SanDisk's Sansa c100 series
Just like that, SanDisk is the number-two seller of MP3 players in the United States, thanks in part to its strategy of offering lots of features at a budget price. Some of SanDisk's latest releases at CES include the high-end Sansa e200 series and the more basic Sansa c100 series. The polished c100 series--which reminds us a bit of a stockier Cowon iAudio U3--comes in 1GB (Sansa c140; $120) and 2GB (Sansa c150; $150) sizes and features a small 1.2-inch, 65,000-color screen. Outside of subpar battery life and poor recording performance, the SanDisk Sansa c100 series is a good overall value with a decent set of features.
Both models in the c100 series look identical, measure 3.1 by 1.4 by 0.9 inches, and weigh 1.6 ounces. Although aimed at the budget crowd, the SanDisk Sansa c100 offers a 1.25-inch-diagonal, 65,000-color screen with support for JPEG photos and album art. Of course, this tiny wide-screen unit is much too small to take photos seriously, and you must convert pictures before viewing, using the included Sansa Media Converter application. On a positive note, its album-art display and simple icon-based menu system lend the otherwise bland c100 a hint of luxury.
Based loosely on the m200 series, the SanDisk Sansa c100 has an updated tactile five-way controller, as well as dedicated menu and volume buttons. The menu button, which also serves as a Back button, is critical to the c100's ease of navigation. The side opposite the volume buttons includes a hold switch and a pinhole microphone. The headphone jack is on top, and the proprietary USB port is on the bottom. The back of the unit houses a AAA battery. Overall, the unit has a cheap plastic feel like its predecessor, but as the SanDisk faithful often voice, build quality often does not make (or break) the MP3 player, especially an affordable one. However, we balk at the proprietary USB port; the m200 series has a standard mini-USB port.
The SanDisk Sansa c100's menu system is intuitive and organized logically. You can browse tracks by artist, album, song, genre, playlists, Audible files, and recordings. The only negative we noticed was the cumbersome process of sifting through 1GB of files on a four-line display with three songs showing at a time; the iPod Nano and its Click Wheel are much more efficient.