PHOTOS: Sansa Clip, unveiled
You know, the word "cheap" doesn't conjure up the best images of quality, but it's more searchable than "inexpensive," so there you go. Still, flash memory maker SanDisk doesn't necessarily like its reputation for putting out (mostly) cheap MP3 players, even if the term refers more to cost than quality. That's why its latest addition to the Sansa family, the Clip, offers a respectable 92dB signal-to-noise ratio, meaning its sound quality should be able to stand up to the likes of the Creative Zen Stone Plus, its closest competitor.
But don't worry--this focus on audio quality doesn't mean SanDisk has lost sight of the reason it became No. 2 in MP3 sales in the first place. The Sansa Clip is still plenty cheap--the cheapest we've seen for the features, in fact. The 1GB version, which comes in black only, will set you back only $40, while the 2GB version (available in candy apple red, hot pink and ice blue) is priced at $60. Not bad...not bad, at all. Anyone else remember when a mere 512MB would set you back a C-note?
To make that price even more palatable, the Clip also includes several desirable extras. There's a built-in mic for taking voice recordings and an FM tuner with a surprising 40 presets--more than we've seen elsewhere. Appropriately, the player also includes a removable clip for attaching it on your person. Although it's not quite as small as a matchbox (as the press material attests), it's plenty compact enough to conceal comfortably in your pocket if you're not the type to wear your gadgets as fashion accessories. Despite its small size, the Clip offers a four-line OLED--only in two colors, but at least it's big enough to offer comfortable browsing by artist, album, playlist and so on. Below the screen is a four-way control pad surrounding a center select/play/pause key. The left edge houses a standard mini USB port and a power/hold switch, while the right contains the headphone jack and a dedicated volume rocker.
The Clip's format support is typical of Sansa players. It plays MP3 and WMA tracks, including subscription music downloads from the likes of Rhapsody. The device is also compatible with audiobooks from Audible. According to SanDisk's estimates, you should be able to listen to this content uninterrupted for 15 hours before recharging the battery.