Falling somewhere between the Discman and most standard MP3 players is SanDisk's $20 Sansa slotMusic Player, an extremely basic device that works much like the original Walkman. The music media is strictly removable, songs play in album order, the battery is alkaline, and no computer is required to use it--but the player is much smaller and music playback requires no moving parts.
Following the announcement that SanDisk will attempt a renaissance of physical music media in the form of slotMusic MicroSD cards, the company is set to release an ultracheap Sansa MP3 player made specifically for the new album format. Dubbed the SanDisk Sansa slotMusic Player (creative, eh?), the device will sell for $19.99 and is possibly the simplest MP3 player I've laid hands on. There are virtually no features, no screen, and no internal memory. Simply pop a slotMusic card into the MicroSD slot on the left edge of the unit, plug the included headphones into the standard jack on the right edge, and hit play. Songs play in album order; you can pause playback and skip through tracks using buttons on the bottom of the device, and, of course, there are volume controls (by the headphone jack), but that about sums up the player's capabilities.
In fact, you don't even need a computer to use the Sansa slotMusic Player, and the package doesn't include a USB cable--there's no syncing port on the device anyway. Instead, SanDisk includes a USB adapter that can be plugged into the computer for transferring content directly to and from the card, and rather than having a built-in rechargeable cell, the unit is powered by a single AAA battery (rated for 15 hours), which is concealed beneath a removable faceplate that wraps around the player. (SanDisk plans to sell a variety of these "shells" in the future.) Although the device has a hefty and durable feel, it's relatively compact at 2.7 inches wide, 1.4 inches tall, and 0.6 inch deep. Put simply, this is SanDisk's digital answer to the original Walkman or the more recent Discman, without the heft or the skipping. And while the product model doesn't appeal to me or many other tech-savvy MP3 player owners, it could be just the transitional device needed to push feet-dragging friends or family into the MP3 age. (It's only 20 bucks, after all.)… Read more
No doubt about it: the Apple iPod Nano is an excellent MP3 player. It's ultraslim, generally easy to use, and has a high-quality feel and appealing extras such as a tilt sensor and a smart playlist feature called Genius. However, like all MP3 players, it's not perfect. Sound quality isn't great, there's still no user-definable EQ, and adding voice recording and an FM tuner requires that you drop more of your hard-earned cash. Luckily, if you're not convinced you want to hop on the Nano bandwagon, there's a handful of worthy alternatives, and most … Read more
For serious music junkies, there are few things in life more satisfying than having unlimited access to Rhapsody's all-you-can-download subscription music service. For a flat monthly fee, Rhapsody users can gorge on music downloads such as Kobayashi at a hot dog eating contest.
If you really want to get the most from a Rhapsody music subscription, however, you'll want to sync it to an MP3 player with Rhapsody DNA. These players typically offer a Rhapsody menu option right from their main menu, display Rhapsody files tagged with album art, and have proven themselves worthy of Rhapsody's stamp … Read more
When Jasmine and I evaluate MP3 players for CNET reviews, we always try to spend a few sentences describing any noticeable audio performance characteristics we detect during our subjective testing. We'll play around with all of the gadget's different EQ and sound enhancement options, listen back on our reference headphones, and run through a playlist of familiar music. We're only human, however, and hearing loss, ear wax, head congestion, and hangovers can skew our perceptions of audio quality from day to day. Thankfully, we have Eric Franklin.… Read more
SanDisk has killed off the Fanfare video download service and its companion hardware, the TakeTV. A terse note on the Fanfare Web site indicates that the "Fanfare beta has come to a conclusion, and the Fanfare application will be disabled as of 5/15/08." As for the TakeTV hardware, a representative for SanDisk has confirmed to CNET that the TakeTV is no longer being sold. However, she went on to point out that existing users still will be able to use the product's drag-and-drop feature for watching a variety of (non-Fanfare) digital videos on their TV. In other words, unlike those stuck with oversized paperweights when the Akimbo and MovieBeam services shut down, the TakeTV, at least, is still a usable product. … Read more
SanDisk continues to add to its line of Sansa MP3 players, which has been attractive to consumers from the start thanks to the low price point at which the company can list its players. While cheap pricing has made SanDisk a real contender in the portable audio space, the company is not content to rest on that fact alone to draw new customers. SanDisk is persistently tweaking its new offerings in an attempt to make them better. Such is the case with the Sansa Fuze, a slim device with a high-quality feel and several shiny color options. Sure, it's … Read more
(Update: SanDisk sent out a press release announcing the Sansa Fuze this morning, discovered by Engadget. It offers a few more details, such as three sizes--2GB ($80) and 8GB ($130), as well as the previously noted 4GB ($100)--and a listing of compatible subscription services. The Fuze is scheduled to ship in April, in the various colors pictured above.)
Someone at Amazon apparently goofed by jumping the gun on SanDisk's latest media player. The "Sansa Fuze," which had already been leaked a week earlier, made a brief appearance on an Amazon listing that now comes up as … Read more
As we creep slowly into 2008, I can't seem to shake the sinking feeling that this year isn't going to have much to offer in the realm of MP3 players. Truly, it's going to be hard to follow 2007. The year ushered in a growing selection of devices with wireless capabilities, touch screens, and high capacity flash memory at increasingly lower prices--not to mention the slow death of hard drive-based portable media players. In fact, many of my top selections from the past year comprise at least one of these features, along with many other desirable traits. … Read more