Monday, December 15, 2008

Sansa Clip 4gb. My Review.

In some cases good things DO come in small packages. A great example is the Sansa Clip. Available with 1, 2 or 4gb of internal storage, the Clip is a great value for the money. Best Buy had the 4gb model on sale last week for $49, which means you can have 4 times the capacity and three times the features for the same price as the 1gb iPod Shuffle. The Clip even matches the Shuffle with 5 available colors (black, red, pink, blue, silver), although the 4gb version is only available in silver.

What you get with a Clip but not with a Shuffle is FM radio (including the ability to record it), and Voice Recording. You also get a small screen so you can see which application you're using and the song or channel you want to listen to. On the 4gb silver model the screen is hidden behind the mirrored front. It only appears when lit, showing through the mirror.

Controls are very simple and 'almost' intuitive to use. There is a Power and Hold slider on the left side next to the mini-USB port. The right side is where you find the volume +/- rocker and the headphone jack. The front features a 4-way control pad with center button and a separate Home button. Lastly there is a small hole for the microphone on the rear of the top edge.
The Music option is fairly complete. You won't see cover art, but you can chose a song by artist, album, songs, genre, top rated, playlist, podcast, audiobook, or recording. You can also simple select "Play All". Music play options include Shuffle (on/off) or Repeat (on/off). When a song is playing the small screen will display the artist, title, number (in the database), and progress. There is also a small icon to indicate when in shuffle mode.

The FM radio option is fairly straightforward. Once selected you see the current frequency along with a graph of your location in the entire frequency range. There are 4 radio options including Add Preset, Auto Presets. View All Presets, and Recording. If you select Recording you'll see three options including Record Now, Play Recordings, and Delete a Recording.

Voice Recording is also simple and direct. You can choose to Record Now, Play Recordings, or Delete a Recording. Voice is recorded as a WAV file. You can also play back FM or Voice recordings from the Music app.

The last option to choose on the Clip is Settings. There you will find a set of equalizer profiles, Power (power off time, and a Sleep setting), Display (backlight and brightness), Language, FM region and mode, Volume (normal or high), System Info, Reset All, Format, USB Mode (MTP, MSC, or autodetect), and "Press and Hold" (Add a song to Go list, or Rate a song).

The Clip package included the Clip, a set of earbud headphones, a (short!)USB cable, an installation disk, a BestBuy Music Store pamphlet, Safety Instructions, an Audible offer, and a nice "Let's get playing" guide.

Sound quality is excellent, even with the included earbuds. Very crisp, no static. I could easily pick out individual instruments from bass to piccolo. Even the subtle strumming of guitar strings was there.

I love the mirrored screen of the 4gb model. It gives depth to the display when backlit, and allows the clip to blend in via reflected surroundings.

Conclusion? If all you need is a clip-on music player, this little Sansa is a gem. Great capacity for the price. Extra features. Excellent sound. While not as "pretty" as the iPod Shuffle or Samsung S2 Pebble, you get FM radio and a Voice recorder for putting up with the dated aesthetics. The control pad is a little confusing, but easy to get used to. The player will return to the previously used function when turned on, which IMO is a feature you should be able to turn off. Even so, I recommend the Clip over a Shuffle or any other competition. You won't regret it. At $50, the 4gb silver clip will look GREAT under the Christmas tree. Put some holiday songs on it for an even warmer hit.


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