SanDisk is best known for its storage cards, but has just released a portable music player, the Sansa, in two capacities. We’ve reviewed the 1GB version which is silver and white in colour, but a 512MB alternative (blue and white) is also available.
It is certainly small: 2.9 x 2.17 x 0.55 inches, and light at 1.8oz including the AAA battery that provides, according to SanDisk, 17 hours of playback. It comes with a transparent protective case and an armband, presumably so that you can wear the thing while jogging.
The hardware is plastic, and the general build quality is not the highest we have seen. But don’t get the impression from that comment that the Sansa is shoddily put together. It isn’t. Just don’t expect gleaming metal or super-shiny finishes.
A USB 2.0 cable provides the PC connection, and when linked the Sansa shows up like a disk drive, so you can copy files across. It plays MP3, WMA and Audible Audio books, and there is a CD that gives you three free books along with some other trials. There is also an FM radio with 20 pre-sets, and a stopwatch on board the device itself.
As already noted, the player has 1GB of internal memory, but an SD card slot lets you expand this. We found this especially useful for copying across podcasts and other stuff that we only wanted to listen to once and then delete, as this could be done without the bother of making a physical connection.
Usability matters a lot with a portable player. The main buttons are large and on the front of the casing, with a wheel for volume control and scrolling through lists on the upper right edge, and a hold button on the left edge. It is pretty ergonomic and the screen displays enough information about the current track to be useful.
One of the nice touches is the ability to select a section of a track for repeated looping. Another is the ability to play all the tracks loaded in the last day, week or month, but note that you can’t set up playlists.
The headset SanDisk provides is an ‘in ear’ type and delivered pretty good output. An equaliser with some presets as well as some settings for boosting bass, 3D quality and so on lets you play around with the delivery, though frankly if you need plenty of definition from your audio you should look for a different player.