It’s a dilemma one encounters with many a portable player: manufacturers design nice hardware, but the accompanying firmwares lack in features and/or usability. The Samsung R0 is certainly not the player with the worst firmware out there, but Italian hacker Lorenz092 and his co-conspirators thought they could improve the user experience nevertheless.
Choosing the R0 as a modding target is certainly a smart move – the R0 is quite popular, has a nice aluminum housing with lots of tactile buttons, it is inexpensive – and it runs on Linux. Also, in the long run, modding its stock firmware might pave the way for a Rockbox port.
Currently, the modded firmware is at version 2.10 (based on official firmware 1.25). It features improved translations for several languages, removes the – for most people – annoying startup and shutdown sounds, changes the look of the battery status indicator, changes the key press time used for resetting the player, and – biggest of all – implements a Device Rescue Kit (DRK). This DRK feature basically means you can recover the player from being bricked, without having to sent it back to Samsung for fixing. Unbricking the player yourself sure beats paying money and waiting several weeks for it to return, methinks.
In future versions of his custom firmware Lorenz092 wants to implement a CPU downclocking feature, which might effectively double the R0′s battery life. Other planned features are integrating the player’s SD slot with its internal database, tweaking the sleep mode time, and several things more. This is getting very interesting.