Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SanDisk Sansa Fuze+MP3 Player Review

Today we test a new MP3 player from SanDisk, the Sansa Fuze+. In a world of iPhones and Android phones, we look at whether it’s worth buying a separate stand alone device, and also consider how useful it is for those who may be buying their first ever portable media device.

So without further ado let’s turn it up!

When using the phone, choices are made via a navigational touch pad, which you can either use like a normal pad (press right for right) or like a slider (slide from left to right for right). Both methods work and it’s a good step to make the device familiar to these who are Apple fans and those who have never owned an MP3 player before.

The device isn’t totally touch screen so you can’t click icons or song CD’s to choose songs. Instead you flick between the modes (music, video etc) and once you’ve made a choice you can pick a relevant category (song, artist, genre) to drill down. You can also shuffle everything and skip songs with the left and right buttons. Loading times between the selections are instant so wrong choices can be quickly fixed or media skipped.

There’s no software included so you need to use Windows Media Player, which did a good job of grabbing my existing iTunes files and letting me pass them over. Even purchased songs from iTunes worked fine when imported. Alternatively you can download extra software for free from the SanDisk website for adding videos and photos and converting them in to the right formats.

When you are listening to songs you can click in the centre of the navigational pad and rate the song, set it to repeat or add it to a playlist without interrupting the song. Some times I would press the centre accidentally when wanting to hit right or left. I hate temperamental touch screens, as they have to be totally accurate to be worth using instead of buttons and the Sansa Fuze+ doesn’t quite feel as refined as many of the better touch screen on the market.

At first I thought the developers had not included a lock function, which with the sensitive touch pad would have been a nightmare. The instruction manual doesn’t even tell you how to activate it, only that it’s another function of the play button. So by holding it down for a few seconds you will lock the MP3 player, and have to slide up to unlock it. A handy pouch is also included to protect the MP3 player, and further reduces the chance it will be unlocked easily.

Although I knew the device could record audio I wasn’t expecting it to be of a high quality given the entry level price point. So I was really pleased that not only was the sound quality good, but also that it did a great job of picking up my voice over the background noise. Having the headphones in whilst recording lets you hear back the quality, and you can pause a recording and then add extra bits to the same file later. Great for dictating on the go.

Any audio can then be exported off when you connect via USB to your computer. It’s a reminder of how poor the Satzuma USB Microphone was when listening to the good quality of the Sansa Fuze+.

So what else is on offer? Well there’s a separate section for podcasts, photos and radio stations. Yes you can do all of this on other devices, but not many for £75 and an 8GB hard drive. There’s the option to add extra storage via Micro SD cards, making for a very capable little MP3 player. Although as a down side the content you put on an SD card will remain in a separate item on the menu, rather than being nicely integrated in to your main song list.

It’s also a small size and hardly weighs anything (I had to keep checking I hadn’t lost it when I tried it out on a day trip to London). Overall it’s a good cheaper alternate to an iPod.

The real threat comes from smart phones. With so many phones with cross media functions it would be hard to justify buying this if you already have a smart phone, especially as there’s no Wi-Fi included. As for me I’m just finishing up my ‘dumb phone’ contract so it’s perfect and with the small size it isn’t too much of a hassle to carry this alongside my regular phone. It’s an effective way to transport media and overall the video and sound quality is good, with a healthy battery life lasting over 24 hours for audio and 5 for video.

Provided by: SanDisk

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Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).