Thursday, November 09, 2006

Research - Sansa e200 series

Okay, so I researched the second possibility on my wish list, the iPod Mini replacement. Because I mainly use the Mini to listen to podcasts and music in my car, it had to be small enough to easily fit into a cup holder. Also, it had to be light, since I don't leave it in the car, to keep down the weight of my work bag.

Flash-based MP3 Players seemed to be what I wanted (Flash memory being more resistant to bumps than hard drives).
The first MP3 Player I looked at was the SanDisk Sansa e200 series.

The SanDisk Sansa e200 series has a lot going for it. I first mentioned it in my Blog on Wednesday, April 12, 2006: "Technology moves fast (sometimes)" , but to recap:

Available in four storage capacities, 2GB (Model Number e250), 4GB (e260), 6GB (e270), and 8GB version (e280). SanDisk had an 8GB Flash-based player out months ahead of Apple. Until September this year, the 8GB version was known as the highest-capacity flash-based player in the world. It also cost the same as the 4GB iPod Nano.

The e200 series was initially my first choice, being packed with features, the most important being a user-replaceable battery. There is a major downside to iPods and many other MP3 Players - the battery only has a limited life (100 full charges or so). When the battery finally dies, unless it is a user-replaceable battery (and they are few and far between - the manufacturers would obviously rather have you buy a new MP3 Player). Anyway, Apple apparently does have a plan where you send in your dead iPod with about $70 and they send you another one, usually a refurbished one.
With the SanDisk Sansa e200 series a replacement battery costs about $20, and all you do is remove 4 screws to replace the battery.
The Sansa e200 series also has an FM Tuner, can play videos (on a 1.8 in screen), and has MicroSD expansion slot. Music can either synchronized to the player using Windows Media Player (a requirement for subscription music), or copied via drag and drop. You can also run myPodder software from directly from the player to manage podcasts. This feature really excited me. That was, until I found out that if you lose your place in a 30 minute podcast it is difficult to Fast Forward and find your place again - the Sansa just doesn't offer the fine control with Fast Forwarding and Rewinding that other players do. That was the deal-breaker for the otherwise promising Sandisk Sansa e200 series for me.

You can get a 6GB Sandisk Sansa e270 for slightly less than a 4GB iPod Nano, but no amount of useful features and even a highly competitive price matters if the MP3 Player doesn't do what you want it to.

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