MTP vs UMC (Or the end of freedom)

Sandisk Sansa ViewNo, its not a wrestling match. MTP stands for “Media Transfer Protocol“, a specification developed by Microsoft to replace the existing UMC technology, or “Universal Mass Storage Class“. You can read the Wikipedia article on MTP, but I can sum it up in a few points below:

  • MTP does not mount the same way as a UMC device, so there is no physical block to access (the way the USB thumb drives work, for instance)
  • MTP does not allow unrestricted access to your USB connected device the way that UMC does. (Similar to why you cannot copy files back off of an iPod.)
  • MTP allows additional extensions to its protocol including DRM, and encryption.
  • MTP is proprietary, and is only supported on Windows XP SP2 and later.

None of these items are pro-consumer, so it makes me suspicious why a free market would adopt them. Did the success of the iPod / iTunes lock-in fuel this new approach to media player connectivity? With limited access to the device (point #2), a consumer would be forced into using a specific software set to manage his/her media device. The flip-side is this limited access to the device could protect vital system files.

I smell something much more foul around the corner, and looking at the PlayForSure II certification, its easy to see where this is going:

PlaysForSure II is the next step in certification. It will totally eliminate the MSC mode for portable devices.

Kristin’s sister just got a Sandisk Sansa View for Christmas (a little early actually) because we have had such a positive experience with the Sandisk Sansa E280. The View boasted many positive new features – a larger screen, better video format support, better battery life, etc. Instead of being a great deal, the Sandisk Sansa View has silently opted to use MTP instead of UMC for file transfer.

So for anyone who stumbles across this post, consider the E series instead. Or if a Sandisk Sansa View is too tempting an offer, know that you can secretly revert back to UMC mode by placing the power slider button in the “lock” position, then holding down the left button on the wheel when you plug it in to your computer.


1 Comment

  1. Bellona says:

    Probably doesn’t make a difference but we held the button while plugging into the player itself. And yes, you have to do it every single time you plug it in.


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