Slim, feature-filled portable media player
When taking a look at our product shots, you'd be forgiven for thinking this review is just another write-up of the latest iPod nano. In design and style, Sandisk's latest portable media player, the Sansa Fuze, certainly resembles its competitor from Apple. However it packs in a few features not found on the nano, including voice recording, an FM tuner and a microSD expansion slot. It also reproduces excellent quality audio, making it a strong choice for users after an all-purpose portable media device.
- Attractive design, great audio quality, lots of features, microSD expansion slot
- No gapless playback, screen not great quality
The Sandisk Sansa Fuze is another solid entry into the flash-based media player market. It has a nice array of features and delivers excellent audio, although the lack of gapless playback was annoying at times.
Price$ 145.00 (AUD)
Coming in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB models and sporting both video and audio playback, the Fuze joins the ever growing collection of slim, flash-based players that can do the lot. A year or two ago, video was basically the domain of larger, hard disk players, but that has all changed, with users now able to get a get a tiny yet versatile device at a low cost.
One of the most impressive elements of the Fuze's performance was its audio quality. Some of the best sound we've got out of a portable device has come from small flash players; the Fuze joins the elite few that have really impressed us. We tested using a high quality pair of IEM headphones and were blown away by the clarity and richness of the audio. Bass extended deeply and the mid-range was detailed and sweet. Audiophiles should be more than satisfied with the Fuze' sound quality.
We weren't as impressed with the video playback. The 1.9in screen isn't bad by any means: it produces a fairly crisp picture with no noticeable stuttering or frame loss. However its contrast was quite poor, which led to a lot of detail loss in dark areas, and the colour balance was a little off. It's fine for occasional use, but we wouldn't recommend this unit for serious video watching.
Aside from video and audio, the unit also has a built-in FM tuner which operated well in our tests. We got good reception indoors and it has all the usual features, allowing you to save up to 40 presets and record from the radio straight to the memory. A voice recorder is also present; while it won't replace a dedicated voice recorder, it is adequate for the occasional lecture or general note taking.
The interface was simple and easy to navigate. Sandisk has employed a scroll wheel, and although it isn't touch sensitive like Apple's players, we found it responsive and tactile. The menu is well labelled and even novice users should have no trouble configuring and using the Fuze.
It has all the standard features including a five-band equaliser, shuffle and loop modes and a photo viewer. There is also the aforementioned microSD card slot, which lets you expand the memory up to another 8GB. However, there is one particularly noteworthy omission: gapless playback. It's been a while since we used a media player without this, and it was extremely disruptive listening to some albums and having giant pauses between songs.
MP3, WMA, WAV and Audible files are supported for audio, and MPEG 4 files for video. The player shows up as a removable storage device when connected to a computer. It comes with no software, meaning a simple drag-and-drop process is used to transfer media onto the memory.
Aesthetically the Fuze is extremely similar to the latest generation iPod nano. With a thin, squat design and a range of colour schemes, this unit looks attractive and is easy to slip into a pocket and forget about. It also feels quite sturdy. Fingerprints are an issue on the glossy surface (as always).
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