SanDisk Sansa e280 (8GB) review: SanDisk Sansa e280 (8GB)

Of course, it's mainly about the music. The e280 supports WMA and MP3 formats, and tunes can be transferred using Windows Media Player or via simple drag-and-drop. SanDisk's software allows you to convert photo and video files into player-friendly format (the alphabet of supported file types includes JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP and GIF, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPG, MPEG-4 (AVI), DAT, ASF, MOV, and WMV).

We found navigating menus on the e280 to be fast and simple, with no manual-reading required. The graphic-based main menu -- which has options for music, radio, photos, video, voice and settings -- was attractive and a breeze to scroll through. Pressing the bottom button during music or radio playback will also bring up a context sensitive options menu, while pressing the on/off button will switch you right back to the main menu (pressing it again will send you back to the screen you were originally in). Using the scroll wheel and its surrounding buttons is generally easy, although we did at times find the outer buttons to be a little small and too close to the wheel itself for comfort.

Despite SanDisk being better known for its memory products than for audio fidelity, the sound quality on the Sansa e280 is rather good. Most listeners shouldn't have any complaints -- the music we pumped through the e280 was crisp, featured decent bass and was free from distortion. Radio signals were also good and reception was strong. Recorded radio doesn't fare so well -- the Sansa player downgrades audio quality of the recorded signal. Those who like to set their own equaliser settings will be a little disappointed, however, as the e280 player only has preset settings (such as rock, pop, dance, hip hop and more) rather than user adjustable ones.

Video looks surprisingly good on the e280, although the player has certain limitations which prevent it from being a completely compelling portable video solution. Video automatically defaults to a widescreen format, which means you have to hold the Sansa on its side to view. The video conversion process to get movies onto the Sansa automatically breaks large movie files down into more manageable chunks for player to handle. For example, a half hour video may be broken into three files on the player. Playback suffers as a result, as there's a noticeable five to 10 second gap between switching files.

The dedicated record button on side is excellent feature -- press it and takes you directly to voice recording. This functionality, coupled with the fact that voice recordings are generally of high quality, makes the Sansa e280 a great impromptu voice recorder.

The e280 is available now for the cannily crafted price of AU$379 -- one dollar cheaper than the 8GB iPod Nano. Take that, Apple.