We had a look at the SanDisk Sansa e280's sibling, the Sansa e260, several months ago (click here for Sansa e260 review). The SanDisk Sansa e280, an 8GB version, is another player that, despite its obvious imitation of Apple's iPod nano, may struggle to convert Apple iPod fans - particularly without support for Apple Mac OS X.

SanDisk Sansa e280 has a raised control wheel, but the SanDisk Sansa e280's is a rough plastic ring that's more grind than click. This makes accessing surrounding buttons difficult, but is at least precise.

The concerns over the proximity of the hold button to the headphone jack (highlighted in our Sansa e260 review) remain and the SanDisk Sansa e280's one-touch record button is too easily accessible in its isolated position. This makes it useful for voice recording, however. And we like the SanDisk Sansa e280's dedicated power button. Speaking of batteries, SanDisk Sansa e280's one lasted a mighty 22 hours and is replaceable. Big tick.

But why copy the iPod nano? The SanDisk Sansa e280 has 8GB of memory, which is further expandable via a microSD slot (used only for music). Since the SanDisk Sansa e280 is recognised as a hard disk by your PC, it can be used as a straight storage device and also lets you drag-and-drop music and data files on to it – a simpler approach we've yet to find.

For videos and photos you need to use the Media Converter SanDisk supplies, but the SanDisk Sansa e280 bests the iPod nano's s 1.5in slideshow with a 1.8in screen which makes viewing video a noticeably more comfortable experience. For US users there's a built-in FM tuner, too.


While the SanDisk Sansa e280's buttons can be confusing, the icon-driven interface is simple to use and the music library settings are pretty standard. It's easy to manage playlists and track ratings from the SanDisk Sansa e280, although playlists are deleted at shutdown, and we appreciated having a choice of music playback options during slideshows.

Best held in the right hand, the SanDisk Sansa e280 is comfortable to use, swapping the sleekness of the iPod nano for sturdiness. It's almost twice as heavy and thick as the iPod nano, but needs no mothering. It comes with a similar pouch to the nano's, allowing the SanDisk Sansa e280 to easily slip into a pocket, while the earphones are more than acceptable.

If value is a priority, the SanDisk Sansa e280 more than delivers.

SanDisk Sansa e280: Specs

  • 8GB digital audio player
  • supports WMA, MP3, AVI, Mpeg1, Mpeg2, Mpeg, MPE, VOB (unprotected), Mpeg4 in AVI format, DAT, ASF, QuickTime MOV, Jpeg, Tiff, PNG, BMP, GIF, album art, PlayForSure
  • 1.8in (220x176) TFT display
  • built-in microphone
  • lithium-ion rechargeable (replaceable) battery, quoted life 20 hours, actual 22 hours
  • microSD expansion slot
  • package includes travel pouch, lanyard, earphones, USB cable
  • Sansa Media Converter
  • mass storage device
  • 44x89x13mm
  • 75g PC system requirements: Windows XP with Windows Media Player 10.0/11.0
  • CD-ROM drive
  • USB 2.0
  • 8GB digital audio player
  • supports WMA, MP3, AVI, Mpeg1, Mpeg2, Mpeg, MPE, VOB (unprotected), Mpeg4 in AVI format, DAT, ASF, QuickTime MOV, Jpeg, Tiff, PNG, BMP, GIF, album art, PlayForSure
  • 1.8in (220x176) TFT display
  • built-in microphone
  • lithium-ion rechargeable (replaceable) battery, quoted life 20 hours, actual 22 hours
  • microSD expansion slot
  • package includes travel pouch, lanyard, earphones, USB cable
  • Sansa Media Converter
  • mass storage device
  • 44x89x13mm
  • 75g PC system requirements: Windows XP with Windows Media Player 10.0/11.0
  • CD-ROM drive
  • USB 2.0

OUR VERDICT

The SanDisk Sansa e280 does many things well and, despite some gripes, we were impressed. But if the SanDisk Sansa e280 is to compete with iPod nano it needs a few design tweaks.

Find the best price