Somehow, I can’t help comparing it to the iPod nano, its de facto main competitor in the MP3 player field.
SanDisk’s Sansa Clip Zip MP3 Player is a modest, inexpensive update to the Clip+ (its main difference is the color screen), and a welcome addition to SanDisk’s Clip line of MP3 players. It’s actually more of a direct competitor to the iPod shuffle than it is to the iPod nano, but it shares so much with the nano that you just can’t help comparing the two.
The Clip Zip is a tiny thing, but is gargantuan compared to the iPod shuffle because it’s got a 1.1″ color screen, and its closer in size to the nano. It’s actually kind’a almost twice as big as a nano, and a little thicker. It’s light, and comes in two sizes, 4GB and the 8GB, and while these size limitations might put off some people, you’ll be glad to know that you can beef up the storage capacity because the Clip Zip takes microSDHC cards, and you can pack in up to 32GB of additional storage, thereby making the gigabyte gripes moot.
The controls are mechanical rather than touch-based, with a central action button surrounded by four other buttons that control play and pause, volume and playlist navigation, plus one dedicated back button that seems oddly out of place on the upper left of the control panel. There is a large clip (hence the name!) on the back of the unit that lets you clip it to your shirt or shorts or wherever you’d prefer to clip the Sansa Clip Zip.
The device reads MP3, DRM-free AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files. There is also an FM tuner, a voice recorder and a stopwatch feature. It also allows you to store audiobooks and podcasts, although it doesn’t carry your photos like the nano, and it doesn’t have a pedometer.
It ships with a crappy pair of earphones, and I suggest you use the money you save from buying the Clip Zip and immediately purchase a decent pair. Other than that, the Clip Zip sounds mighty fine. It also comes with a short, sturdy USB cable that allows you to charge and sync the device to your computer.
Adding songs to the Clip Zip is old-school simple: just hook it up to your computer like a USB flash drive, then drag-and-drop the songs to the Music folder. It also ships with a mini-CD that updates the firmware and loads Rhapsody onto your Windows computer. Rhapsody? It’s a program that integrates well with the Clip Zip, allowing you to easily add songs to the device. Mac users are limited to dragging-and-dropping files from iTunes, or from your music folder.
The Clip Zip takes a bit of time for it to boot up (so much for the zip), but waking it from sleep is quick and poses no problem.
Another annoyance: the FM radio tuner. It doesn’t auto-scan and therefore goes through each and every frequency. Plus, it has a tendency to sometimes skip active stations, forcing you to go back and search for them again. Fortunately you can set up presets for your stations.
Finally, it takes more key presses to get to some of the menu items than in other players out there, so it sometimes gets tiring scrolling and clicking on the options.
But the Clip Zip sounds adequate, even at high volumes, with nary a buzz or splatter (provided you replace the earphones, of course). The battery lasts for 15 hours, and is enough to carry you through the day. It sells for US$50 for the 4GB, and US$70 for the 8GB model if you can find it, and comes in different colors.
It’s an adequate, eminently portable MP3 player, and comes with some extras like a color screen, an FM tuner and a stopwatch. For its price, you could say the SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip is the poor man’s iPod nano, with most of the features that are essential for a personal music player these days, without the high price.
Price: Around US$ 50 for 4GB / $70 for 8GB
You must be logged in to post a comment.