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Sansa Clip Zip 4GB review: better than the iPod Shuffle

The Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player is all sorts of cheek-pinching cute. It weighs nothing, it’s got 4GB storage and a microSD slot for added gigs, support for audio books, a timer, FM radio, voice recording, a purported 15-hour battery life, a teeny 2.8cm colour screen and the worst headphones of all time. Best of all, it’s only US$50 for a damn decent MP3 player, but please replace the headphones with something “not shit”.

The Clip Zip

It’s a little cutie. Roughly the size and weight of a box of matches, the Clip Zip is a dandy replacement for your portable, steam-powered gramophone. The battery life of the Clip Zip is one of its highlights and I managed a full two days of music on a single charge. Usually I would harness the power of unprocessed nuclear rods to fuel my 60kg back-mounted record player, but at 17g, which is the weight of a heavy grape, who’s complaining? You’ll barely notice the tiny bugger mounted on your person.

I have very unique listening requirements, such as the sound of tinfoil slowly being folded over a raw potato. And it’s the Clip Zip’s duty to translate these digital files into crystal clear audio that resonates with my blackened soul. Happily, it does. The Clip Zip even manages to outperform the sound reproduction of my exorbitantly priced MacPro.

The test was as follows. After oiling up each port with a light spritz of extra-virgin computer spray (you know, for better sound), I loaded up my favourite tin-foil wrapping sounds and played them on my MacPro, an iPhone 5 and the Clip Zip. Here’s the results: the sound was crystal clear on each device. I plugged the jack in and out in a rambunctious manner, as to replicate the fevered hands of the tween who may purchase such a device. The jack holds up to many an insertion, and merriment quickly followed. It shocked me, it rocked me to my very core that a featherlight MP3 player can resonate sound as professionally as my overpriced MacPro. Please note that I did not use the default headphones, as these are a crime to humanity.

The design is fairly to extremely ugly. The Clip Zip ain’t got jack on Apple. While all the buttons click well and the music plays as it should, it’s as if Sansa just took all the components of an MP3 player and crammed them into one dwarf-sized device.

The headphones

“Piece of crap” is not a term I throw around often, unless I’m reviewing a certain Microsoft tablet. But these headphones qualify. Jumping from an inner ear Samsung headset to a Sansa-labled piece of Chinese rubbish is a damning experience. Audio quality is terrible, with distinct echo on every track. Inner ear headphones are the bomb, man. I expect these to distort and ultimately fail within a month. And of course, any headphones with a foam ear cushion are cruising for a bruising. And by that I mean the foam will tear, this is a certainty.

The clip

It clips.

The interface

How I guffawed at the 2.79cm screen. Usually, PPI or pixels per inch matter to me. But not today when I can count each enormous, beautiful, chubby pixel. The screen is very Gameboyish, but nay there shall be no hating of it. The “colour” screen, which is a purchasing incentive according to the box it came in, is retro-sexy at its finest.

Outside of music, there’s radio, audio books, voice recording, microSD card options, sport mode (which is simply a timer) and further settings. I won’t bore you with endless tales of menus and options, suffice it to say that everything works, and the beautifully solid buttons of the Clip Zip react with the ease and precision of a concert pianist. Again, for such a mature (it was first released in 2011), well-priced device to work as well as the Clip Zip does, is a special treat reserved for only the most cynical of gadget journalists. I am that journalist, and part-time pottery tutor.

The end

I never needed or wanted a separate MP3 player in 2013. All I wanted was a 15-year old scotch and a crystal glass to drink it out of. But Sandisk gave me so much more. It gave me hope. It gave me a ray of sunshine in a room darker than a goth’s underwear drawer. It gave me (for a two-week review period) the Clip Zip. It’s cheaper than the iPod Shuffle, comes with a screen, has a slew of handy extras, and with a set of decent headphones the Clip Zip sings beautifully. Recommended.


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