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When SanDisk decided to update its extremely popular Sansa Clip, it could have mangled a perfectly peachy player. Luckily, SanDisk knew a good thing when it saw one and created the Sansa Clip+, a fantastic follow-up that builds upon the great foundation of its predecessor.

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The player continues to offer an ultracompact design complemented by useful features and solid sound quality--and all at an unbeatable price. The Clip+ is available in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB options for $39.99, $49.99, and $69.99, respectively.

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The SanDisk Sansa Clip+ is very similar to its predecessor in design, which means you still get an ultracompact shape (2.1 inches tall by 1.3 wide by 0.4-inch thick), light weight (0.9 ounce), and a superhandy built-in belt-clip on the back of the device.

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That said, there are some notable--though very minor--differences between the physical aspects of the Clip+ and its predecessor. First, the player's control pad is square rather than circular, though it is the same five-way configuration, with play/pause, track FF/RW, and a contextual menu button surrounding a center select key.

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Also, the dedicated volume rocker has moved from the right edge to the left (under the standard mini-USB port) to make room for a MicroSD card slot.

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And SanDisk has eliminated the hold-and-power switch, electing instead to add a power button to the top of the player and integrate hold functionality into the home key on the front.

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Perhaps the most obvious change to the Clip+ is the overall body design, although this, too, is relatively slight. The player is less blocky, with a slightly curved, brushed, black plastic back plate that wraps slightly around the edges of the front. The colors--black, red, and blue at release--are relegated to just face of the device.

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Those who are familiar with the Clip will be glad to know that the interface of the Clip+ is nearly identical, with a small menu addition to accommodate the MicroSD card slot. As you can use SlotMusic and SlotRadio cards as well as cards formatted with your own music, SanDisk has thoughtfully created a separate menu option for SlotRadio that allows you to access that content directly.

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Diving into the music submenu will let you navigate by artist, album, genre, and playlist as well as a folder-tree option. This is also where you'll find dedicated sections for podcasts and audiobooks. The only issue: the display is quite small (1 inch diagonally) and thus the tiny, monochrome text may be difficult to read if you don't have perfect vision.

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For such a small player, the Sansa Clip+ has an impressive array of features: support for MP3, secure WMA (subscription music), WAV, FLAC, OGG, and Audible; a built-in mic for voice recording; an FM tuner with an autoscan mode and 40 preset slots; an MicroSD slot that takes SDHC cards; and Rhapsody DNA.

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The Clip+ features the same audio chip found in the Clip, meaning it offers a signal-to-noise ratio of 92dB. In layman's terms, that means this player is capable of providing great sound quality--if you swap out the included cheapo earbuds for something decent, that is.

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