu or Toshiba notebook drives, but I have always been a big fan of IBM hard drives. In my own upgrade I used a 12 GB IBM DARA disk.

Besides the hard drive we also need a 2.5" disk to IDE-connector adapter, which you should get in any reasonably equipped computer store. It is required to hook up the little disks to your computer system in order to prepare the new drive for its future life in the Jukebox.


Before we start to take our Jukebox-player apart, I'd like to say a few words of warning. Although the Jukebox can be disassembled and assembled in a way that doesn't leave any traces, I'd like to make you aware of the fact that Creative will most likely refuse any warranty if it is able to detect that you have been manipulating the MP3-player. Opening the housing and changing the drive is a rather simple task for experienced and manually skilled people, but it always bears the risk that you could break something. Especially the integrated circuits of the circuit board can easily be damaged from static interference. Tom's Hardware Guide will not take any responsibility in case you should damage or destroy your Nomad Jukebox due to the procedure described herein.

The Disassembly Of The Nomad Jukebox

Now let's start to dissect the Jukebox. Turn it around so that you face the bottom side of it. Remove the batteries and leave the battery cover. In the battery compartment you can spot three Phillips screws, which should be unscrewed with a fine Phillips screwdriver. The other two screws are underneath the rubber pads at the frontal bottom-area of the player. Remove the pads carefully and unscrew those screws as well.

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