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Sandisk Sansa Clip+ with cables

Big sound from budget player

Review: SanDisk Sansa Clip+
Small. Plastic. Slightly – no, very – cheap looking. But look past the dodgy aesthetics and listen with your ears. The Sansa Clip+ works where it counts most – playing music. A strange comment for a music player, but in this age of multi-multi-function devices with extra-extra features, sometimes you gotta think what you are buying your gadget to actually do.

The Clip+ is an update of the Clip, a popular player with those who either can’t afford, or can’t abide, Apple’s ubiquitous mp3 players. They’re popular with the audio crowd, as the Clip not only has a pretty decent output stage to drive even fairly meaty headphones, but also plays a variety of formats: mp3, WMA, Audible, even Ogg Vorbis and FLAC, the lossless audiophile favourite.

Sandisk 4GB Sansa Clip+ colours
It’s also expandable via microSDHC, unlike it’s fruity competitors, so you buy the 4GB model, and then (for not an lot of extra wonga), you dob in another 4, 8, 16 or as much as 32GB. Not too shabby for a $40 player (note: in some markets, you can pay twice this, for shame you scumbag importers and retailers).

It is price-positioned against the Shuffle, but it’s really a Nano-beater, as it has a screen and controls and some bells and whistles. It certainly doesn’t have the stupendously pretty machined aluminium case and cover-art-tastic casing of the Nano, but it’s also less than a third of the price.

Quality Sound Quality
Music-wise, it’s at least on a par with its more expensive rival (here’s exhaustive testing of frequency response, distorion, etc). It may not have the pure response of a proper dedicated headphone amp, but it certainly holds its own with a well engineered low-impedance output amplifier. Music controls are fairly limited, you get an equaliser, and that’s about it. It can do on the go playlists and wotnot, but it’s a line-em-up-and-hit-play kind of device.

It also has an FM radio with 40 presets and a built-in microphone to act as a voice recorder (although you’d have to leave it well alone on the table while recording, any touching of the case will drown out voices).

And that’s pretty much it. Simple music player, does the job well, at a budget price, isn’t going to impress the ladies with its sleek style.

SanDisk wisely left well enough alone with the Clip+, keeping the previous Clip design generally unchanged, apart from some cosmetic changes and moving some keys around.

On the up-side, you don’t need to go anywhere near that confounded iTunes nonsense, you simply plug it into a USB port and it mounts as two separate flash drives (one for the device memory, one for the SD card, handy to keep things separate). Drag and drop from your file browser. Done.

You can even hack it with the more customisable Open Source Rockbox firmware.

The supplied headphones (as is generally the case) are adequate, but will need replacing with something decent if you’re really into your music fidelity.

Oh, and its rechargeable internal battery is supposed to last 15 hours, although that’s optimistic.
Who it’s for:

    • Anyone that listens to music on the go and wants a no mess, no fuss music player

What we like

    • It’s really good value for money
    • It produces really decent sound quality
    • The interface is a tad fiddly, but pretty straightforward

What we don’t like

  • Not terribly pretty
  • SanDisk’s documentation and general information presentation is pretty lackluster
  • They also don’t have a great distribution channel, so getting accessories (like an arm-strap for the gym) can be a hassle

Author Bio

Roger Hislop
Roger is a tech fan that is hot, hot, hot for well designed, clever, beautiful things that make our lives a little bit more amazing. He spends a lot of time geeking out in a house littered with bits of cable and electronics. He owns his own oscilloscope ferchrissakes.... More