So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sandisk Sansa e140
- Lightweight, SD card slot, stopwatch and FM radio
- Bulky and cheap-looking, tacky controls, poor sound quality, poor supplied headphones, no playlist support
This lightweight unit has a couple of good features, but is plagued by multiple problems, including a poorly implemented scroll wheel, surprisingly poor sound quality and lack of playlist support.
Price$ 329.00 (AUD)
The SanDisk Sansa e140 is a lightweight 1GB flash-based MP3 player that contains a fine set of features, including an SD memory expansion slot, but it has poor sound quality and tacky controls.
The best feature of the e140 is the Secure Digital slot, which allows the user to add up to 2GB of extra memory. Most flash players have fixed, non-expandable memory.
Measuring 70 x 51 x 13mm, the e140 is bulky compared to other flash units on the market. It doesn't cup well in your hand and feels large in your pocket when sitting down. In particular, the bottom half of the unit is much wider than the top to accommodate the SD Card slot. In spite of its size, the unit weighs only 40g (with the battery), which is extremely light.
The e140 is let down by poor controls and we found the layout somewhat confusing. On the front of the unit is a large five-way pad for play control. At first glance, the pad looks like it is touch sensitive, but it turns out it requires a firm press to activate. The menu button is located on the right-hand side of the unit. We feel that the menu button in particular should have been located on the front of the unit, for easier access. The e140 has a scroll wheel on the top right-hand corner, but it feels cheap and is not smooth at all, which is a nuisance as the wheel controls the volume on the device.
The e140 software is simple but effective, although it requires using the poor scroll wheel to navigate through the menus. The lack of playlist support is a problem, as is the fact that you can't listen to an album in order unless you edit the track names to add numbers. The bright blue display is simple and clear to read, and the backlight and contrast can be adjusted in the settings menu.
The biggest drawback of the e140 is its sound. In our tests the audio quality was very poor and it lacked a decent bass. The supplied headphones were also some of the worst we've come across. We tested a set of higher quality headphones with the unit, but the sound quality was only marginally improved. The e140 includes a selection of equalisation options including WOW, Focus, TruBass and SRS 3D, but these did not make much of a difference.
The e140 supports MP3 and protected WMA files. It uses USB system for file transfers. The device appears as a removable drive when connected to a PC, and you can just drag and drop files onto it. It took us about one minute to transfer 30 songs onto the unit.
A stopwatch function and an FM radio tuner with 20 presets and auto-scanning capabilities are included. The radio quality was fairly good and the auto-scanning feature worked well.
The e140 runs on a single AAA battery, which lasted about 13 hours during our testing (SanDisk claims a battery life of 16 hours of MP3 playback). Overall, the Sansa e140 is a lightweight unit with a couple of good features, but it is hampered by poor sound quality and other significant design flaws, including the poor scroll wheel and a lack of support for playlists.
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