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 deals – $49 MP3 player, $30 Bluetooth stereo headphones and more

Here are the hottest gadget deals for today, Thursday June 11th 2009. Remember, these deals are often only valid for one day, so act fast before they are gone!

Looking to cut some wires from your commute? How about these Plantronics Pulsar 260 Bluetooth stereo headphones? They are on sale at for just $29.99 with free shipping. With the new iPhone and iPod touch software update coming next week, you’ll be able to add wireless stereo music to your player. Click here for this deal.

Today’s cheap MP3 player comes from 1dealaday who are selling the highly rated Sandisk Sansa e270 media player for $49.99. The player supports many music and video formats and comes complete with an FM radio and a voice recorder. Thanks to its MicroSD expansion slot, you can expand it way past its standard 6GB limit. Click here for this deal.

If you regularly run out of power on your mobile device, then this $20 Duracell universal USB charger may be just what you need. The device can be charged using your desktop or laptop PC, and it can add as much as 30 hours of additional playback to an iPod or other music player. Click here for this deal.

Finally in today’s lineup, is a multi-tool which is perfect for outdoors fans, or if you still need something for Fathers Day. This Leatherman Core tool and C33LX knife normally sells for $100, but is currently on sale for just $45.41, with free shipping. Click here for this deal.

Daily gear deals – $35 computer backpack, 8GB media player and a portable speaker

Here are the hottest gadget deals for today, Monday June 1st 2009. Remember, these deals are often one-day deals, so act fast before they are gone!

Looking for a stylish way to carry your computer? Check out this SwissGear computer backpack – on sale for $34.96. Ships for free.

The Sandisk Sansa View 8GB media player has a built in FM radio and support for music, photos and video files. Best of all, it is on sale for just $42.99 at Shipping is $5.

Do you like music on the go? This Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 portable speaker is battery powered, and supplies an amazing amount of clear, crisp sound. Read our review from last year.

And finally – don’t forget to check out the other hot bargains lined up in the coupon aisle of our shopping portal.

Product review – SanDisk Sansa slotRadio player

SanDisk has been making MP3 players for several years, they may not be as popular as the iPod, but they have always had a very respectable lineup of players with a decent chunk of the market.

Last year, Sandisk launched the slotMusic concept, which combined pre-loaded music with cheap players. The product lineup includes MicroSD cards with preloaded albums (for $14.99) or a small player loaded with music for $34.99.

The newest product is the slotRadio player, which is an 2″ x 2″ MP3 player with a twist. This $99.99 player features a 1.5″ OLED monochrome screen, built in FM radio, MicroSD card slot, clip and MicroUSB charger plug.
Included with the player is a MicroSD memory card pre-loaded with 1000 Billboard songs. The songs are sorted in 7 categories:

  • Country (George Stait, Kenny Chesny and others)
  • Contemporary (Coldplay, Maroon 5 and others)
  • R&B/Hip Hop (Akon, Chris Brown and others)
  • Alternative (Hinder, Kaiser Chiefs and others)
  • Rock (3 Doors down, U2 and others)
  • Workout (Bestie Boys, Fatboy Slim and others)
  • Chillout (Shakira, Sarah MacLachlan and others)

Now, purchasing this music on a service like iTunes or Amazon would cost you $1000, there is however a twist involved in getting this much music and a player for just $99.99.

You can not select individual tracks and each playlist is pre-programmed. You can skip a track, but you can not go back to a previous track, select a track as “favorite” or even pick a specific track.

If you hear a track you really like, and want to hear it again, you’ll need to skip 100’s of other tracks to find that one song you want.

This may seem like a horrible system, and when compared to an iPod it really is a step backwards, but when you look at the player as a radio, it isn’t that bad at all.

For starters, you don’t have to screw around with getting your hands on music. Acquiring music may not be an issue for experienced users, but there are plenty of people out there with an iPod and just 50 songs. The whole concept of ripping CD’s, buying $1 tracks or (don’t try this at home) downloading music on a P2P system is just too complicated for many users.

On the front of the player are 2 arrow buttons, which are used to switch between the various playlists. On the right side is a skip track button, on the left side are 2 buttons for controlling the volume and on the top is the MicroSD card slot and the power/fm/music selector switch.

When you switch from playlist to playlist, the player does remember the song you were listening to, which means you won’t lose your spot in the middle of a song if you want to listen to something in a different playlist.

So, how well does the system work? Quite well actually – I won’t pretend that your average MP3 user will be too excited by the concept of a pre-determined playlist with no way to pick an individual track, but if you just want a no fuss player loaded with songs, the slotRadio player gets the job done.

One thing that you will need to keep in mind is that even though the player is loaded with 1000 songs, there may be playlists you’ll never use, which means the amount of tracks you will actually like is much lower.

In my case, I don’t listen to R&B/Hip Hop, which means I lost about 150 tracks. Add to that the amount of tracks I find in the other playlists that I don’t like (and will skip), and the amount of actual songs I get is about 600.

Controlling the player is nice and simple, and even though you can’t pick a song you like, you can skip the tracks you really don’t want to listen to.

The player itself is very well made, it has a very slick die-case aluminum back with a clip. The display may only be monochrome, but it displays some nice animations matching the playlist you are listening to.

The player has a rated battery life of 13 hours, which should be enough to get you through a long flight.

Since the player has its own MicroSD card slot, you can add your own memory cards to it, but you will run into the same restrictions as with the pre-loaded cards – you can’t go back to a previous track, and you can’t pick an individual track.

The included MicroSD card has some free space which you can use for your own music (free space is enough for about one album).

The integrated FM radio is simple works quite well – it seeks and shows station/track information (using RDS) and allows you to store presets.

As I mentioned earlier, I see the target market for this player in people who just don’t “get” the whole ripping and buying concept. The slotRadio player makes life really simple. You simply purchase it, plug in the headphones and start listening to music.

Opening the box does bring me to one of the biggest complaints I have about the slotRadio player – it is packaged in a plastic clamshell that requires power tools to open.

In addition to this, it also has a metal shelf hanging tag, making it even harder to get to your player.

I understand the need for theft protection, but if someone purchases this at an airport (I do hope they add these to airport stores and vending machines), they’ll have to wait till they get home to open it.

One of the other things I noticed is the lack of a hold button, especially since you can’t go back to a track you really like, not being able to lock the player is quite an omission.

The SanDisk Sansa slotRadio player comes in a nice plastic carrying case along with some (pretty basic) headphones, the pre-loaded Billboard MicroSD card, a tiny USB charger, MicroUSB cable and a free silicone case. It is available directly from SanDisk for $99.99 and currently comes with a free travel case.

I really like the slotRadio concept, and I think that the low price combined with easy access to this much music will appeal to a pretty decent portion of the (non iPod owning) market.

Every single person out there who doesn’t want to mess around with software and monthly music subscription services will probably love the device. If SanDisk manages to keep providing updated slotRadio cards, then they’ll keep customers coming back for more music.

Daily deal – 4GB Sandisk Cruzer Gator USB flash drive for $9.99

At some point in the past year, someone at Sandisk woke up one morning and had the amazing idea to make a USB flash drive with an alligator print.

The product description is even wackier- “The Cruzer Gator is available in black with a fashionable, stylish design to let everyone know exactly who you are by showing them your USB Flash Drive“. I’m guessing that is marketing talk for “I’m someone who likes to kill alligators”.

Either way, this 4GB USB flash drive is currently on sale over at for just $9.99, making it one of the cheapest options out there for a brand name flash drive. As always, orders at Amazon over $25 ship for free, so order a couple of these drives for your friends, or take advantage of the Amazon Prime service for free shipping.

With a flash drive, you’ll always have a compact place to store your files, but if you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can load the drive with portable versions of your favorite applications.

A great place to find portable apps, is the conveniently names The biggest advantage of these portable apps is that they all run off the USB memory drive, without the need to install anything to the host PC, making them perfect for public computers, or a work laptop.