SanDisk first showed off its very small music-only Sansa Clip player last summer, no doubt because it was when new iPod designs were being launched.
Because of its teeny dimensions and clothing clip, it’s inevitable that the SanDisk Sansa Clip will be labelled an iPod Shuffle killer (though it actually shares more attributes with Creative’s Zen Stone Plus). While iPod fans will probably stick with what they know, we reckon the SanDisk Sansa Clip is a better player than the Shuffle.
The SanDisk Sansa Clip is well-designed, well built and easy to use, comes in several colours and offers both decent capacity and long-lasting batteries.
The review model we have here is a none-too-shiny black, but the SanDisk Sansa Clip comes in red, blue or shocking pink. We like the understated black since it’s less likely to catch the beady eye of a thief. The clip itself is sturdy and snaps back firmly into place and has a circular thumbhole to make grabbing it easier. A nice touch.
In fact, SanDisk has thought through the design of the diminutive Clip player pretty well. The SanDisk Sansa Clip's wheel-shaped menu selector on its front is rubberised and feels better quality than the ratchety plastic of its larger Sansa player siblings.
Oddly, the SanDisk Sansa Clip's selection wheel is different again from the spinning rubber wheel on the also new larger 8GB SansaView MP4 player (reviewed here).
SanDisk keeps the Sansa Clip's main menu simple: Music, Settings (for the equaliser and backlight), FM radio and Voice. It’s possible to drag-and-drop tracks and albums on to Clip’s flash hard drive as well as to synchronise with Windows Media Player. Flick from listening to a song to the radio and the SanDisk Sansa Clip remembers what you were listening to and lets you resume it from the start of that track or replay the whole album.
Songs can also be added to (or instantly removed from) a GoList and can be rated and playback settings can be set on a by-track basis. The volume control is via a separate silver-coloured paddle on the Clip’s righthand side. You can easily control the SanDisk Sansa Clip one-handed but don’t fall into the trap of scrolling through looking for a specific track or artist and inadvertently changing the volume. This is just as well since even at the lowest volume, this is a pretty loud player. The highest volume was more than we could stand.
Tracks sound great on the bundled earphones, which are a notch above those Apple supplies with its iPods, making the SanDisk Sansa Clip seem exceptional value.
SanDisk has an inherent advantage when it comes to flash-based MP3 players: as a manufacturer of solid state memory, it doesn’t have to buy in memory from elsewhere, so ought to be able to create great value players. Even so, the price tag of £20 for the 1GB player and £35 inc VAT for the 2GB SanDisk Sansa Clip we review here is a bit of a showstopper for a brand-name player.