Ergonomics, design and bundle
Once you’ve opened the packaging, you find the usual bundle inside: the player, a pair of headphones, a USB cable, a CD-Rom (not much point in this) and a brief manual. This is a small player, smaller than the Mozaïc. Well chosen colours on glossy plastic give it a nice look without overdoing it, a bit like the Creative Zen V. The control buttons are on a false scroll, like those in the rest of the range. It’s agreeably rubbery to the touch. The finish is nothing extraordinary, just average. The “click” on the controls, like you get on some mobile phones, is something we could well have done without. Nothing to be worried about in terms of its solidity though. As you might imagine, this player comes equipped with… a clip! You can take it off and its of pretty good quality, stopping your player from falling to the bottom of your pocket from where you yank it using the headphone wire – stop looking at me funny everyone! You know you’ve all done it at least once. The headphone socket is on the side, which isn’t a good idea for a small player. We would have preferred to have it underneath.
So, to sum up, we’re somewhere under the Mozaïc from Creative but still, the Sandisk is pretty good.
It has a monochrome screen with a four-line display. Sandisk has avoided the usual mistake of trying to produce a micro-player that has everything on it, To watch videos on a one inch screen you have to be pretty damn keen. The browsing is what you’d expect. Four menus: Music, Voice, Radio and Settings. The first allows you to browse by artist, album, genre and title. It also gives you access to the ratings, playlist and activation of the equaliser. The second menu gives you access to the dictaphone function, which is pretty basic and average in terms of quality; ok in an emergency. Then you have the radio, on which you can save 20 different settings. If you want this feature make sure that it’s included when you buy the player: some of them don’t have it! In the settings menu, there’s nothing particularly exceptional or remarkable. We’ll come back to the equaliser in our audio section below.
The Clip boasts a playback time of 15 hours and, in testing, actually went for a few minutes longer. It recharges quickly, which is a real bonus.
We give the Clip four stars here, just.
Now we’ll move on to audio quality. We may as well come out with it right away: the Clip is amazing. All the evidence shows that the Sandisk is in a class of its own in this category. It is even up there rubbing shoulders with the big boys, like the Cowon X5, D2 and the Samsung P2 – although still a little behind. It is really amazing to see such a small player with this audio quality. When pushed to the limits it does drop off a touch and lacks body slightly. Nothing too dramatic however. Another good thing, there is very little hiss. If you add to that that it has OGG and FLAC support (see the firmware box), what else can one ask for, except maybe AAC.
One piece of advice: avoid the equaliser. To avoid saturation at some frequencies, it lowers the general volume when on. And this has a detrimental effect. Everything sounds much flatter, muffled, while on the default setting, the sound is clear and detailed, without any harshness.
As you might expect the audio power is nothing extraordinary. No one was intending to use a huge pair of 600 ohm headphones with it were they? No problem with mobile headphones and speakers however.
Another good point, this is both an MTP and UMS player, allowing you to synchronise your files via your other player, or simply copy and paste just like you would on any USB. It is also compatible with Mac and Linux.
When it comes to the headphones however, once again things are pretty disastrous. A real stain on the audio quality of this player!.
A real success this product then. The only question: four or five stars? If you prioritise the design and ergonomics, the Clip doesn’t deserve any more than four. If however you put the accent on audio quality, there’s no argument. The Clip gets all five. On a larger player, I would certainly have penalised the finish more, but on such a small machine, the ergonomics can’t be expected to be much better and when it comes to audio quality, the player can handle headphones that cost up to 5 or 6 times as much as it does… So we’ll give it five.
Over to you now.
- Excellent audio quality
- Nice appearance
- Supports different formats
If Sandisk continues like this, its rep as a media player maker will gain in stock even more. The Clip is a great success in terms of audio quality. A little bit more work on the casing look and we'd no doubt have the ultimate ulta-mobile media player.