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Sansa Clip Media Player

When MP3s Just Aren’t Enough

The Bullet Points: sansa_media_clip

The Sansa Clip media player by Sandisk is a portable, “wearable” media player with 1GB or 2GB of storage. The 2GB version comes in several colors; the 1GB version is black only. The Sansa Clip supports MP3, WMA, secure WMA, Audible audiobook formats and others. It has an FM tuner with 40 preset channels, and records voice with a built-in microphone. Battery life is 15 hours on its internal battery, and it recharges through a computer’s USB port. It features a 1” color LCD display and scroll ring navigation. It is 2”H x 1.4’W x 0.4”D and weighs less than 3 oz.

What’s In The Box:

Sansa Clip player, earbud-style earphones, 9” USB 2.0 transfer cable, single sheet Quick Start Guide.

The Review:

Blame Apple’s iPod, but there is an explosion of media players on the market these days. Apple makes a full range of iPods for audio and video, and everyone else has followed suit in pursuit of a piece of the portable player market. At the top end, they are thinly disguised multimedia computers: at the bottom end, they shrink in size and weight to a USB flash drive, on which they are commonly based. The Sansa Clip is in the latter category, and is slanted at the iPod Shuffle market.

The Sansa Clip is made by SanDisk, who has simply added media players to their memory product line. A logical move, as the devices’ core components are silicon memory. The Sansa line is a complete complement of media players with the Sansa Clip at the smallest end, a competitor to the iPod Shuffle. I have an iPod Shuffle, which I use a lot because of its simplicity. I do not want to spend time micromanaging my music collection or playlists. I most appreciate the feature after which the Shuffle is named; its ability to shuffle play the music in its memory. I least appreciate the fact that the Shuffle does not have any type of display, though given the simplicity of its use, I can’t say that I have missed it.

The Sansa Clip is about the same form factor as the newest iPod shuffle and mimics its wearable feature with a large clip on its back (hence the name). The Sansa Clip one-ups the iPod Shuffle by featuring a 1” LCD color display and by adding an FM tuner and voice recording capability. The Sansa Clip distinguishes itself by its ease of use. The volume control is removed from the scroll ring and operated by a rocker style control on the right side, similar to a mobile phone’s volume control. In use, this makes it easier to reach in a hurry without accidentally pressing the pause button, or worse, the skip button on the scroll ring. It also has a Home button adjacent to the scroll ring which is a shortcut to the top level menus. This gives direct access to the main features of the player, and simplifies navigation generally. The left side features a slide switch used to lock the mode in use against inadvertent change from accidentally brushing against the front panel controls. It also serves as a power/reset switch.

One of the best features of the Sansa Clip is its audio quality. It’s better than my iPod Shuffle. Given this fact, it’s surprising that they didn’t include better earphones. The included earbuds give rich and strong bass (which, I’m sure, appeals to its twenty-something target audience) but are a bit muddy in the middle range. Plugging in a set of JVC HA-FX300 earbuds gives much clearer tones and better isolation across the spectrum, and highlights the audio quality of the device more explicitly.

The tiny LCD display is the Sansa Clip’s most novel feature and its most entertaining (after playing music, that is). It’s bright and clear, even in sunlight, and the text is large enough to be easily readable. Icons are sprinkled throughout the menus and there is an appealing compliment of animation to many items. Color is intelligently used to distinguish different features on the screen, and text automatically scrolls where song titles overflow the screen size. The small display manages to convey a lot of information for its size. The display blanks after a few seconds of inactivity to save the battery.

The FM tuner has good sensitivity, maintaining a clear signal when moving around with the device clipped to your cloths. Tuning is accomplished by manually stepping through the frequencies with the scroll ring. Momentarily holding the scroll ring invokes scanning. There are 40 presets available, which are fairly easy to access. You can record from the radio, making the device useful for recording programs that you can listen to later.

The voice recording feature is straightforward. Surprisingly, it saves the file as a .WAV file. The bit rate is a respectable 256 kbps, so the fidelity is good. At that rate, it uses about 2 MB per minute or 120 MB per hour.

Battery life is about 15 hours, which is about twice that of the iPod Shuffle. The battery charges through the computer’s USB port, and charges completely in about 2 hours. Despite the 1GB capacity of the review unit, I generally don’t park that much music on it, preferring to change the selection often rather than assembling playlists. Used in this fashion, the battery easily stays charged during music changing sessions on the computer.

sansa_media_clip_2

In conclusion, the Salsa Clip is an attractive, feature rich media player that does a lot more than play MP3s. Great audio quality, sensible navigation and legible display make it a pleasure to use. Its battery life is twice that of the iPod Shuffle, and its only half the Shuffle’s price. It’s an entertainment center that you can clip to your shirt. Its miniscule weight makes it a perfect exercise companion. Its diminutive size guarantees that you can add it to your daily kit without burden. The clincher? It’s Cuteness Factor is high on the scale: it gets attention wherever you clip it. Highly recommended.

Information:

Sansa Clip

1 GB $39.95 2 GB $59.95
SanDisk Corp.
601 McCarthy Blvd.
Milpitas,CA 95305
408-801-1000
www.sandisk.com

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