The review unit came with 8GB memory which is the largest size, they also come in 2GB and 4GB versions. All have a microSD slot which can take up to a 16GB card (which should take 32GB cards when available). In the box there’s a USB to mini USB cable and a pair of obligatory earphones which are OK, but nothing to write home about.
The Clip supports a reasonable range of music formats such as MP3, Microsoft’s WMA, WAV, FLAC, Ogg and Audible (for protected audio books). It doesn’t support various MP4 or AAC formats (which Apple use for tracks on iTunes).
The screen shows 4 lines and is readable in sunlight (though you may have to squint a bit), the menus are relatively simple and when on an item clicking the centre button or right button (skip forward) take you into that item. Clicking the left button (or reverse skip) takes you back. You can also always press the separate ‘home’ button which will take you to the home menu.
SanDisk do provide Windows software (and it’s Windows 7 certified) but Mac users just get to see a removable drive (or 2 if there’s an SD card). The structure of the file system is quite obvious as there’s a MUSIC folder where you plonk all you music files. There’s also AUDIBLE, AUDIOBOOKS, PODCASTS and RECORD folders and some miscellaneous system files.
As well as playing pre-recorded music, the Clip+ has an FM tuner (that needs the earphones plugged in to work as it uses the cable as an aerial). Though you can store presets, it doesn’t support RDS (i.e. named radio stations) which is a surprise for a modern device so you have to know what stations are on what frequencies. It will auto-seek to find a clear station though. It’s also possible to record from the FM radio into WAV files (in the RECORD folder).
There’s also a voice recorder (and a built-in microphone) so voice recordings can be made (also in WAV format).
SanDisk also have a thing called SlotRadio which is really a read-only micro SD card with pre-recorded music in 320Kb/s MP3 format (non protected) and the Clip+ supports it.
Using the supplied earphones is ok, but nothing special. Using some high quality earphone may show up the weaknesses of the Clip+ (tested with Shure SE420s which are superb). The songs just lack punch, they’re clear but compared to an iPod they sounded weak, even with the EQ turned to dance or bass boost.
If a track is paused and then the radio is used, going back to music will play where you left off. The same’s true for audiobooks and podcasts.
The Clip+ seems to do some kind of local indexing when you transfer content into it and this can takes a minute or so with a fully loaded SD card. When new 32GB cards come out, this could take a while.
Tracks can be found under albums, artists, songs or genres, My Top Rated or Playlists. There’s no alphabet search though which means finding a song on player with lots of memory can be painful.
The Sansa Clip+ player isn’t the best music player out there in terms of looks or quality (it’s all plastic, though a sturdy plastic), however it’s small, light and easy to carry around and cheap.
The 2GB version costs £37.90, the 4GB £45.90 and the 8GB (reviewed) £62.90 from Sandisk’s site, though if you search on-line you can find the 8GB version for around £40. Oh and it also comes in black, maroon and blue.
Steve Kennedy has been in the telecoms and internet industry for over 20 years. Initially designing hardware and programming in the medical electronics industry he then rose through the ranks at Cellnet, Demon Internet and eventually THUS as Head of Product Futures. He is now a director of the governing body for ENUM in the UK and is also a director of DBVu which is developing centralised monitoring and performance analytics for MySQL databases. He writes for various sites, has been quoted in trade press (as an independent industry expert) and is also an early stage investor, usually in technology companies.