Label your power cords – Hotel tip

Today’s tech-savvy world requires a lot of equipment to stay “plugged-in.” Cell phones, laptops, and MP3 players all require power cords to recharge. Since these items don’t need to be plugged in all the time, it’s easy to forget your power cords when checking out of a hotel.

Increase your chances of recovery by writing your name and contact information on a piece of masking tape and securing the tape to your power cord. Be sure to write clearly, and use an indelible marker, such as a Sharpie, so the information will not smear or rub off.

Before you check out, simply grab all the cords with your name on them. If you accidentally forget one, you can easily call the hotel and say, “I forgot my cord. Mine is the one with my name and address on it.”

Gadling gear review – Sandisk Sansa Clip+ MP3 player

It isn’t often that we’ll devote a Gadling gear review to something as “simple” as an MP3 player. But every now and then I come across a player that is just too much of a hidden gem to ignore. The Sandisk Sansa Clip+ is such a gem. This pocket player caught my attention for several reasons; a low price, memory expandability, easy operation, FM radio/voice record and a good display.

The Sansa Clip+ comes in three “flavors” 2GB, 4GB and 8GB. The cheapest version starts at just $39.99, followed by $49.99 (for the 4GB) and $69.99 for the 8GB. These prices put it at about 40% cheaper than the iPod Shuffle.

Operating the Sansa Clip+ is as simple as can be – you control it with a D-pad, center button and a home button. There is a separate power button and volume controls, so you don’t need to remember complicated key combinations to accomplish simple tasks. Getting music on the player is equally simple – you can “drag and drop”, or connect it to a PC running Windows Media Player. In Media Player, you can either drag individual tracks, or generate playlists.

Once on the player, you can browse by album, artist, genre, playlist or song. Obviously, this is how things work on 99% of the MP3 players on the market – so don’t count this as a “unique selling point”.

The Sansa Clip+ has a standard MiniUSB port (for syncing and charging). The advantage of this, is that it such a common plug, that you’ll be able to find chargers and spare cables very easily. The player does not come with a charger, and relies on your computer for its power. As the name implies, the Clip+ features a clip on the rear. It opens wide enough to attach it to your jacket, bag or other item.

Battery life is a manufacturer rated 15 hours – I tested it on several trips, and have no reason to doubt that rating. The headphone jack is on the side of the player – this obviously works fine for angled headphone jacks, but straight versions will mean your plug sticks out the side about an inch.

Audio from the Sansa Clip+ is surprisingly good – no noticeable background hiss, and a very decent equalizer. Audiophiles will never be content with digital music, but the circuitry in the Clip+ is obviously quite well designed. Best of all, the Sansa+ supports music in MP3, WMV, secure WMV, WAV, FLAC, OGG Vorbis and digital audiobook. That’s right – this $40 player has support for lossless and OGG music files!

If the built in memory is not enough for your collection, you can add your own MicroSD card. With cards as cheap as $20 for 8GB, you’ll be able to add more music without investing too much.

Browsing through the menu is simple. You scroll through Music, slotRadio, FM Radio, Voice and Settings. The slotRadio feature is one worth pointing out, as you’ll either love it, or hate it. Sandisk realized that not everyone owns a vast collection of digital music, and many people can’t be bothered to “rip” their CD collection.

The slotRadio MicroSD cards add pre-selected collections of music to several Sandisk players. These cards cost $39.99 each, and come with a whopping 1000 songs. Cards are available in ten different versions, all catering to a specific music taste. One downside to the cards is that you can not select to play an individual track – you need to pick one of seven pre-programmed playlists and listen to the music in that order. Still, 1000 songs for under $40 is a very decent deal – if you don’t want to deal with the hassles of acquiring your own music.

The Sansa Clip+ comes with a pair of generic headphones – not bad, but not the kind of buds you’d want to wear all day. I tested the Clip+ along with the Macally TurboTune pocket speaker. This 1/2 watt battery powered speaker is the perfect accessory for the player, and helps produce some very good sounding audio.

Final thoughts

In my gadget loving years, I’ve probably seen over 300 MP3 players pass through my hands. For some reason, the Clip+ just seems to stand out. Nothing about the player annoys me (something many other players do). The interface is good, the screen is great (nice OLED). The price is just right, and I can expand it. For traveling, it is the perfect little player – good battery life, small size, it doesn’t stand out in a crowd (or subway) like some fruity players do, and it does voice recording as well as FM radio.

All in all a solid little player which is worth some attention from anyone in the market for an MP3 player. Obviously, it won’t do video, and it won’t hold your 16,000 song collection. But if you just want your favorite travel tunes for on the road, it can’t be beat.

Product page: Sandisk Sansa Clip+

Daily deal – 32GB Creative Zen media player for $179

My daily deal for today is for the 32GB Creative Zen media player.

This device features music and video playback on a 2.5″ color screen.

The device also has a built in FM radio with 32 presets, a voice recorder, a clock/alarm and it can even synchronize your contacts and appointments from Microsoft Outlook!

The player usually retails for around $240, but is currently available directly from Creative for just $179.99.

A 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB version can also be found on their site. The 2GB is on sale for just $49.99. All orders over $75 ship for free. The device comes with a USB cable and a pair of headphones.

Daily gear deal – Archos 2GB MP3/video player for $30

My daily deal for today is perfect if you are low on budget, but high on requirements for an MP3 player.

This Archos 105 2GB media player features a 1.8″ OLED screen and is just 7mm thin. The device supports music from most popular formats, and video in the WMV format. The device even features a photo viewer, capable of viewing JPEG images.

The battery is capable of powering the device for about 18 hours, making it perfect for your upcoming long haul flight.

Reviews of the player are generally positive, but they do point out that video quality is quite poor, which makes sense with such a small screen.

Still, at just 40 cents over 30 bucks, it’s a real bargain, and if you need a couple of players to keep your kids (or significant other) quiet during your trip, it probably won’t disappoint you.

You’ll find the deal at Amazon, and since it is over $25, you’ll even get it shipped for free! The player comes with a quick start guide, headphones and a USB cable. To make the deal even better, 3-4 weeks after your purchase, Amazon will send you a redemption link where you can download $5 in free tunes from their music store!

Daily deal – 150 songs to entertain the kids for a buck

My daily deal for today won’t hold your clothes, doesn’t have any buttons, and won’t tell you which turn to take to reach your hotel, making it entirely different from any deals I’ve posted here in the past.

Instead, the deal is for 150 songs for kids, perfect for loading on your MP3 player, or for burning onto a CD to entertain them in the car on the way to your destination.

The normal “retail” value for this collection is about $132 (according to Amazon, even though they sell the CD version for $10), but you can buy all 150 tracks for just $0.99!

Best of all, like all Amazon MP3 downloads, there is no DRM protection on these tracks, so you can do whatever you want with them.

Before purchasing them, I recommend downloading the Amazon MP3 downloader, which is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. The application takes care of the download for you, and can even add the music to iTunes for you.