You may recognize the name Sansa View, but that's about all SanDisk's new video MP3 player has in common with the original View announced at CES. SanDisk essentially went back to the drawing board, which is why it's taken so long for the official View to surface. Rather than a screen-dominated PVP, you get an e200 with a sleeker design, a beefed-up screen, and a larger body. It's a smart move, since more users are inclined toward compact players than dedicated PVPs. Even smarter is the price: The 8GB View goes for just $149.99, and the 16GB for only $199.99. By comparison, the Creative Zen in 8GB and 16GB capacities goes for $199.99 and $249.99, respectively. However, it must be said: The Sansa's sound does not stack up to the Zen's.
We're a bit torn on the Sansa View's design. On the one hand, it's pretty large for a flash MP3 player (4.3 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.4 inch), but it also has an ample (2.4-inch) screen. And we're taken with the mechanical scroll wheel that sits below the screen and the nifty backlit control indicators that switch their orientation depending on whether the screen is in landscape mode (for photo and video viewing) or portrait mode (for navigation and music playback). In addition to the wheel, there's a home button that alternates between the top menu and the playback screen, and a small center select button. The size of this key may present a problem for the less dexterous, though the fact that it's slightly raised helps things. Sadly, there's no dedicated volume, and the syncing port (located on the bottom) is proprietary. On the plus side, you get a hold switch on the lower-left spine, while the lower-right edge contains a microSD card slot capable of accepting SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards. At the time of this writing, these went up to 8GB, meaning you could potentially have a View with up to 24GB--definitely a good thing for a video player.
Style-wise, the Sansa View definitely falls into the understated category; its shiny black face isn't unattractive, but neither is it eye-catching. The clear coat should do a reasonable job at protecting the player from scratches, but it also creates a dimming effect on the LCD, almost as if you're looking through a very fine-mesh screen. Luckily, the display gets very bright, so visibility is not really an issue. However, I should note that, although the text for all the menus is black, the lettering on the playback screen is white, which may present a problem for certain people. Along with track info (title, artist, album), this screen also displays album art and can be set to show one of the following: time elapsed/remaining, a graphic equalizer, full-screen cover art, or the song that's on deck.