Review (June 2005) - SanDisk
SanDisk is a company well know for their flash memory cards (SD, Compact Flash and Memory Stick PRO), which are widely used by computer users. The company has recently introduced the new Sansa line of compact and lightweight flash-based digital music players designed for maximum portability. The e130 ($99.99 with 512 megabytes) and the e140 ($149.99 with 1 gigabyte) both support MP3 and WMA audio files and are fitted with USB 2.0 interfaces for fast downloads. Our e130 review unit measured only 2.9" x 2.17" x 0.55" and weighed 1.4 ounces without the battery. The unit can store approximately 120 MP3 songs. Windows XP users need no additional software to transfer files to the player and it will appear as a standard mass storage device when connected. SanDisk says the unit can play up to 17 hours continuously on a single AAA battery. The package includes the e130 player, a see-through carrying case, a black armband, stereo earphones, an alkaline AAA battery, USB 2.0 cable and the Quick Start guide and CD. It should be noted that the earphones included with the e130 are in-ear earphones and not ear buds. We prefer these in-ear designs as they not only fit better and are more comfortable, but they also greatly reduce background noise.
The new Sansa line also features SRS WOW® signal processing technology designed to enhance the audio for a rich, immersive 3D sound quality. The processing also improves the bass response going to the headphones. The built-in graphic equalizer has five preset settings and a custom mode that can be adjusted. The small and lightweight design makes it ideal for those who work out. The unit also features a stopwatch that runs in the background while listening to music. The built-in FM tuner works well outdoors, but can have some reception problems indoors where the signal level varies.
A small CD that contains software for managing music (Rhapsody) and content downloads is included with the unit. It also includes services for digital radio (AudioFeast) and audiobooks (Audible®) with a wide range of listening options. Rhapsody is a simple and fast way to enjoy digital music online with access to a huge library of more than 850,000 songs and 65,000 albums. Individual music tracks can be purchased online for 79 cents. Audible® is a source for audio magazines, newspapers, radio programs and more. The service has more than 18,000 audio titles to choose from and is ideally suited for those who would rather listen to publications. AudioFeast also provides listeners with music, news, sports, and entertainment programs for their MP3 player. SanDisk Sansa™ customers get a special 60 day trial period and pay as little as $3.99 a month thereafter.
Although the Sansa e130 is small and only contains 512MB of flash memory, it does includes an SD card slot for up to 2 gigabytes of additional memory. Downloading songs into the unit is quite simple. The short USB 2.0 serial interface cable included with the MP3 player is all that is needed to transfer music. Upon plugging the unit into our laptop (Sony Vaio K23), the system immediately recognized it and the unit appeared as an additional drive on our system. We simply dragged our existing MP3 files to the drive and we were ready to listen to music. We especially liked the fast USB 2.0 interface. The Menu button located on the right side is used to turn the unit on and off as well as enable the menu features. The top right side has a thumbwheel used to set the volume and select from the menu items. There is also a Hold button to prevent the unit from being changed by accidental button pushes. The face of the unit has tactile buttons that have positive feedback when pressed. There is some latency between the button being pressed and the action being taken.
- Kevin Nakano
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