By February 24, 2008

SanDisk Sansa View review

INTRODUCTION

The problem with any mp3 player these days, is that they will always, rightly or wrongly, be compared to the iPod brand of players. A lot of people don’t believe the iPod to be anywhere near the quality the apple marketing machine have it appear.

Having two mp3 players during the review gave me a chance to compare and contrast, and also see what the Sansa excels at. Sandisk are legends in the flash memory trade, so I guess it’s a pretty small jump to make a splash in the mp3 market.

SanDisk Sansa View

SanDisk Sansa View

The Sansa comes in a very small package – with just a carton inside holding the mp3 player itself, connection cable and earphones. Take a look at our unbox video for a more detailed look at the Sansa View.

SanDisk Sansa View specification:

  • 16GB internal flash memory
  • 2.4” 240 x 320 Colour TFT screen
  • FM Radio
  • Built in microphone for recording
  • Expandable MicroSD/SDHC™ card slot for additional storage
  • MPEG4 and WMV video support
  • 4.29 x 1.95 x 0.41″
  • DESIGN

    The new Sansa is more evolution than revolution. It certainly improves on older devices like the e270, but still maintains a similar look and feel to its predecessor. Still glossy black finish on the front, and a new rubberised back panel the view looks a lot more sturdy than the scratch-tastic back of most iPods.

    At 49.5 x 109mm x 10.4mm the View has actually filled out in comparison with earlier models, and is actually 3 times the size of the newest Nano’s. A deliberate differentiator? One thing I’ve noticed about my Nano though, is that it’s not exactly easy to hold – so the View’s form factor does have its benefits. The rubber back panel also feels nice and secure in the hand but perhaps doesn’t quite have the “coolness” of the Nano’s aluminium finish (however, nor does it have the scratches).

    SanDisk Sansa View back

    SanDisk Sansa View back

    I’d say the Sansa View also loses out to the Nano with its screen. Don’t worry Sandisk fans – it does get better! The 2.4inch screen has a resolution is 240×320 (and for the stupid, 320×240 in landscape mode), but doesn’t have anything close to the Nano’s vibrant 2inch display. Personally, as much as it pains me to say it, the View is not going to be a good choice for videos. However, it does have areas it excels in. As a tool for accessing the rather cool and usable navigation menu, its fine – and its large size helps for scrolling playlists and albums too. It’s also worth noting that the screen resolution, coupled with support for most apple codecs, means any iPod video converters and tools will work fine with the Sansa View

    We see the most major changes within the hardware navigation buttons. There’s a true ‘thumb wheel’ which I MUCH prefer to the fiddly Nano’s touch wheel. Some will have noticed from my Mobile reviews that I really dislike touch screens and panels in general – hardware buttons and wheels make things so much easier, and I put ease of use over looks every time (there are some rather vain reasons why I went for an iPod Nano I’m afraid). My only concern with the wheel, is whether it will get damaged in the pocket, since it is raised slightly from the main casing. Within the wheel, you also have a 4 way direction pad for even more functionality.

    There is also a dedicated button to return to the main menu towards the top right of the navigation wheel.

    SanDisk Sansa View left side

    SanDisk Sansa View left side

    On the right hand side the View starts to trounce the iPod with its microSD slot. Excellent feature, and all mp3 player manufacturers should be able to add a card slot at minimal cost, so there really is no excuse. SanDisk’s flash memory core business may have had something to do with it though!

    SanDisk Sansa View right side

    SanDisk Sansa View right side

    The bottom of the player is where the – sadly proprietary – dock connector lives, along with a standard 3.5inch audio jack. While we can moan about the proprietary connector, it is unfortunately common to almost all mp3 players now. What is a valid criticism though, is the jack location being on the bottom. On previous SanDisk models, the jack was located at the top of the player, which was useful when listening while it was docked on charge for example. Not sure why it was moved really.

    SanDisk Sansa View bottom

    SanDisk Sansa View bottom

    The Sansa earphones are good, if not great, and perfectly acceptable to get you started. Most audiophiles will have their own set anyway I guess.

    SOFTWARE

    Not a great deal of change to report really. Thing have been tidied up, but the interface was always good to look at, made sense and was easy to use. The scroll wheel suits the interface perfectly – and much better than the latest non-touch iPod. The main menu is icon based, but changes to text as we go deeper into mp3/video lists.

    The main menu consists of Music, Photo, Voice, Video, Extras and Settings, all selected with the scroll wheel.

    The music library filters are pretty standard to both Sandisk players, and players in general, with Play All tracks starting us off at the top, along with Artist, 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.

    Finally, confessional time – I didn’t even find the small CD containing the software until I had to send the device back. Based on previous experience, this will be a waste of time and almost certainly more annoying than using either the Removable drive, or MTP USB profiles built into windows. Transfer speed is not lightning, but is about bearable even filling up 16GB of space.

    Sound Quality

    Better than the Nano. Basically that’s what it boils down to. I can only judge on the supplied earphones, and since Apple don’t bother to supply decent quality buds, SanDisk wipe the floor – at least with supplied kit from each manufacturer. Don’t get me wrong – Sandisk have hardly pushed the boat out with their supplied ‘phones either – but they, coupled with the mp3 player itself seem to produce a better “out of the box” sound.

    There are various EQ modes and sound level adjustments available in the menu too which will help get the sound perfectly suited to various audio devices.

    Pros:

    AMAZING battery life. Seriously, I hardly charged it. I’ll try and add the SanDisk quoted figures later today, but take it from me – they are good.

    Massive storage. 16gb. The Nano doesn’t even attempt more than 8GB, so another 1-up for SanDisk

    Price point. These aren’t expensive, and like everything in this industry, its price will only drop.

    Cons:

    Not an iPod. If you are vain (And a bit sad admittedly), the lack of iPod branding is a Con. Sorry guys… but for some, that’s killer.

    Conclusion

    I like the Sansa. The price and storage capacity suit me down to the ground, but being SanDisk you’ll know the quality will be there too. While there are better and bigger brands available, very few can match the price vs storage vs quality benchmarks set by SanDisk

    Review by: Mark

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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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