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Sandisk Sansa Clip Review

In the congested MP3 market, Sandisk has been enjoying healthy success with its Sansa range. Competing with the heavyweight iPod, Zune and Zen ranges is a pretty big ask, but Sandisk reckons it has some clever tricks in its range. In this review we’ll look at the Sansa Clip 1GB, which sits squarely in iPod Shuffle and Zen Stone territory.

First impressions

Unboxing the Clip reveals an ultralight but solid feeling player, with an iPod-esque control pad and decent size screen. The whole unit, including the clip, is larger than the iPod Shuffle due to the built-in display.  Tricked out with a four line ultra-cool OLED screen, FM radio, voice recorder and spring clip, the forty dollar Clip beats the Apple and Creative competition on paper. Several EQ options, backlit controls for low light and play & play USB connectivity complete the specs.

Navigation is pretty easy, it turns out that the control wheel is actually a textured four way pad with good responsiveness to touch. A home button exits out of menus. The OLED screen is as bright as expected, and is easily readable outdoors.

Loading on music is a simple case of plugging in a USB cable, dragging songs into the Windows Media Player sync pane and clicking on ‘Start Sync’. WMP transferred each song to the Clip in about two seconds then automatically disconnected the Clip when done.  You can also copy files across to the Clip in a file explorer window if you prefer using it that way.

How does it sound?

Plugging in Beyerdynamic DT250 reference headphones revealed a fairly balanced sound output from the Clip. Most importantly there was no over-emphasis of bass frequencies, which can create muddy playback especially when paired to a bass heavy set of consumer phones. The EQ settings were disappointing and probably best left alone unless you have a particularly poor set of headphones, in which case the onboard five band graphic might help.

Moving away from the neutral 250s to the more consumer hi-fi style 231s, the Clip delivered a great listening experience which was upfront but not tiring. Basses were solidly resolved and stereo imaging was good. For an MP3 player, there was also plenty of detail in the top end which never became drowned out by the mid or bass frequencies. Dance tracks came thumping through the cans and rock had me reaching for the volume control.

The FM radio is a useful feature and reception is decent enough for occasional use. The Clip held on to stations (as well as my shirt) walking through my apartments, witching automatically between stereo and mono when the signal weakened. The Clip can store presets and record from the radio. The voice recorder function is also a useful addition.

Overall the Clip is an outstanding music player for the price and should have the execs at Creative and Apple more than a little worried.

Neil Berman

Apr 27, 2008 Posted by | Audio, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

XP extended to at least 2010 on Asus EEE style computers

Michael Dix’s announcement on Thursday that Microsoft would now offer Windows XP Home until at least June 30th 2010 tells us one thing: the Redmond giant is getting more sensitive to its little customers.

The message behind the April 3rd statement seems clear: Microsoft is nervous of losing a whole market to Linux and Google-apps-cloud-style computing. That market is what Dix called the ULCPC (Ultra Low Cost Personal Computer), which includes the amazingly popular Linux-powered Asus EEE, Everex Cloudbook and forthcoming models rumoured to be on the way from Acer and HP amongst others.

In the past I think Microsoft might have just said, ‘our current platform is Vista, make your hardware better‘. However on this occasion market forces led to the creation of a more viable option. Most EEE buyers are probably happy with the price/power/battery trade-off in the unit. I know I am. Would I pay another few hundred bucks for a same size, same screened EEE with enough power to run Vista? No way.

So Microsoft will now continue offering XP Home to OEMs of ULCPCs for the next few years. Good decision, and well done for responding to customer opinion. Dix said there is no intention to extend the sales period similarly for other XP versions. In any case, Vista sales have just reached one hundred million licenses so I would not expect the other versions to get a further extension.

Microsoft’s statement was swiftly followed by Asus announcing that they would start selling an XP-powered EEE on April 9th, priced at $400. The specs are believed to be identical to the existing 4G model, only this time some of the nice bits, such as the webcam, are more likely to work out of the box with applications like Skype. According to Laptop Magazine, XP boots in 40 secs on the EEE. That’s pretty quick for XP. Asus is going to sell bucketloads of these.

A few weeks ago Microsoft reinstated support for certain legacy file formats in Office 2007, following requests from the user community. I would expect that users of those legacy formats (mainly Office 97) are already strong candidates to move to OpenOffice or Google Docs. Perhaps this reversal from Redmond might keep them on side for a little longer.

Is there a trend emerging here? Perhaps the giant is feeling like some dwarf’s are getting taller.

Neil Berman

Apr 6, 2008 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile, News, Software | , , , | 1 Comment


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