When you want to be a part of I-do-not-want-to-buy-an-iPod list, Sandisk has been on the progressive line of making feature-rich MP3 players. They have learned quite well from the past mistakes and have come out with great innovations in their new range of MP3 players. In the new Sansa range, they have improved the built quality; screen quality and sound quality. They have made something which can actually stand against the iPod Nano
Just look at the impression the Sansa makes on it’s user. It is under $100; packs more functionality than the iPod Nano; looks very sleek and is very fashionable. Packed with lot of great features like built in FM, video player, photo viewer and an great MP3 player, this one is not something to let go easily.
The Sandisk Sansa Fuze is just 2.0 inches wide by 3.1 inches tall by 0.3 inches deep. Due to those comfortable dimensions, it is very easy to hold in your hand. It has very nice illuminated job wheel in the middle which is used also used to change the volume when playing a song. It is a very well designed MP3 player. It has a rubberized back and glossy front, together making it look very snazzy. I would prefer the rubberized back of the Sansa way more than the slippery back of the iPod Nano any day. In other words, the Sansa does not look like the cheap MP3 players from China
What is there in the Box?
In the box, you will find Sandisk Sansa Fuze, USB cable for sync/charging and earbuds. Just like iPod Nano, there is no charging adapter. Fortunately, there are tons of after market accessories for the Sansa, so we need not panic :)
It has a 1.9″ screen just like the iPod Nano, which is it’s direct competitor. The resolution of the screen is quite poor at 224 x 176 and has 64k color depth. The contrast is good and text is very readable. Readability suffers a bit in sunlight, but crank up the brightness and you won’t face much problem.
User Interface and Features
The user interface is very responsive and fast. It is very intuitive and easy to use. If you have just added some songs to your device, it takes it few seconds to re-make the whole playlist.
The FM radio works well and the reception is more than satisfactory. The sound quality was crisp too. It can also record the audio. Recording is done in WAV format, which can result in huge sizes. Fortunately, space is not a problem here.
It has two view modes: thumbnails and view mode. Photos must be stored in the photo directory either in internal memory or in external micro-SDHC card. Each folder is shown as an album. Pictures were displayed fine. However, high resolution pictures took a while to load and look a little distorted too.
The Sandisk Sansa Fuze has built in voice recorder. The mic is located beneath the micro-SD slot. The recording is done in WAV format. Again, the file sizes can become very huge if you plan to do a lot of recording.
Audiobooks and Podcasts
Audiobooks can be found under the music menu. There is no bookmarking support. So, the next time you use the Sansa, you either have to resume or start from the very beginning.
It also has a hold button which locks all the buttons of the Sansa to prevent accidental press. This enables me to simply put the Sansa into my pocket and forget about it pressing against stuff in my pocket resulting in changing of the song or something else.
Hey I can expand!
Unlike iPod Nano, it comes with a micro-SD slot. This is not a normal micro-SD slot, it is SDHC capable. So, this makes expanding memory very easy. Theoretically, it can have 36GB of memory(32GB SDHC+ 4GB internal). At the time of the writing of this review, Sandisk has already announced the availability of 16GB micro-SDHC card and I’m pretty sure, 32GB is not a distant dream for a great company like Sandisk.
Alright, but how is the sound?
The sound with the given set of earphones is fantastic, comparable to the iPod Nano and sometimes even better than that. No disappointment in this department at all. It has all the hardware to provide you the great music experience, if not the best. The music is organized into artists, album, song and genre. It has support for ratings too.
This is not a video player. Yes, it can play video too, but it more like an add-on or extra feature. Sansa uses DivX format for video. There are two things that prevent me to use it as a video player. First is the low resolution (224×176). Your videos won’t be crisp at all. Secondly, it supports only upto 20FPS (frames per second). Those looking for smooth playback will be disappointed. The playback is descent enough for watching clips but not for those 30 minutes episodes.
It claims to have battery life of 24h with audio or 5h with video. I was able to sqeeze 20h of battery life while listening to audio, FM and watching a couple of short videos. So, I was pretty close to the claimed battery life. With just video, I was able to get 4.5 hours of battery life. Very happy with Sansa’s battery life.
Connectivity with the PC
The connectivity is plain and simple. Simply use the bundled cable and plug it in into the USB port. One annoying thing is that the cable is not the standard mini-USB cable. It is the Sandisk’s proprietary cable. Nevertheless, it worked well and charged our Sansa as well. I like the fact that you don’t need to install anything to get things started. Just plug in your Sansa and you are ready to download songs to your device. Here are a couple of screenshots:
The Sansa lives upto it’s expectations. It is a feature packed device that comes in lovely colors. It can sing, it can expand too. It has FM radio if you wish to listen to something other than what is there on your playlist. Coupled with support for Podcasts, this device is a great bang for the money! It is worth every single penny spent. Is it better than iPod Nano? Yes!
Here are some great pictures where I’ve compared the size of the Sansa with rest of my gadgets so that you can know how small it is! Note that it is just for fun
Sansa and Diamond
ASUS 1000H and Sansa Fuze
The family photo: HTC Diamond, Sandisk Sansa Fuze, ASUS EEE 701, ASUS 1000H, ACER 3620
Official Sansa Fuze link: http://www.sandisk.com/Products/Catalog(1256)-SanDisk_Sansa_Fuze.aspx
Thanks to sandisk for the review unit
October 5, 2008