Reviews

By January 7, 2007 Read More →

MircoCircuit review

MircoCircuit is by Viex Games and is available for both Pocket PC and Palm OS. It is considered a strategy game.

MicroCircuit

The basic idea of the game to get the different coloured cars safely around the track, by switching the crossroads, and return them to their garage within the time allowed.

MircoCircuit starts of very simply with one coloured car and simple figure-of-eight track with one crossroad. By the time you get up to level 12 there are four different car colours and 11 junctions to manage! You get an average of about 5 cars coming out of each garage on each level.

The game is over when two of the cars crash into each other (cars stop at the junctions if the road is the incorrect way!) or you run out of time on a level.

I enjoyed playing this as it my kind of game, however I think a little more thought could have been put in to the levels at it is really easy to start with and gets difficult very quickly, thus for me making it quite short lived. The thing I did like about it though was you could start at any level you had unlocked so you didn’t have to keep playing the basic levels and could come straight back to the harder levels. This makes it an ideal game to have on your phone as you can just pick it and continue from the level you were stuck on and it also means that you can complete just a level at a time and not have to worry about re-doing previously completed levels.

Overall a good game but does require some thought!

Check out MicroCircuit in our Mobile Game Shop.

Tracy

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Posted in: Reviews
By January 5, 2007 Read More →

Samsung i320 Review

Kerry Woo from the Gadgeteer has just published a great review of the Samsung SGH-i320 which, by the way, is now available on the Vodafone UK business website.

Samsung i320

“I am simply amazed at how cell phones have evolved from the “portable” bag phone to today’s vast selection of featured laden mobile phones. Built in cameras, music players, text messaging and voice dialing are just some of the options available in mix and match feature laden phones. Add to the mix WiFi and Bluetooth, push email, robust calendar and contact management with Internet access plus a large catalog of third party software makes today’s smartphone a compelling reason to leave the laptop at home.”

Samsung SGH-i320 Specification

  • Standard: GPRS Class 10 (900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • Camera: 1.3 Megapixel Camera
  • Display: 2.3” 240×320 65K Color TFT
  • OS: Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone
  • Push Email (Messaging & Security Feature Pack)
  • Input: QWERTY Keyboard
  • Video Recording & Messaging (MPEG4 / H.263)
  • Audio: MP3/ AAC / AAC+ / WMA/ WAV / OGG
  • Dual Speaker / Speakerphone
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 2 EDR / USB
  • Memory: 120MB embedded , External Memory (microSD)
  • Size: Slim Design: 111 x 59 x 12mm
  • Weight: 95g
  • 140 hours standby, 200 minutes talk time
  • Read the full review here.

    Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By January 2, 2007 Read More →

    Cingular 8525 Review

    Our friend Fabien has been busy again and has just completed his review of the Cingular 8525.

    Cingular 8525

    The 8525 is Cingular’s version of the HTC Hermes. One thing to note is the lack of front facing camera on the Cingular version.

    “If you love your Wizard/Qtek 9100 device and plan to get a new device running under Windows Mobile 5.0, the Cingular 8525 is a perfect update. It’s the most wanted mobile right now in United State and there’s no doubt why. It has plenty of power and packs everything needed into one device. The only bad point I will make about this device is the mini USB stereo plug…I still don’t understand where this idea come from! I won’t complain about the lack of a camera on the front of the device knowing that the video call service is a long way away.”

    Check out the full review over at Dafabmobiles.

    Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By December 26, 2006 Read More →

    Parrot DRIVER HEADSET review.

    ABOUT
    The Parrot Hands-free Headset (DRIVER HEADSET) consists of a Bluetooth headset and a cradle that is both a holder for the headset and a charger that plugs directly into your car’s cigarette lighter socket (12V).

    Parrot DRIVER HEADSET

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    On first looking at the package I was slightly scared by the size of the ‘bud’ on the headset as it looked huge, but in practise it’s not and fits into the ear with no problems.

    DRIVER HEADSET

    USAGE
    So, the operation of this kit is to plug the charger dock into the cigarette lighter, and then the headset slides into the top, with a push mechanism to retain it – nice solid click in and click out. The cradle also features a buzzer that sounds on incoming calls.

    When the headset is in the cradle and charging, the status LED on the top of the headset blinks red slowly.

    DRIVER HEADSET 2 Part

    You pair the headset as you would any other Bluetooth device on your phone and once paired the status LED blinks blue slowly. Whilst not paired the headset’s status LED blinks alternate blue and red.

    The headset has a volume up, volume down and an On/Off button (which is used to start/end calls). You can also use the headset for voice dialing as well.

    DRIVER HEADSET Top DRIVER HEADSET Side

    So all fairly standard stuff on the headset side of things.

    I also managed to hook it up to the PC for use with Skype 😀

    PROS

  • Obviously as a headset it allows you to legally make/receive calls whilst driving.
  • The headset is light enough that it doesn’t really bother you much in the ear.
  • The cradle buzzer lets you know about incoming calls no matter where you’ve shoved the handset
  • The charging dock doubling as a holding cradle means that you always know where the headset is whilst driving.
  • good battery life
  • CONS

  • for me, the headset just didn’t stay put – without the ’round the ear’ hook that some other headsets have, it just kept slipping down, so I found myself continually adjusting it :S
  • you HAVE to charge the headset with the cradle, there is no other way, so if you aren’t in your car that day, then you are out of luck.
  • the blue / red flashing of the status led can be confusing if the headset is in the cradle and you have already plugged the cradle into the lighter socket, and you are trying to pair to the headset
  • Overall
    If you are someone that only wants a headset when you are driving, and the headset doesn’t slip in your ear, then this headset is probably great.

    For me personally, whilst it was light enough to stay in the ear without bothering me, the fact that it didn’t stay put in one place was distracting.

    Parrot DRIVER HEADSET Specification

  • Headset with automatic pick up/hang up
  • Volume adjustment via two buttons
  • Button for call management
  • Ringtone and LED for incoming calls
  • Bluecore 3 processor
  • 10 mm speaker
  • 3 high-intensity LEDs
  • NiMH 90 mA battery
  • Reset controller
  • 5 hours’ talk time on a full charge off the cradle
  • Cradle: L=130mm W=58mm D=35mm
  • Total weight: 60 grams
  • Headset: L=68mm W=25mm D=23mm (with insert)
  • Headset weight: 14 grams
  • Review by Iain

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By December 17, 2006 Read More →

    HTC P4350 (aka HTC Herald) review

    Paul over at MoDaCo has just published his review of the HTC P4350 (aka HTC Herald).

    HTC P4350 open

    Everyone seems to be talking about the Herald and many seem to be excited about the idea of a thinner device with a keyboard or an updated version of the K-Jam. However, Paul seems to be rather disapointed with the P4350.

    “Think of the Herald in one of two ways. It’s either a slimmed down and slightly tweaked Wizard, or it’s a Prophet (i-mate JAMin, SPV M600) with a slide out keyboard without gaining any additional size.”

    “The first point worthy of note is the weight! At a hefty 174g on our scales (14g more than the quoted weight), it’s substantial. Small it may be, but light it ain’t By comparison, the Prophet tips the scales at 148g, the Wizard a closer 169g. It’s the heavy weight compared with the diminuitive size that is so strange… one can only assume the solid keyboard mechanism is to blame.”

    Check out Paul’s full review HERE.

    HTC P4350 (HTC Herald) Specification

  • Quadband GSM with EDGE
  • TI OMAP 850 processor
  • Slide-out QWERTY keypad
  • 2-megapixel CMOS camera
  • 2.8-inch 340×240-pixel LCD with 65K-color support
  • 128MB ROM; 64MB RAM
  • microSD expansion slot
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP and AVRCP
  • WiFi 802.11g, USB and infrared
  • Size: 109 x 59 x 17mm; 168g
  • See the full specification on the HTC product page.

    Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By December 8, 2006 Read More →

    HTC P4350 (aka HTC Herald) reviewed

    Brody over at MSMobileNews has just completed his review of the HTC P4350 (aka HTC Herald).

    HTC P4350

    Brody has done a sterling job with the review and there are a lot of great photos to help illustrate his points. This is how he sums it up:

    “So would I spend my hard-earned cash on a HTC P4350? Well at £379.95 inc VAT its no doubt going to be in need of a subsidised contract however it’s a really great device and one that I’m confident will find its way into many people’s pockets in the near future.”

    Check out the full review over at MSMobileNews.

    HTC P4350 Specification

  • Quadband GSM with EDGE
  • TI OMAP 850 processor
  • Slide-out QWERTY keypad
  • 2-megapixel CMOS camera
  • 2.8-inch 340×240-pixel LCD with 65K-color support
  • 128MB ROM; 64MB RAM
  • microSD expansion slot
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP and AVRCP
  • WiFi 802.11g, USB and infrared
  • Size: 109 x 59 x 17mm; 168g
  • See the full spec on the HTC product page.

    Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By December 7, 2006 Read More →

    Brando Hermes Music Dock Review

    A while ago Brando Workshop announced that they were to produce a music dock for HTC Hermes based devices. As soon as it became available we just had to get one to review. ‘Orange M3100 Docking Cradle’ and ‘HTC TyTN Docking Cradle’ are two of the more popular search phrases on the site at the moment.

    The TyTN Music Dock is of a silver-grey colour which closely matches the TyTN. It measures a mere 176 x 70 x 42 mm and is of a decent weight which makes it feel quite sturdy when you place your device in it. The placement of the phone connector at the bottom of the unit is better than on other docking solutions which means that the device slides into place a lot easier. The soft rubber feet mean that it stays put on your desk.

    Brando Music Dock

    The cradle comes with the required USB cable to plug it into your PC and a mains adapter if you want to charge your device without using a PC. It also comes with a 3.5mm Stereo cable so that you can use other audio equipment with the dock. As with the standard Hermes Dock that Brando make, there is a blue LED to indicate that the unit is powered up. Fortunately the LED isn’t as bright on this unit and is a lot less distracting.

    Having docked my Orange M3100 I connected the unit to my PC using the supplied USB cable and straight away ActiveSync found the device and synchronised.

    Brando Music Dock Front Brando Music Dock Back

    The SPV M3100 looks just as nice in the Music Dock as the TyTN, in fact I quite like the black and silver contrast. Both devices fit in the Dock perfectly.

    The cradle is suitable for Dopod CHT9000, Qtek 9600, i-Mate JasJam, O2 XDA Trion, HTC TyTN, HTC Hermes, htc Z, Orange SPV M3100 and T-Mobile MDA vario II devices.

    Having tried the Music Dock with my SPV M3100 I have to say that I’m impressed with the sound quality. It’s a whole lot better than the M3100 loudspeaker. You are never going to get powerful bass out of such a small set of speakers but the range is pretty good and, using the volume control on the top of the dock, it goes pretty loud!

    Brando Music Dock Top

    The only criticism I have of the dock is that there is no socket to attach headphones. A headphone socket would be pretty good as it would mean that you could sync and charge your device at the same time as being able to use headphones.

    Overall the Music Dock works well and the sound quality, for such a small unit is pretty good. For the money, around £15 + p&p, I think it’s a bargain!

    Visit Brando Workshop for more information.

    We’ll be giving one of these Brando Music Dock units away as part of ’12 Days of Christmas’ competition later this week.

    Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By December 3, 2006 Read More →

    Number Dropper game Review

    When Matt asked me if I wanted to review some games for my phone I wasn’t sure as I really don’t use my phone that much nor did I know when I would fidn the time to play games but I thought why not!

    So the first game I have chosen to review is number dropper. It is only available on Pocket PC.

    Number Dropper

    Number Dropper is a very a simple idea, it’s somewhere between Tetris and Bookworm. It involves falling tiles. You have to remove all the tiles before they fill the screen. Each of the tiles has a number on and you can only remove tiles by clicking on the tile numbers that add up to the number at the top of the screen. Sounds easy and it starts off easy but soon gets more tricky!

    Number Dropper Screen

    In later levels bonus tiles are added. The golden bonus tile when used as part of a number chain removes the numbers from the remaining tiles for a short period and this enables you to remove the tiles where two or more of the same colour are touching.

    Even further in to the game levels there are locked tiles which only show their number once they have been allowed to fall. In later levels some of the tiles have negative numbers on them!

    This game has a very simple concept but is highly addictive and easy to play. I even gave it to Matt’s mum to play and despite the fact that she has never used a PocketPC before, she picked it up straight away and got hooked so much so that she ran the battery completely flat.

    I would recommend this game as it is easy to learn and you can pick it up for a quick game now and then. Later levels get quite tricky as the target number at the top gets bigger so you have to do your mental arithmatic on the fly. It’s good brain exercise whist still being a lot of addictive fun!

    Check Number Dropper on ClickGamer.

    Tracy

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By November 27, 2006 Read More →

    Parrot MINIKIT Hands-free Speakerphone review

    I’m sure that everyone knows by now that using a mobile phone in your car without some form of hands-free apparatus has been illegal in the UK since the end of 2003.

    Hands-free Speakerphone

    As I do a lot more driving these days I asked Matt to get me a in-car holder/charger for my T-mobile MDA so that I could use it legally with my Bluetooth Headset.

    The trouble, I found, with Bluetooth headsets is that the sound quality isn’t that great for either party during the call. Several we tried seemed to pick up the road noise over and above my voice. The other problem I had was that it was never charged when I needed it!

    The other option was to have a Bluetooth car kit fitted to my car. However I really didn’t want to do that. Firstly they seem to be quite expensive and they also need (ideally) professional installation. As my car is new I didn’t really want to have someone fitting anything to it.

    When I found out about the Parrot MINIKIT hands-free speakerphone I asked Matt to get me one to try as it looked ideal. No installation necessary, just charge it up and use it!

    MINIKIT box

    A few days later the Parrot MINIKIT arrived and we charged it up for the prescribed amount of time. Pairing with MINIKIT with my phone was so simple, exactly the same way as you would deal with a Bluetooth headset.

    The Parrot MINIKIT requires only three buttons to operate it. There are buttons to make and end the call plus the big button in the middle that serves as a menu button and volume control. As there is no screen on this MINIKIT the menus are accessed by voice prompt which allows you to change things like the language setting, volume settings and Bluetooth pairing. In practice I don’t think you’ll need to use the menus at all.

    Parrot MINIKIT Parrot MINIKIT bottom

    The MINIKIT can be ‘installed’ in the car in one of two ways. Firstly, thanks to the soft rubber feet on the bottom, it can be simply placed on the dashboard of your car and used in that way. The feet are soft and ‘rubbery’ enough to stop it sliding around under all but the most extreme of vehicle manoeuvres. The only trouble with placing the MINIKIT on the dash is that it’s on show and you really have to hide it away when you leave the car.

    The other way and, in my opinion, the best way to fit it is to attach the metal clip which is included with the kit and clip it on to the drivers side sun visor. In this position it’s at the right height to pick up your voice and also nice and easy to reach in order to press any of the buttons. It also makes it unobtrusive and harder for a would-be thief to see.

    Parrot MINIKIT Fitted

    So what do I think of the Parrot MINIKIT?
    I’m very pleased with it actually. When I first used it I called Matt while I was driving to work just to try it out. Matt didn’t even know that I was in the car as all of the vehicle noise was cancelled out. Matt said that it was just like speaking to me on a regular phone. From my point of view the sound quality was great. The loudspeaker is certainly loud enough and very clear.

    Where it is mounted on the visor above my head is also ideal as I don’t have to fumble for a device sitting loose on the dash or look for a Bluetooth headset and pop it in my ear quickly before the caller rings off.

    The other thing that has really impressed me about the MINIKIT is the battery life. I’ve been using it for about 2 weeks now and it’s still on the first charge. I know I don’t use it a great deal but the standby time is amazing!

    What’s also important to me, being girly, is that there are no cables dangling or trailing from the unit to make my new car look untidy and nothing permanently fitted to my car.

    CONCLUSION
    I really like the Parrot MINIKIT, it’s ideal for me. I cant find anything bad to say about it! If you are someone that doesn’t get on well with Bluetooth headsets, or wants something a little bit better but without having anything too complicated or that needs to be installed then I would say that the MINIKIT is for you.

    At the RRP of £59 I think it’s an absolute bargain!

    Parrot MINIKIT Specification:

  • 3 button user interface.
  • 2W Hi-Fi speaker.
  • Omnidirectional microphone.
  • DSP-2 signal processing algorithms.
  • Built-in voice recognition software.
  • Pairing: up to five phones.
  • Recharging time: three hours maximum.
  • Talk time: 10 hours.
  • Standby time: over 275 hours.
  • Bluetooth:

  • Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth v1.2
  • Profiles supported: –
  •      •   Headset Profile HSP 1.1

         •   Hands-free Profile HFP 1.0

         •   Object Push Profile OPP

  • Maximum range: 10 metres
  • Phone pairing: by PIN code
  • Software updates by Bluetooth
  • Processor: Parrot P4 + at 64MHz; Combo flash = 16Mbits; RAM = 2Mbits
  • Dimensions: Height = 110 mm; Width = 63 mm; Depth = 28 mm; Weight = 104 grammes
  • For more information and where to buy, please visit the Parrot website.

    Tracy

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    By November 13, 2006 Read More →

    SanDisk Sansa e270 MP3 player review

    There is no denying that there are a lot of MP3 players on the market at the moment. Players range from under £20 to several hundred pounds and capacities of 128mb to over 100gb.

    SanDisk is a name that most people will recognise and associate with memory products. However SanDisk has fairly recently launched a new range of MP3 players. The Sansa e200 series has players ranging in capacity from 2 to 8gb. Here we are reviewing the e270 which is the 6gb model.

    SanDisk Sansa e270

    The Sansa comes in a rather attractive looking box and the contents are well laid out and presented. It’s always nice to see some effort going in to the packaging, especially as MP3 players are very often given as gifts.

    Sansa Box Sansa Box Contents

    Design

    The Sansa e270 is a sleek looking device, glossy black on the front with a metal alloy back which is said to be extremely scratch resistant. It measures 88 x 44 x 13mm and weighs in at a mere 75g. The alloy back feels nice in the palm of your hand. It has a similar look to the iPod Nano but is slightly larger and heavier. Personally I quite like this as I find the Nano just a bit too small. On the back you’ll also find four screws. These allow you to remove the back and replace the li-ion battery. SanDisk sell replacement batteries for around £15. This is a great idea and one area that the Sansa shows the iPod a thing or two!

    Sansa Front Sansa Back

    The e270 has a 1.8″ colour display in portrait orientation. This takes up almost half of the front of the device. It has a maximum resolution of 176×220 and 65,000 colours. The large display allows for a decent navigation system and is both sharp and well lit.

    Below the screen you find the navigation buttons. This includes a ‘Thumb Wheel’ which seems to have become a prerequisite on MP3 players these days. The thumb wheel differs from the Click Wheel that you find on iPod’s in that it is mechanical rather than touch sensitive. The thin circular dial has raised bumps which makes it easy to use while spinning the wheel provides tactile feedback. I like this method of navigation but found the dial sticks up from the chassis just a bit too much for me, it made pressing the surrounding buttons a bit tricky for my fat fingers. This is only a minor issue though.

    Thumb Wheel Thumb Wheel

    Looking at the rest of the Sansa, on the right hand side we find a microSD card slot. This is an excellent feature which allows us to increase the memory capacity of the player by up to 2gb (at the moment). The left hand side has a record button. This allows us to record voice notes straight on to the Sansa. I like this idea.

    Sansa Left Hand Side
    Sansa Right Hand Side

    On the top of the device you’ll find the headphone socket a lock switch and the microphone. The headphone socket is a standard 3.5mm jack which allows you to use any standard headphones. The lock switch is another nice feature, there is nothing more annoying than accidentally pressing the buttons when you get MP3 players in and out of your pocket or find that the battery is flat as it’s turned itself on in your bag.

    The bottom of the player is where you will find the ‘dock connector’. This is where you plug in your USB cable to charge or to upload content. This is a proprietary connector similar to that found on an iPod. It allows you to connect the Sansa to Various Accessories. I dislike devices having proprietary connectors. I understand that it is to allow for accessories to be connected but, if like me you want to charge the player both at home and at work, it does mean that you have to either carry another USB cable around with you or else purchase an extra one.

    Sansa Top Sansa Bottom

    Also in the box you will find a pouch to put the player in, a lanyard and some headphones. The headphones aren’t actually that bad considering they are the ones bundled with the device. I have seen, or rather heard, a lot worse in the past.

    Sansa Headphones

    Software

    Navigating through the menus on the Sansa could not be easier. The interface is extremely intuitive and simple to use. The main menu is icon based and offers us the choice of Music, Photo, Voice, Video and Settings. These are all accessed using the thumb wheel. Each section has a sub menu which is again navigated using the thumb wheel.

    Music Music 2 Photo Video Voice Settings

    The music library filters are pretty standard on the SanDisk Sansa e200, with Play All tracks up top, along with Artists, Album, Songs, Genres, My Top Rated, Recordings, and Playlists as options. On the playback screen, you get thumbnail album art, track info, and a time-elapsed meter. Pressing the select button takes you to a neat graphic-level meter, full-size album art, and the next song.

    As mentioned before the screen is reasonable large and well lit. I uploaded some photos to the Sansa and was quite impressed with how good they looked. However this looking at photos on the device does show up another niggle. The viewing angle of the screen is quite narrow and looking at the screen in portrait can strain your eyes after a while as the view you get with each eye is slightly different. If you turn the screen 90 to landscape it’s much better.

    There is also a PC application on the supplied CD. ‘Sansa Media Converter’ is a tool for converting and uploading content to the player. It will convert Music as well and Video and Photos into a format compatible with the device. I was quite impressed with the software’s ability to convert DivX video clips, although this process is somewhat time consuming. However, as the connection to the Sansa is USB 2.0, once the media is ready the upload speed is pretty fast.

    Sound Quality

    So lets get down to the important matter of the sound quality. I have tried a lot of MP3 players in the past from cheap players that come free with your cornflakes to expensive high end equipment. I have to say that in a blind sound test I would definitely have to put the Sansa at the top end of the spectrum. I listened to hours of music on the supplied headphones and on my own quality headphones and also connected the player up to my hi-fi. There is plenty of range to the playback. The low end isn’t quite as tight as it could be but playing with the equalizer sorted that out.

    One of the first things a new user should do is download the latest firmware from SanDisk. The installed firmware has a really limited volume level, couple this with average headphones and the experience isn’t great. However the latest firmware has an option in the settings menu for volume and you can set this to high. It makes a big difference. The latest firmware also adds a custom setting to the equalizer.

    Sansa e270 Specification:

  • Sleek, thin design with large 1.8” TFT colour screen for easy viewing
  • Strong alloy metal casing provides excellent durability and scratch resistance
  • Simple to use, backlit controls for fast device interface navigation
  • User replaceable and rechargeable Lithium Ion battery for up to 20 hours of battery life
  • Features microSD™ expansion slot for additional memory capacity
  • Supports SanDisk TrustedFlash and Gruvi content cards
  • voice recording
  • Supports Subscription Music Stores
  • Two year warranty
  • Package Contents

  • Sansa e200 Series Player
  • Travel pouch and lanyard
  • Stereo headphones
  • Lithium Ion rechargeable battery
  • USB cable
  • Quick Start Guide, CD with User Guide
  • Conclusions

    Overall I really like the Sansa. I have been using it for about a week and have found it to be a very capable device. The battery life is every bit as good as they claim, I’ve only needed to charge it once during testing. This equates to about 15 hours which is very good when you consider that I have been playing with the menu system and looking at photos rather than simply listening to music.

    The sound quality, with my decent headphones, is fantastic and the minor niggles I have with it are nothing when you look at the complete package. I think the Sansa is better than any other MP3 player I have ever had, it offers excellent value for money and is well worth considering.

    Matt

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