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All you never wanted to know

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:new: 2008-12-31

SanDisk Sansa Feature Bits

The Sansa’s have different features for different countries/regions. E.g. the Japanese radio frequencies ranging from 76 to 90 MHz are partly used for Police radio and thus it is not allowed to tune to these forbidden frequencies.

SanDisk achieved this by removing the Japan region from the Radio region selector. In European models of the FUZE you will only find “USA” and “World” as options in this setting.

Another example is the missing “Hebrew” language for “Arabic” regions and vice-versa.

Now the exciting part: If you download firmware files of the same version for different regions (e.g. from daniel.haxx.se) you’ll notice that ALL firmware files have the same checksum. So how does the player decide which features to enable and which to leave disabled?

As the freaks of the RockBox team pointed out in their forums, those feature bits are controlled by the filename of the firmware file.

The Sansa Updater of SanDisk seems to download a new firmware and put it into the root of the player named as fuzp.bin. This way the firmware gets updated without changing any feature-bit. An European player stays an European player.

BUT, if you name the file fuzpA.bin, the player will set the feature bits for the USA and thus the Japan radio region will become available. If you have the European version without FM radio, you might want to try naming the file fuzpF.bin to get the FM radio feature. From what I’ve read, it is only disabled by firmware with the hardware still built-in.

To get most of your player, you should name the firmware file fuzpT.bin so that all feature bits get set.

Feature overview

  F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 Region
A (41) X     X   X   Americas / World
E (45)       X       Europe (no FM radio)
F (46) X     X       Europe
G (47)   X   X 15     Israel (no FM radio)
H (48) X X   X 15     Israel
M (4d)     X X 17     Arabic (no FM radio)
N (4e) X   X X 17     Arabic
P (50) X     X   X   ?
S (53)       X   X   South America? (no FM)
T (54) X X X X   X X TEST mode firmware

Description of the flags (taken from the rockbox forums)

  • Flag 1: By looking at the way it varies, I’d bet that this flag means whether the radio is enabled or not. This seems consistent with bclick’s findings.
  • Flag 2 is only 1 for H, G and the test firmware. bclick reported that, in the m300, H and G were Hebrew and Greek respectively. So maybe this is an “allow alternate font” flag or something of the sort. Or, maybe, an option which controls whether Greek/Hebrew are present as options in the language selection dialog.
  • Flag 3 is only 1 for M, N and the test firmware. Same as above with “Arabic” (as bclick reported).
  • Flag 4 is always 1, so there’s no way of knowing what it means.
  • Flag 5 is probably the default font/character encoding. I recall bclick reporting that, in the m300, M and N looked “like Arabic” (flag = 17), G Greek, and H Hebrew (both flag = 15). All others use the default font. The fact that this is the only flag that the test mode does not set is also worth noting.
  • Flag 6: I don’t really know. Maybe whether the “high” volume option will appear on the menu?
    mbirth: might be the “Japan” radio range
  • Flag 7 is (quite probably) whether the “test” option will appear on the menu or not. It is only 01 for T, the test firmware.
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