Reviving an Old MP3 Player

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I’ve fi­nally had the chance to jot down my ad­ven­ture in re­viv­ing a very old MP3 player.

The player is made by Philips. I think the model num­ber is some­thing like SA2SPK02S/93. It is al­most 10 years old, so by the time I tried to turn it on, noth­ing ap­peared on the screen. Not sur­prised at all.

Apparently the bat­tery is al­ready de­pleted and pos­si­bly over-dis­charged. It has a USB port for charg­ing, so I con­nected it to my desk­top ma­chine. It ap­peared to be charg­ing, and showed full bat­tery re­ally quickly. I dis­con­nected it and then tried to turn it on, but it went into a weird boot loop. It showed that the bat­tery was low, and then re­fused to do any­thing else. I also tried to charge it over a long pe­riod of time, but it did­n’t help.

I was about to give up be­fore I got cu­ri­ous about its man­age­ment soft­ware, Philips Songbird. Technically, this MP3 player can func­tion very well on its own. I was just cu­ri­ous on what the man­age­ment soft­ware was for. After fight­ing with some com­pat­i­bil­ity is­sues, I fi­nally got the soft­ware run­ning, and there was a firmware up­date op­tion. No new firmware avail­able. Not sur­prised at all, ei­ther. However, I could re­in­stall the ex­ist­ing firmware. I im­me­di­ately gave it a try be­cause why not?

That turned out to be the cor­rect so­lu­tion. After re­in­stalling the firmware, my desk­top ma­chine rec­og­nized the de­vice, and charg­ing was back to nor­mal. Sometime later I gave the MP3 player a spin, and it worked well. Nice.

My guess is that some­how the in­ter­nal bat­tery level checker, hard­ware or soft­ware, had some er­rors. The MP3 player thought that it was fully charged, but ac­tu­ally only 2% or so. The boot process was dis­rupted due to low bat­tery, which caused all kinds of weird is­sues. Finally, re­in­stalling the firmware cal­i­brated the bat­ter level checker or some­thing, and made all prob­lems go away.

I ac­tu­ally did this quite a while ago. Now, at the time of writ­ing this post, the bat­tery of that MP3 player is de­pleted again. Interestingly, this time every­thing works. The de­vice is rec­og­nized by my desk­top im­me­di­ately, and charg­ing seems fine. Maybe my guess above is not that bad.

To sum it up, re­in­stalling the firmware might be help­ful when deal­ing with a dead bat­tery. This prob­a­bly does­n’t work every time, but it’s worth a try.