Monday, June 25, 2007

Sandisk Sansa e250 Review

Hello there,
I recently picked up a Sandisk Sansa e250 i.e 2GB MP3 player for around $100. Well it wasn't recent, it was over 5 months ago. Anyhow, i needed a player that could play videos, and let me listen to music. and it had to be a sub $100 player. One of the many players that fit the bill was the Sansa. And what made me partial towards it, was the fact that it had just been released. So, i had the player bought, and shipped into India.


The Opinion
The sansa is a great player to look at as is evident from the pictures above. It is on the thicker side, however, it feels great in the hand. The body is glossy, and as a result, fingerprints settle on it pretty easily. However, the body is supposedly scratch resistant with the toughened alloy (Liquidmetal) back plate. The back panel is pretty damn strong, but not resistant to finger prints :)

In the pictures above, you might be able to see a screen protector applied on the screen.. This is not a standard accessory however. The buttons do lack a tactile feedback. The jog dial wheel however feels great. The buttons are just about average. The Sansa comes with an exclusive record button to record voice. Recording time depends on free space on the player. The sansa also sports a neat Record from Radio feature, which lets you record directly from the radio. The Sansa can function in MTP mode, where it would be detected as a Portable Music Device, or in MSC mode, where it would be detected as a Mass Storage Device.

On one of the side profiles of the player, you'll notice a little slot. This is a microSD card slot, which allows memory expansion. Sandisk also markets Gruvi content cards. the cards fit into this slot too. Apart from these, the player has the regular Hold button.

The screen on the Sansa is bright and clear, although it is a little on the smaller side. However, this won't matter much unless you plan on using the player for watching movies alone. The display, a 1.8" TFT is sufficient, however.

The menu is driven by the jog dial and is pretty intuitive. One gets the feel of an iPod's user interface for a moment, with the menus... However, that feeling is done away with pretty quickly, as one notices the lack of an alphabetical search feature. Only one playlist can be created in the player, and that too by selecting songs manually from the list. Dividing up tracks into folders doesn't help, as the Sansa doesn't show you a Tree view, or even folders for that matter. All tracks are just dumped into one big list. However, with a capacity of 2GB, it shouldn't be hard to go through the list to find what you're looking for.

Tracks can be played by hitting the centre button. On playing a song, the jog dial turns into the volume control. The volume setting in the Settings menu allows you to switch between a Normal mode, and a Loud mode. The normal mode is suitable for users who prefer music at a moderate volume. Loud, is suitable for users who prefer listening close to the envelope of deafness. Audio quality is good at moderate volumes, however distortion is audible at higher volumes. Even without a track playing, a faint hiss is audible in the earphones.

The player has a Video feature which lets you play converted videos. Conversion is done by the Sansa Media Converter which is shipped on a disc with the package. Conversion quality is decent, however, converted file are bloated.

The Sansa also features a Photo gallery, which lets users transfer photographs onto the player, through the Sansa Media Converter. All photographs are downsized, and rotated to suit the orientation of the screen, by the converter. Photographs may be viewed as slideshows, with music playing in the background, and even arranged into albums. A good feature, i must add :)

The FM Radio feature lets you digitally scan for radio stations. The Sansa will also let you auto scan the frequency band, and create presets for radio stations picked up. As i mentioned earlier, you can record radio transmissions too :)

And the last feature, and certainly one of the best, is the track rating feature. Every track you listen to, can be rated on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. When you set the player to "Shuffle", songs with the highest rating are played more often, than songs with a lower rating or no rating. In effect, you hear the songs you like, more often :) While songs play, track information is displayed on the screen. Hitting the center button scrolls through this information, and displays a full size image of the album cover, if available. An equalizer with several presets such as Rock, Pop, Full Bass,... lets you tweak your music for the best hearing experience. A Custom preset, lets you set the equalizer manually. The player is compatible with Microsoft PlaysForSure services like Rhapsody and Napster.

The Sansa comes with a Lithium Ion Rechargable battery pack. Recharging the device is as simple as plugging it into a USB port. A full charge will last you for around 12 hours. Sandisk advertises a 20hour battery life, playing 128kbps tracks. However, higher the bitrate, higher the discharge of the batteries.

The Sansa is shipped with a pair of earphones, which aren't too good. They sound like a cheap pair. Also in the package, is a lanyard loop, carrying pouch, USB cable, and a manual along with the CD.

  • Sleek, thin design with large 1.8” TFT color screen for easy viewing
  • Strong alloy metal casing provides excellent durability and scratch resistance
  • Simple to use, backlit controls for fast device interface navigation
  • User replaceable and rechargeable Lithium Ion battery for up to 20 hours of battery life (Based on continuous playback at 128 kbps MP3; rechargeable batteries may eventually need to be replaced as they have limited charge cycles (which vary with use and settings)
  • Features microSD™ expansion slot for additional memory capacity
  • Supports SanDisk TrustedFlash and Gruvi content cards
  • Digital FM tuner*, on-the-fly FM recording*, and voice recording
  • No FM-tuner (and no FM-recording) is available in Europe
  • Supports Subscription Music Stores
  • One year warranty
    * not available in Europe

Minimum System Requirements

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Media Player 10+
  • Intel Pentium class PC or higher
  • CD-ROM drive
  • USB 2.0 port required for hi-speed transfer

Package Contents

  • Sansa e200 Series Player
  • Travel pouch and lanyard
  • Stereo headphones
  • Lithium Ion rechargeable battery
  • USB cable
  • Quick Start Guide, CD with User Guide, & additional flyer inserts

  • Looks great
  • Not too expensive
  • Amazing feature set (read above)
  • Compatible with Microsoft PlaysForSure services like Rhapsody and Napster.
  • Strong Liquidmetal backplate is scratch resitant.
  • Below average firmware. However, this should be fixed in a few months as bugs are stamped out. Sandisk does provide an updater for Firmware updates. This is available for download on their site, and upon installing, automatically checks for updates whenever your player is plugged in. *ALSO CHECK END OF THIS POST*
  • Glossy body is prone to finger prints and scratches
  • Playlists not supported, no search feature
  • Audio quality suffers at high volume.
The Sansa e250 is a great buy if you're on a tight budget and looking for an MP3 and video player. Firmware might seem like an issue right now, but fixes are under way, including a Rockbox mod which is under development. A great buy on the whole.

EDIT (17th Oct 2007): Though i haven't used it, the new iPod Nano looks great. I would rate the iPod's audio quality several notches above the Sansa's. Comparing a Sansa to an iPod would be foolish, and given a choice between the two, i'd choose an iPod.

The Story:

2 months after i received the player, the horrid firmware borked out my player. After repeated attempts to resuscitate the device failed since the device was in the MTP mode and couldn't be formatted, Sandisk asked me to ship the Sansa to Bombay for an RMA. Sandisk shipped me a brand new Sansa e250 at no cost. The e250 i received was a newer version, and is the one in the pictures above. The new e250 hasn't given me any problems so far. I guess Sandisk stamped out the bugs that existed on the previous version of the Sansa.

There were hassles with Indian Customs Officials when the package arrived, but Sandisk handled the complete situation. Three cheers for their professionalism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey where did u shipp d sansa frm??

I also needed one dnt no if its available here..;(