By November 13, 2006

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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    Posted in: Reviews

    About the Author:

    More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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