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 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.

SanDisk slotRadio player comes pre-loaded with 1000 Billboard hits

SanDisk has been pushing a new technology called “slotMusic” for a couple of months. The product is essentially a SanDisk MicroSD memory card, pre-loaded with music. It’s a perfect solution for people who are scared of acquiring their own music, or who don’t want to bother with things like ripping a CD.

The newest product in the SlotMusic lineup, is a SanDisk Sansa player fully loaded with 1000 Billboard chart hits. You buy the slotRadio player, as well as 1000 songs, for a fairly reasonable $99.99. Once you are fed up with all the tunes, you can add a slotRadio card with another 1000 songs for just under $40 or single album slotMusic card for $14.99.

The player also features a built in FM radio, a 1.5″ color screen and a belt clip.

As a geek, I’m torn – the product clearly isn’t intended for me, I’ll either rip my own CD’s, or get my music “elsewhere”, but I can see a fully loaded MP3 player being a perfect solution for people who just want some music, and don’t have the time or energy to mess around with how to get it. Do you know how many people own an iPod but only use 10% of its storage space?

Somehow, I suspect that this new player would sell really well at your local airport, perhaps even being dispensed from a vending machine (sadly, the player will initially only be available at Radio Shack).

(Via: SanDisk press release)

Daily deal – Sandisk Sansa 1GB MP3 player for $6.99

My daily deal for today is for the Sandisk Sansa 1GB MP3 player. This little player runs off a single AAA battery for up to 19 hours. The device supports your own MP3 files, or subscription based music with the Microsoft “Playsforsure” system. 1GB should be sufficient for about 240 tracks.

At just $6.99 (with $5 for shipping) it is a real bargain, but I do need to point out that it is refurbished, so it will most likely not come in a regular retail box, which makes it slightly less suitable for giving as a gift. The price is right if you just need a cheap player to keep the kids quiet during an upcoming car or plane trip.

The Sandisk Sansa features a built in FM radio, voice recording and a 5 band equilizer.

The player is on sale through “Woot Sellout”, which is the storefront at Simply click that link, and in the middle of the page you’ll find the deal. The $5 shipping charge is valid for up to 3 units, so take maximum advantage of the price by ordering multiple players! As always with Woot deals, when they are sold out, they are gone, so don’t delay!