Sandisk Sansa Connect

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Sandisk Sansa Connect

Pros

  • Downloads songs over Wi-Fi, nice colour screen

Cons

  • Slightly sluggish interface, expensive

Bottom Line

Is the wireless worth it? At $150 for a 4GB player, the Sansa Connect isn't cheap. But with a MicroSD slot included for expansion, and the ability to pull down songs from any location that has an open access point, the device's lack of storage isn't a big deal. As the first truly useful wireless MP3 player, the Connect is sure to become a popular gadget.

Would you buy this?

Announced at CES earlier this year, SanDisk's Wi-Fi-equipped MP3 player has arrived, and we've been playing around with it for a while now. The first thing that struck us about this 4GB player is that its Wi-Fi capabilities are actually useful. The Sansa Connect gives you many more sharing options than Microsoft's Zune does, all of them built around a partnership with Yahoo. Find an open access point, and you can stream Internet radio from Launchcast stations or browse Flickr photo streams. Sign up for Yahoo's portable music subscription service, Yahoo Music Unlimited To Go ($12 per month for an annual subscription, or $15 if you go month-to-month), and you'll be able to download individual tracks or albums of your choice over Wi-Fi. We'd still like to have the option of syncing wirelessly with our PC, but the streaming radio is a very nice touch.

Streaming Internet radio sounds quite good over the Sansa Connect. When we used a home Wi-Fi connection, stations took a little time to buffer, but the quality of the streams was very nice, on a par with 128Kbps MP3 files. We didn't experience any dropouts – even when we had several other network transfers going simultaneously. And if you hear a song you like, you can easily queue it up for download by using the Zing menu button just above the device's control wheel on the right. We did, however, run into some trouble trying to get the download function to work with a Yahoo ID.

The Sansa Connect's 2.2-inch colour screen isn't quite as good as the display on a 5.5GB iPod or on Creative's Zen VisionM, but it's not bad. The screen's refresh rate is just barely visible, which does count as a minor annoyance. Photos, whether streamed to the device or downloaded, showed particularly vibrant colours.

The Connect's interface is a pleasure to look at, with colourful icons, and crisp fonts throughout. Unfortunately, the Connect's scrolling dial takes some getting used to. Though it mimics the iPod's clickwheel in physical operation, the decision to place the main control at the bottom of such a modest-size device seems less than optimal. In addition, the wheel has a bit of lag to it, which makes overshooting your target in a list of songs all too easy.

Is the wireless worth it? At $150 for a 4GB player, the Sansa Connect isn't cheap. But with a MicroSD slot included for expansion, and the ability to pull down songs from any location that has an open access point, the device's lack of storage isn't a big deal. As the first truly useful wireless MP3 player, the Connect is sure to become a popular gadget.

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