Editors' note: The rating of this product has increased to reflect significant enhancements offered by a firmware update. Find out more information.
Thanks to its position as a memory chip manufacturer, SanDisk is a master at cost competing in the portable audio space, and although companies such as Creative Labs are now tagging at about the same level, SanDisk's initial aggressiveness earned it the No. 2 spot in sales (behind Apple, natch)--and a reputation for producing cheap MP3 players. The company's latest device, an ultracompact model dubbed the Sansa Clip, is no exception: The 1GB model comes in at a mere $40, while the 2GB is on offer for a no less reasonable $70. But don't let the price fool you: The Clip offers a respectable 92dB signal-to-noise ratio. This player is out to prove that "cheap" doesn't have to mean subpar sound quality.
Simple and small
At 2.2 inches by 1.4 inches by 0.5 inch (without the belt clip attached), the Sansa Clip isn't quite "smaller than a matchbox," but it is about the same size as one. It's one of the most compact players we've come across in recent times, though it is slightly larger than its closest competitor, the Creative Zen Stone Plus. However, the Clip's rectangular, 1-inch screen makes for better navigation than the Stone's itty bitty circular display. Also, the Clip lets you navigate music by artist, album, and so on, whereas the Stone offers very little track organization. Like the Stone, the Clip comes in a variety of colors: sleek black, candy apple red, hot pink, and ice blue. The black version is available in both capacities, while the colors come in 2GB only. As the name suggests, the Clip also comes with a removable belt clip in a color to match the player. This feature and its ultracompact size make it ideal for the gym.