A couple of months with SanDisk’s Sansa Clip+ MP3 player

Manufacturer SanDisk
Model Sansa Clip+
Price (2GB)
Availability Now

My disdain for the latest iPod shuffle is no secret. The Shuffle is a perfect example of Apple’s obsession with form over function: a conscious decision to sacrifice useful and what some might classify as essential features in the name of producing the world’s smallest portable audio player. Of course, mini MP3 players passed the point of diminishing returns on the miniaturization front a long, long time ago. In exchange for an arbitrarily tiny body, the shuffle makes you give up a screen, which is sort of a useful feature if you want to navigate a music library, manage playlists, or even find out what song’s playing without having to resort to a Dr. Sbaitso-style VoiceOver dictation through your headphones. Oh, and those headphones just happen to have a propensity to crank up the volume when exposed to sweat. One more strike against an MP3 player whose one saving grace could have been its workout worthiness.

The iPod shuffle’s biggest problem isn’t the device itself, though; it’s the competition, namely SanDisk’s excellent Sansa Clip. I’ve been using a Clip regularly for the better part of two years now, and it’s simply fantastic. The Clip is more than small enough to be a workout companion, and it costs a fraction of the price you’ll pay for a Shuffle. Yet the Clip offers great battery life, a useful display, and the ability to withstand long, sweaty runs in the heat of summer and the cold, miserable monsoons that make up Vancouver’s winters.

Really, I couldn’t be happier with the Sansa Clip as my secondary, flash-based MP3 player. Or could I?

Not too long ago, SanDisk updated the Clip with a new model, appropriately dubbed the Clip+. This latest revision borrows heavily from the original, down to its inexpensive asking price. A 2GB Clip+ costs less than $40 online, while 4GB versions sell for around $45, and 8GB models run only $60

Basically, you’re looking at twice the capacity of an iPod shuffle for less money. The Clip+ is larger than the tiniest iPod, of course, but at 2.16″ x 1.36″ x 0.6″, it’s still incredibly small. The Clip+ tips the scales at less than an ounce, which essentially feels weightless when placed in a pocket.

This latest Clip’s casing is a mix of matte and glossy plastics. SanDisk just couldn’t resist a glossy faceplate, which unfortunately picks up fingerprints and smudges with ease. I suppose the matte finish doesn’t look as enticing on store shelves or in product photography, but it really is a more durable surface for a device that’s handled constantly.

Speaking of durability, the Clip+ seems to be every bit as sturdy as the original that’s lasted me roughly two years now. However, unlike the first Clip, this new model isn’t available in obnoxiously hot pink. You’ll have to make do with black, blue, and red variants of the 4GB model, and black only for the 2GB and 8GB flavors.

Not that you’ll be looking at the casing’s finish, though. Your gaze will most likely be focused on the Clip’s defining feature: a brilliant two-color OLED display. The 1″ screen may be tiny, but it can clearly display up to four lines of text, even with the brightness turned all the way down. SanDisk equips the Clip+ with the same simple but intuitive interface that graced the original. Although not much to look at, the UI gets the job done. Menu responses are snappy and responsive, allowing quick navigation using the directional pad and other buttons.

The Clip+’s face also features basic menu navigation and playback controls, just like its predecessor. This time around, the device can be locked by holding down the home button rather than manipulating a slider on its left edge. SanDisk has also done away with the slider-based power switch, which has been replaced by a single button.

I’ve heard a few folks talk about how easy the shuffle’s headphone-based playback controls are to access, but that argument’s always fallen a little flat with me. Perhaps that’s because when running or at the gym, I actually find my hands closer to where I have the Clip, er, clipped—I generally route headphone cabling under my shirt or down my back to keep the dangling wires from getting in the way. Even when running at a full speed, I can easily reach down and adjust the Clip’s volume or skip tracks in seconds, all without looking.

A variety of music input options

The Clip+ features a standard USB 2.0 port for data transfers and charging, and there’s a short cable in the box along with the player. Software isn’t included, I suspect because it’s not needed. The Clip+ plays nicely with Windows Media Player, Winamp, and scores of other music management software. Or, you can eschew auxiliary applications altogether and treat the Clip as a USB storage device, dragging and dropping audio files from Windows. And the Clip+ can play just about any audio format you throw at it: MP3, WMA, Ogg, and even FLAC. DRM-encrusted iTunes downloads need not apply, though. I guess the shuffle does one thing better than the Clip.

If you’re familiar with the first Clip, you’ll know that SanDisk really hasn’t added much thus far. That changes when we turn our attention to the device’s right edge, which features a microSDHC slot that can be used to expand the player’s storage capacity via pinky-thumbnail-sized memory cards. You can slide in a slotMusic or slotRadio card, as well. The former is essentially an album on a memory card, which seems appropriate for the handful of people who somehow own an MP3 player but don’t have a PC to load it up or an Internet connection through which to obtain audio files.

SlotRadio is a little different. These are memory cards that offer a “radio experience,” minus the annoying commercials and commentary. Cards are grouped by genre—rock, country, classical, and the like—and you can pick one up for about $40. In return, you get 1,000 tracks arranged into playlists purportedly crafted by actual DJs.

I know what you’re thinking: $40 for 1,000 songs works out to only four cents a track, which is practically AllofMP3 cheap. But you’re not getting 1,000 MP3s or even DRM-protected audio files. You’re getting a collection of playlists whose contents aren’t even completely detailed. The Rock card, for example, boasts songs by 24 individually named artists and “many more.” Just how many more is hard to say, and you don’t even get track information for the few artists whose names are listed.

At least you can see the track name and artist when it’s playing on the Clip+. However, you can’t select songs individually, just the predefined playlists. Skipping ahead on a playlist is allowed, but you can’t go back, which seems especially spiteful. Really, then, slotRadio costs a heck of a lot more than four cents a song, for you must also give up quite a lot of freedom.

I’m fine with slotRadio being a bit of a mess, because you can still load up a standard microSDHC card with your own music and plug it into the Clip+. The tracks on the memory card will be integrated into the player’s music library, giving you unfettered access to them. Refreshing the library does take a minute or two, though.

Besides, if you really want a radio experience, the Clip+ has an actual digital FM tuner built in. There’s a microphone, too, should you wish to take advantage of the device’s voice-recording capabilities to preserve any epiphanies you might have on the go. And then you have the actual clip, which keeps the player nicely anchored without the need for a case.

One might not expect great sound quality from a cheap, mini MP3 player. The first Clip was renowned for its clear playback, though, and the new model is no different. In fact, the included headphones are even better than those included with the original. They’re still just cheap throw-ins, but they’re more comfortable than the stock iPod earbuds. They sound better, too. As far as I can tell, the new buds are also unaffected by sweat and rain. Imagine that.

I’ve been using the Clip+ regularly for the better part of two months now. In addition to taking it running and mountain biking, I’ve also had the Clip serve as my primary MP3 player for everyday use and travel, replacing the larger hard-drive-based player that I usually lug around. The verdict? This really is a Clip+: all the goodness of the original plus a little extra.

Looking at current prices, you don’t even have to pay a premium for the microSDHC slot. However, having a card installed will reduce the Clip+’s battery life from around 15 hours to less than 10, in my experience. However, with the largest-capacity Clip+ offering 8GB of internal storage, most folks probably won’t need a memory card. Even without one, the Clip+ is still the best mini MP3 player I’ve ever used.

Comments closed
    • hermanshermit
    • 10 years ago

    Does this still have the 4000 track limit as do other Sansa players? This is becoming an issue with 16GB micro SD being relatively cheap and presumably this time next year 32GB. Also how long does it take to integrate a large memory card, I presume it does some indexing?

    It seems Sansa are getting closer and close with each generation and you can bet your life you’ll never see an Apple ipod with expandable memory as Steve Jobs is on record in saying he wants you to buy a new one every year. All I really need now is the AAC support as I like working in this format.

    I guess rockbox will eventually be my saviour.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 10 years ago

    Does it handle podcasts? That’s what I use 99% of the time on my 8GB Zune that I paid $40 for.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 10 years ago

      Yep. I picked up a Clip+ to replace my Zune since the Zune software drove me mad. I use the Clip for podcast only and it works perfect. I wish I know about this player after my Zen died, I would have skipped the Zune all together.

      The Clip is a no-brainer purchase.

    • Satyr
    • 10 years ago

    I bought a Sansa clip for running with, after hearing the positive talk around here. Mine died after about 2 months. Stopped charging, and locks up a lot. Not impressed.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    “and the cold, miserable monsoons that make up Vancouver’s winters.” this got me laughing. as a van isle boy, i would hardly call the winters there miserable, especially if you have ever roamed east of BC. van has the

      • Dissonance
      • 10 years ago

      Actually, I grew up in Montreal and Toronto. Colder winters, sure, but with sun and snow. Vancouver might be relatively temperate, but there’s a certain misery in having nothing but rain for weeks, sometimes months on end.

    • PRIME1
    • 10 years ago

    I bought a 20gb dell for $40. Kind of hefty but can’t beat the price or the storage.

    • snn47
    • 10 years ago

    What about .mp2 support?

    Even players with mpeg2 support never list support for .mp2, despite the fact that .mp2 is the mpeg2 audio format.

    I recorded a lot of music via DVB-S therefore it’s .mp2 and I don’t see a reason do degrade quality by converting it to .mp3.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Quality really shouldn’t go down if you use the proper settings for everything. I’ve got a dBpowerAMP license for arbitrary purposes, it’s splendid, but you might be able to find help for free too.

    • zima
    • 10 years ago

    No pink color…well, that ruins it for me.

    (semi seriously – pink gizmos are great if only because they are often slightly cheaper; good enough for one extra beer at least)

    BTW, iPods (even Shuffle) have one nice feature – universal support for logging of played songs / Last.fm. Luckily the situation is improving, with Media Transfer Protocol becoming a standard on other players; though it is often hit and miss when it comes to logging of played songs (apparently only an option in MTP)

    • smilingcrow
    • 10 years ago

    Even a bloody CD player has a screen and that works with discs that rarely have more than 15 tracks so I’d better have a screen on an MP3 player even if it’s only 1GB.

      • XaiaX
      • 10 years ago

      A CD player is also necessarily the size of a CD, there is a finite lower bound to the possible size of a CD player, thus whether or not it has a display (usually just a number and some info about play mode) doesn’t affect the size of the device.

      It’s a completely different consideration.

    • Jambe
    • 10 years ago

    The Clip+ has been astounding for me. I bought two (red and blue) for my niece and nephew. I have an 8gb myself. No bending and squeaking when squeezed, know-when-you-press-’em buttons, good feel in the hand, navigable clipped or in a pocket. For $40-60? Probably one of the best offerings out there!

    I haven’t used the microSD slot but it’s a neat feature, especially on a player this cheap. I’ll probably throw one in there when I haul myself up to the UP next month.

    • wira020
    • 10 years ago

    I usually get Sony for MP3 player.. i prefer the quality of the sound over everything else… Sony’s high end offering usually include impressive quality earphones with it which is totally a plus and kinda offset the high price… but having to use certain software to move songs into the device kinda turn me off.. usually buggy and slow…

    Now i dont think there’s even a use for dedicated mp3 player anymore… or even mp4… most handphone nowadays came with mp3 support… get a good earphone and it’ll be a decent mp3 player… i usually bring my handphone while jogging anyway… well, maybe the battery wont be as long as this dedicated device… but i usually charge my phone everyday anyway….

      • jstern
      • 10 years ago

      I think it’s all psychological that you think the Sony produces superior sound. Also, most people call them cellphones which I think it’s a better name since some people don’t even hold them when they’re talking on them.

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 10 years ago

        No, most people call them mobile phones where I come from, and where I live now.

        Obviously, it all depends where you live. Assuming readers here are all based in North America is a bit silly.

    • gerryg
    • 10 years ago

    My son has the 1GB Clip (got it for him last Christmas, a Woot! refurb for like $15), and I bought my wife the Clip+ 8GB to replace her unrecoverable 2GB iPod Nano 2G. I used iTurns to convert her songs to MP3. Both of them are happy as clams. My wife likes the user interface for iTunes better than Amazon in order to find music, but she’s happier that she’s spending less money and the music will play on any MP3 player, which we can get better deals on than iPods. Me personally, I think proprietary formats like Apple promotes are evil. I’m sooo glad that we’re off of iTunes.

    She likes the way it sounds better than the iPod Nano, too, and that it weighs less, is smaller, has a built in clip, and has a radio. Both my son and my wife like the fact that it has a screen. They don’t use it all the time, but when they need it they appreciate it. And since it costs way less than comparable Apple hardware like the Shuffle, the screen is essentially “free”.

    Clip+ is a winner. If you want a bigger player with a screen, an iPod Touch is the one to get, but any of the lesser products in Apple’s portfolio should be skipped, unless you need a huge capacity, in which case there’s another iPod available or look at the Archos products. I’m thinking about just buying two Clip+ 8GB units (eventually with expansion cards) and keep different sets of music on them and rotate which one I use.

      • zima
      • 10 years ago

      What’s so proprietary about formats promoted by Apple? (and by Nokia, SE, … you get the idea)

    • XaiaX
    • 10 years ago

    I need a screen on a tiny little mp3 player like a need a screen on a rotary phone.

    If you want a display, get one that’s larger. If you’re looking at the screen you’re not actually listening to anything. If you have so many songs on there that you need to manage playlists, get a device with a larger capacity and a screen and better management capabilities.

    The shuffle was perfect before they removed the buttons. It played mp3s. The capacity wasn’t so large it needed management. If you needed more capacity you shouldn’t be using the shuffle anyway.

    The problem here is the weird geek attitude that one device should be perfectly functional at every possible use for any related device. “All mp3 players must have screens, because sometimes a screen helps in certain scenarios”

    Here, Geoff, you’re playing the part of the software designer in this §[< http://www.ridgenet.net/~do_while/toaster.htm<]§ old hardware/software joke. 99.9% of the time, with a small player like this, you're going to be just listening to it. The majority of the rest of the time will be "I want a different song", or "this is too loud/not loud enough". The 2nd gen shuffle was perfect for this. It had simple navigation, simple start/stop controls, and simple volume controls. It didn't have so large a capacity that visual navigation would be necessary. Heck, when I picked up a replacement I specifically avoided the 2GB version because that would be too much, and if I needed that I could just use something with a display and more control options. The current version of the shuffle is too far, though, I'll agree with that. No integrated buttons is bad, the morse code control system is a bit ridiculous, and the increased capacity makes the device LESS useful. The 2nd gen shuffle was the best "mp3 player" design, though. The clip is too big and wastes space. You could take those 4 nav buttons and put them as the border to the screen, and then use the screen itself as the "home" button. That would allow the device to be even smaller without losing anything. As the quote goes, good design isn't about adding things, but removing unnecessary things until there's nothing left to remove. A screen on a small functionalist device for playing music is just dead weight for 99% of use.

      • Skrying
      • 10 years ago

      A screen is useful on a device this small. A screen increases the speed at which I can find the exact artist and album I want to listen to. Letting me get back to enjoying the music I want to hear quicker.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        Exactly. Arguing against a screen which is small but shows just the information needed to navigate smacks of fanboyism.

      • Dissonance
      • 10 years ago

      /[<99.9% of the time, with a small player like this, you're going to be just listening to it. The majority of the rest of the time will be "I want a different song", or "this is too loud/not loud enough". The 2nd gen shuffle was perfect for this. It had simple navigation, simple start/stop controls, and simple volume controls. It didn't have so large a capacity that visual navigation would be necessary. Heck, when I picked up a replacement I specifically avoided the 2GB version because that would be too much, and if I needed that I could just use something with a display and more control options.<]/ Wait, so higher capacities are a bad thing for mini MP3 players? You want less music on your portable player? I suppose I can understand that sentiment. If I was stuck without a screen, I wouldn't want to be dealing with a lot of music, either. But avoiding higher capacities because the shuffle's interface doesn't work well for large music libraries seems to support the notion that screens *do* make sense on higher-capacity MP3 players. The Clip offers higher capacities and, thanks to its screen, the ability to navigate larger music libraries easily. SanDisk isn't charging a premium for the privilege, and the Clip's still plenty tiny, so I'm not sure what you actually lose by having the screen. Fractions of an inch... or an ounce... but that's it.

        • XaiaX
        • 10 years ago

        l[

      • wira020
      • 10 years ago

      I dont get your point.. i thought everyone like to find what song they want to hear next easier… instead of forwarding until it sounds like what i want to hear… plus there’s a few seconds b4 we can hear sounds and confirm the song…

        • zima
        • 10 years ago

        “Everyone”? That’s a bold claim you have there…

        Many people just turn on shuffling. Heck, a decade ago a had basically just one cassette in my Walkman for a few years.

      • just brew it!
      • 10 years ago

      q[

        • XaiaX
        • 10 years ago

        I don’t have anything against the clip, other than it’s too big, and all of the things it does “better” than a shuffle are done better by a full sized player. (Well, also, it’s ugly. While not a primary concern, it’s not a non-concern.)

        Compromises are a method of ensuring no one gets what they want.

        I just have a beef with the idea that something was “wrong” with the shuffle because it didn’t include a screen. It seems like a similar complaint to how Apple TV doesn’t have a volume control. VCRs don’t have volume controls, DVD players don’t have volume controls, why should yet another video source have its own dedicated volume control? – It’s the same design philosophy. It’s not even an “Apple” thing, look at the WDTV. Some people complained that it doesn’t have a volume control on the remote, and that, oh, no! You’ll need to use the volume control on your stereo or TV, just like you do with every other piece of electronics equipment that connects through your entertainment center!

        l[

          • Anomymous Gerbil
          • 10 years ago

          I agree with your original post, given my use case of listening-while-exercising. Well, except for the capacity thing; it comes in a range of sizes, and it costs two parts of bugger-all, and if you don’t want to use the extra capacity then no-one’s forcing you to.

          Just taking a wild guess, maybe Sansa designed it like this because it didn’t add much to the size and cost, while making it attractive to a larger audience (even if it means a few people like you won’ty buy one). At very little cost in size/weight, you’ve got a device that is also reasonably useful as a “proper” MP3 player /[

            • XaiaX
            • 10 years ago

            Given the sales of Apple mp3 players vs. “everyone else”, I’d say the “larger audience” is actually the niche of people that are avoiding Apple’s devices.

            I was actually wishing MS would make a “zhuffle” mini-zune shuffle-alike, since there are many features of Zune (Zune Pass, specifically) that are appealing. Streaming Pandora everywhere is pretty nice, though. (Just wish I could get background streaming)

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          Clip+: 2.16″ x 1.36″ x 0.6 (not sure if that includes the clip)

          Shuffle 3G: 1.8″ x 0.7″ x 0.3″ (including the clip)

          Whoa, the Clip is insanely huge! Wait, no. It also has a longer rated and apparently real-world battery life than the Shuffle so it would seem that the screen doesn’t have a negative effect there. (Of course the battery is likely higher capacity in the Clip but in the end the useful battery life is what matters.)

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 10 years ago

            I have a cheap label printer with an LCD screen about that size, and the battery warning has come on every time I’ve used it (which is pretty regularly) for the past four months, but it’s still going, and it just uses a few AAAs. And this is just an old cheapo label maker, mind you, not a new MP3 player.

            Those newer types of screens use hardly any electricity at all.

    • esterhasz
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t know why but listening to music while running totally screws with my pacing. I’ve had a TR podcast or two on my long runs though and I sometimes listen to conferences or radio shows. So it would have been interesting to know how easy it is to navigate in loner files (my creative piece totally sucks at that so if I start a podcast on the computer and want to continue on my mp3 that’s pretty annoying). Anyways, swim, bike, run.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    Rooted smartphones + custom software are the way to go. I can’t imagine dedicated devices like these anymore, even given the cost advantagesg{<.<}g

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 10 years ago

      Too big/heavy for jogging/hiking/etc.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        I hike 5 miles a day with my Droid/ no issuesg{<.<}g According to the My Tracks group, lots of people jog with it fine.

          • echo_seven
          • 10 years ago

          I typically jog using an iPod Touch, and while this generally works fine for me, I am really thinking of getting a Clip….so that I don’t have to worry so much about losing it or dropping it.

      • hermanshermit
      • 10 years ago

      Err no, given that a typical phone used as a media player barely lasts half a day.

      A typical music player will go twice as long and not leave you without a phone.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        My Droid with latest update lasts 22 hours, normal use. Audio use has little effect on the battery (compared to display). I have hundreds more features, and more monthly, on my Droid than any dedicated playerg{<.<}g

      • Satyr
      • 10 years ago

      I agree. Android and Spotify is the greatest thing, meaning that I never have to worry about getting music together for my exercise again.

    • Hattig
    • 10 years ago

    There’s a second page? When I read this originally there wasn’t!

    And AAC is superior to MP3, everything should be using it. It’s not 2003. These media players are broken.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      Everything is inferior to lossless but whenever that’s brought up people point to blind tests showing otherwise. Got any links to fairly recent mp3 vs AAC blind tests?

        • Taddeusz
        • 10 years ago

        Even if there are I doubt they would be conclusive either way because most people can’t seem to tell the difference between compressed and uncompressed audio. Even those with so called “golden ears”.

          • glynor
          • 10 years ago

          Right… Anything above LAME’s -v2 setting is effectively indistinguishable from lossless, except for when using certain contrived example files carefully designed to make the compressor fail. Anyone who tells you anything else is suffering from placebo effect. Make them do a real, blind listening test.

          There’s all kinds of documented listening test information over at HydrogenAudio and AVSForums.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 10 years ago

          The ironic thing is that people with “golden ears” and working knowledge of the very highest end equipment can figure out how to set up lossy, but adjustable, encoders, like LAME, to be sonically indistinguishable from the source.

          Proper encoders give you the tools to eliminate even the most minute differences and still reduce file sizes enormously, should you choose to take advantage of them.

          MP3 is a standard and we are stuck with it. Just be glad that ways to manipulate the standard were developed.

          People who judge these things on equipment as low end as computer speakers and iPods, and actually do hear a difference, have got to be just plain doing it wrong to begin with.

        • Hattig
        • 10 years ago

        I’m not going to rip everything again. Not yet, anyway. And when I do, I’ll do FLAC and then generate 160kbps VBR MP3s for mobile devices from them.

        So as #29 says, if you have an AAC library already, for whatever reason, these players aren’t doing anything to sell themselves. Because of Apple and iTunes, AAC is very prevalent. For the sake of a little software development (AAC isn’t that encumbered with licensing fees as far as I am aware) or integration, they’re making their devices a lot less attractive.

          • zima
          • 10 years ago

          Since you will (probably) keep FLAC files handy on HDD, you might just as well batch encode to whatever format is best for this one particular device…

          It might be eAAC+ quite often, since even vast majority of mobile phones support it. It’s always nice to be able to fit around 1.5x more music at comparable quality.

          • Airmantharp
          • 10 years ago

          I’m with you on putting everything in FLAC. Hard drive space is cheap and fast, and I don’t have *that* much music (satellite radio sure helps). I’m really happy that this thing both supports FLAC and has a memory card slot.

          I was given the original clip as a present from a boss, and wound up giving it to my sister, who had asked for an MP3 player. Now that I’ve been spending more time in the gym, specifically on treadmills instead of running outside, I think I’ll get one of these.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Yup – if you’re going to get CDs in the first place you might as well rip to lossless. I’m glad in a way that I didn’t get in to ripping my CDs more than a few years ago when HD $/GB really started to plummet. The thought of reripping hundreds of CDs makes me shudder. I also did a fair amount of research and when I found out about ‘lossless’ I was sold. Once you’ve got everything in FLAC you’re free to do whatever else you want with it, it just takes some processing time, but at least not time sitting at the PC like ripping, to change everything over to another format.

          • muyuubyou
          • 10 years ago

          The fact that they do sell, and they sell very well, probably means that AAC is not as prevalent as you think it is. FWIW I never even considered it, as I despise both iTunes and DRM crap.

      • Corrado
      • 10 years ago

      Now I don’t feel so bad.

      • just brew it!
      • 10 years ago

      You still can’t deny the fact that MP3 has the widest support of the compressed formats. If you have multiple devices, and don’t want to re-encode for each device, MP3 is the least common denominator.

      Too bad OGG isn’t more widely supported; the compression ratio and quality are similar to AAC, and it is a more “open” standard (it isn’t patent encumbered, so people who implement it don’t need to pay for a license). Kudos to Sansa for supporting OGG format.

      • barich
      • 10 years ago

      I’m a lot more concerned with compatibility than the few extra KB used to get an MP3 to sound the same as an AAC.

      In any case, I am unable to distinguish LAME’s V2 preset from a CD, so I see no reason to use a higher bitrate/lossless/AAC. And since everything supports MP3, I don’t need to worry about keeping multiple copies of every song in different formats..

      • Kaleid
      • 10 years ago

      Who needs better than mp3 for mobile use? Most headphones will be too bad anyway to tell the difference.

    • Corrado
    • 10 years ago

    The biggest addition to the Clip+ isn’t even mentioned in here… the MicroSD slot. So you can make it a 40gb capacity if you want to, or buy a $35 2gb player and stick an 8gb microSD card in it and have a good ammount of space for such a small player. I loved my 1gb Clip, but would have loved it more had it had a MicroSD slot.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      Check page 2 paragraph 2.

        • Corrado
        • 10 years ago

        Wow…. i didn’t even SEE the 2nd page. Me so dumb.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          It’s ok nublet. We know how tricky those NEXT PAGE links can be :DD

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 10 years ago

    I’m glad there have been a few articles here to shine the light on an overlooked, but highly useful, variety of media device. My experience with one, having been pessimistic going in to using it:

    OAS’ Official Worthless Opinion on Why Little MP3 Players Are Cool:

    1) Not only very inexpensive, but not too far off from the price of a flash thumb drive with the same capacity. You know you’re getting your money’s worth.

    2) Not too far off from the size of a flash thumb drive, either, so you can actually keep it with you in place of one for simple file transfers.

    3) Still enough capacity to hold many, many MP3 CDs’ worth of music, whereas the “larger” ones have a bit more space, but will invariably have that and more eaten by even a small amount of video. My point being that for the purpose of music, it’s not necessarily smaller, in practice.

    4) You’re probably not going to do something with it that unexpectedly plows through the battery and leaves you with a dead device at a time you had meant to use it.

    I’ve had a dinky little 512MB Creative one for a while that someone just gave me because they thought it was no good. I didn’t think it would be either, but despite its low capacity, it’s still turned out to be very handy for all those reasons.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      YO DAWG WE PUT A SLOT IN YOUR CLIP SO YOU CAN LISTEN WHILE YOU LISTEN.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 10 years ago

        We’re going to have to change your name to MadManLikesToMadSoHeCanMadWhileHe’sMad!

      • zima
      • 10 years ago

      You have to remember to bring the USB cable with you, though… (yes, only places where you want to use the player as a thumbdrive won’t have the required cable)

      Form factor of Shuffle 1st gen was perfect in this regard…

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 10 years ago

        I have one in my car, several at work, several at home…

        Really now, they’re USB cables. We’ve all got them.

          • zima
          • 10 years ago

          Not mini ones, no we don’t…

          • Skrying
          • 10 years ago

          You’ve got USB cables in your car but no cable to charge say… your phone in your car? Interesting.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 10 years ago

            Wtf are you talking about?!?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      But if you’re a music fan, why would you be using iTunes to buy music? :p

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        Indeed. Using iTunes to buy music is implicitly accepting that you’re going to be limited in what you can do with the songs you -[

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 10 years ago

          It also doesn’t really cost any different from buying CDs, but the artists make much less money, and greedy record labels eat even more of it.

          It’s a total failure. Any good thing about it was just a lie perpetuated so that the RIAA labels would have a more advanced rip off machine than the 30 year old one they built for CDs.

          Really, just try and tell me one reason it’s advantageous and should be the standard going forward. DO NOT WANT!

          • adisor19
          • 10 years ago

          What ?! They’re UNPROTECTED AAC files. You can do whatever you want with them.

          Too much Apple flavoured hatearade this morning ?

          Adi

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Re-encoding compressed files = fail.

            • just brew it!
            • 10 years ago

            Provided you use a good encoder at a decent bitrate, the quality will still be “good enough” unless you’ve got some really high end headphones.

        • Hattig
        • 10 years ago

        Because iTunes pretty much works very simply for ripping CDs? If you don’t want to faff about (not everybody likes spending a week configuring FooBar2000) it’s ideal, even if it’s a bit slow and chunky?

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          There are other ‘user-friendly’ applications that are just as good (or maybe better – I don’t know how good iTunes is at secure ripping and error correction.) dbPoweramp comes to mind. But it doesn’t come with the metooPods so it’s at a disadvantage versus iTunes.

            • Hattig
            • 10 years ago

            And let us step back into the real world, where someone is using what they know, and can’t be bothered to learn a new piece of software (or even find out it exists, all that softwares on the internets is dodgy don’t you know).

            I used to rip in EAC and pass it on to LAME and get lovely rips.

            One day I realised it was far easier to let iTunes rip in AAC to get good enough files, without faffing about with tags and the like, and it would automatically get put in a library, and sync with my then iPod.

            Since then I am not enamoured with iPods (one broke, another stolen, new ones are too expensive now that the competition has caught up and overtaken in usability), so use my phone for audio – so that’s okay, decent phones support AAC. My other half on the other hand uses iTunes because that’s what her friend at the time said to use, has a load of AAC music as a result, and can’t get a nice cheerful player to play it.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Hey no problem, if uninformed consumers are informing other uninformed consumers that’s what happens.

            Considering that you’d already configured EAC and LAME I’m confused, once the work is done it’s no harder to use an ‘easy’ program. But if audio is less of an obsession than a passing hobby for background music I guess using dumbeddownTunes is great.

            I prefer to rip to FLAC then convert to whatever other format I like. But then I don’t buy compressed music in the first place because why pay for a known inferior product?

          • Dissonance
          • 10 years ago

          It’s not like users have to decide between iTunes and a bunch of vastly more complicated options. Ripping CDs to MP3 is pretty easy to do with Windows Media Player.

            • Taddeusz
            • 10 years ago

            Why would you want to use MP3 when AAC produces higher quality at the same bit rate?

            • no51
            • 10 years ago

            because one locks you into a family of devices, the other does not.

            • Taddeusz
            • 10 years ago

            Not really, iPod’s aren’t the only devices that support AAC. The problem is really two-fold. One, MP3 is so ingrained in everyone’s minds. Two, most people either can’t or don’t know how to tell the difference between MP3 and AAC or even uncompressed audio for that matter.

            The only real reason AAC support isn’t included is financial. Why include support when most people will use MP3? The problem with this is that there might be people that want to switch away from iPod but can’t because those other players don’t support the music they already have. It might be a financial decision but it ends up hurting them because those people are essentially forced by the competition to stick with Apple.

            • redavni
            • 10 years ago

            > those people are essentially forced by the competition to stick with Apple.

            I’m not sure the number of Apple customers that evaluate their consumer electronics purchases on technological and price merits prior to purchase would be worth the AAC patent licensing fees. The Zune (which supports AAC) has tried to compete with the IPod in the status symbol market and not done well. Less well bankrolled companies are not exactly eager to try either.

            • Skrying
            • 10 years ago

            The market Microsoft is going after with the Zune is a market only a few companies could even enter without massive costs. It’s a complete package market. People just don’t want music on their Zune HDs and iPod Touchs but also applications and other features. They also want PC software to manage those devices and add features and media to them easily. So, you need a company that can create a quality hardware device and quality software device and then integrate those in a sound manner.

            Sandisk, Cowon, Archos, Creative etc, etc are all extremely ill equipped to do such a thing. The efforts that have been pushed out there are either feature lacking on the device or come bundled with horrible software. Therefore they’ve flopped because they’re inferior products.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            What exactly do you mean by flopped? If you mean in the ‘complete ecosystem’ market that’s true but it’s a red herring because as you said they don’t compete in that market. All market share analyses I’ve ever seen show the iPod with a huge lead but Sansa second with others having a few percent.

            • zima
            • 10 years ago

            And yet those market share analyzes consistently ignore the most popular portable audio players on Earth – mobile phones.

            • Skrying
            • 10 years ago

            I’m specifically talking about the iPod Touch level products, not the iPod Shuffle, Sansa Clip+, iPod Nano, or iPod Classic, Zune 80/120 level products. Those products don’t exactly place the demands of having an entire ecosystem like a iPod Touch or Zune HD do. For instance the Cowon S9 isn’t appealing to most people because it comes across as this awkward inbetween device. Also the Creative Zii products or Archos’s larger PMP devices. They sell but their market is very small in comparison.

            • zima
            • 10 years ago

            iPods are a small minority of all portable audio players that support AAC.

      • FubbHead
      • 10 years ago

      Thank god for Spotify…

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      Oops, I didn’t realize he was talking about RIPPING music with iTunes. LOL MY BAD BRO.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      So is that a shortcoming of the music players which support the most widely used format, or of iTunes which defaults to AAC and which takes as much messing around as other rippers to output mp3?

      • Skrying
      • 10 years ago

      First… “faffing” is a really annoying term.

      Second… I agree that a media player should support AAC. It’s not a format limited to Apple products only. Many smartphones support it and many media players on the market besides the Sansa Clip+ do as well.

      I don’t really see much of an argument here. AAC is a superior format. It produces the same level of indistinguishable audio quality as MP3 but results in a smaller file. A smaller file is rather important for players in this size still. The more of my music collection I can fit on the device the better.

      It really doesn’t matter what program someone is using for ripping. The market should transition to the superior format over time. Just because a device supports AAC doesn’t mean it is going to drop MP3. Just as well starting to rip in AAC doesn’t mean a person must re-rip their entire collection to AAC.

      • zima
      • 10 years ago

      Sony /[

        • Hattig
        • 10 years ago

        Sadly the “shuffle” competitor walkmans don’t support it, only WMA and MP3 (not even ATRAC3!, lol). I assume that these cheap digital audio devices are all based on the same hardware decoder chip that does MP3 and WMA in hardware, rather than in software.

      • jensend
      • 10 years ago

      The moral of the story is to rip to lossless (FLAC, ALAC, etc) and transcode as necessary.

        • hermanshermit
        • 10 years ago

        I can’t recommend that enough. I spent 5 soul destroying months feeding CDs into my computer and it’s not a task I’d like to do again – ever.

        And for what 500GB of HDD space?

        I even wrote a script that would transfer the tags and embedded art from FLAC to AAC. Takes nearly 4 days to transcode the lot on a 2GHz core duo running 2 threads!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      You know what, my bad. It does require converting AAC to MP3, but iTunes supports it on un-encrypted files. Go to the preferences, set it to use the MP3 encoder, and then right-click the items in your library and choose “convert to MP3”

      So if you do that, you can also download from iTunes and use your files on ANY device.

    • potatochobit
    • 10 years ago

    when I had to upgrade all those little cards in my families hand phones a few years back I thought it was a such a waste of money.
    no way would i ever buy something like that to put in my MP3 player ESPECIALLY since most MP3 players plug directly into the usb slot of any computer.
    I do have a first gen sansa clip too though, it is for gym use

      • Corrado
      • 10 years ago

      What are you talking about? You don’t HAVE to use that SD Slot… but you can if you choose to. Its got a normal MiniUSB port on it and shows up as mass storage, just like the 1st gen Clip.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    Geoff I know you like to bang on Apple, but you don’t say anything about iTunes Plus non-DRM files. My Philips GoGear Vibe can play AAC – that was one of the reasons I replaced my Sansa Clip (which did not survive being stepped on in a parking lot) with the Philips.

      • albundy
      • 10 years ago

      yeah, about the Philips gogear…my backlight eventually died out and i replaced it with something a whole lot better in sound quality. i got a teclast m55, popped in a 16gb microSD card. turned on the Microsoft playFX dsp sound mode, and it blew away the Philips sound quality instantly! now the gogear sounds flat when i compare the two.

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 10 years ago

        Don’t confuse artificial brightening of the sound, with “quality”.

          • albundy
          • 10 years ago

          wow, thats alot of thoroughness in your response. care to share the evidence to backup your claim?

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