The update to the c100 appropriately named the c200 series is SanDisk’s latest small flash based MP3 player. The c200 is available in two sizes 1GB (c240) and 2GB (c250). The player sports a 1.4” 64k color screen, FM radio, FM and voice recording, removable battery, and uniquely, a microSD memory slot for the addition of up to 2 more gigabytes of memory. Audio playback supports all of your vanilla formats like MP3, WMA, and WAV files. The c200 is compatible with DRM PlaysForSure music services like Urge, Napster, and Yahoo!. The player is not high-end but does offer a nice set of features for the money.
Inside the box you will find only the basics: the unit itself, standard earbuds, proprietary USB cable, and lanyard. The good news is there are many aftermarket accessories for the c200 thanks to SanDisk’s “Made for Sansa” program. You can find cases, speaker docks, car docks, FM transmitters, and many others even now at your local electronics retailer. The c200 uses the same proprietary dock as other Sansa players so some accessories will be cross compatible.
SanDisk has pleased everyone by allowing users to choose between MSC (aka UMS) or MTP mode to transfer media. MSC mode will allow you to simply drag and drop files to the player like a removable hard disk and will work with any operating system be it Mac, Linux, and Windows. But be warned, in MSC mode album art does not transfer, nor do playlists. There is a work around for the playlist issue in the form of a custom program written by our brilliant members in our Sansa forum. MTP mode on the other hand requires you to have the latest updated version of Windows XP and media MTP based media player like: Windows Media Player, WinAmp, or MonkeyMedia to name a few.
The design is a very basic fun-sized-candy-bar design. Even though the player’s externals are made entirely out of plastic still feels fairly solid and has some weight to it. It is a big improvement over the proceeding c100 series which feels much more toy-like comparatively. The build quality is nothing outstanding but good for the price of this player. The front of the player is scratch resistant, so under normal use, you should not have an issue with marking up the screen.
Overall the screen is slightly below average for an LCD screen, but it is more than adequate for all of its music functions. What makes it slightly below average is it is slightly blurry and the refresh rate is slower than normal. The only time the screen becomes an issue is when viewing photos.
The controls are very easy and intuitive. On the front is a fairly standard setup with a 4-way directional buttons with a select button in the middle, along with the menu button in the bottom corner. The menu button also doubles as the power button when depressed for a few seconds. Pressing the wrong button is not an issue because they are spaced far enough apart which makes using the player without looking at it possible. Hold button and record buttons are on the bottom and dedicated volume buttons on the top add to the overall easy to use control setup.
If you are at all familiar with the user interface on the e200 you will feel right at home on the c200. The c200’s GUI is nearly the same as the e200, just compacted to fit on the smaller screen. For those who are not familiar with this interface, it is simple and intuitive. Most people will be able to pick it up and use it without any problems.
The good news is the battery is replaceable and unlike the e200 series, no tools are required so you can pop in an extra battery on the go. The rechargeable battery is rated at 15 hours of playtime, but I found it to be slightly less at between 12 and 13 hours under normal use.
FM / FM Recording
FM reception is not bad but don’t expect anything outstanding. Since the headphones act as an antennae, the reception may vary by headphones. The supplied earbuds work well and I found that the cheaper thinner cables produced better results. The c200 allows you to store preset stations as well as automatically fill the presets with the autoscan feature.
The player has an FM recording feature but is impractical for long recordings. This is due to the limited ability to only record in a stereo 512kbps WAV file. Since a WAV file is uncompressed audio, every 15 seconds or recording will take up about 1MB of space.
Voice recording is ok, but can only be recorded in a 256kbps mono WAV file which takes up about 1MB of space for every 30 seconds. One problem with recording is that the microphone will pick up mechanical noises from the loose buttons when they are pressed when continuous recordings are paused. On the bottom of the c200 there is a quick record button, which can be nice if you do a lot of voice memos.
A great and unique feature of the c200 series is the MicroSD slot. For added media storage you can slip in up to 2GB of memory bringing the capacity of the c250 to a total of 4GB. You should be cautioned that you can only use the MicroSD card for music; photos will not work. Also when using 2GB memory cards startup time will be longer depending on how much music is on the card.
The photo feature on the c200 is nothing to get excited about. The screen colors are not accurate and is somewhat blurry, not to mention that the screen is too small for practical photo viewing. Also, on the downside you must use the supplied Sansa Media Converter to transfer photos to the player. You cannot view photos directly dropped onto the player. Think of the photo feature as a bonus feature, but do not use it as a factor in your overall purchasing decision.
The sound quality is relatively clean and undistorted; it will suffice for the average consumer. But if want to get picky and plug the player into a quality set of headphones you will notice that it sounds flat even after tweaking the custom 5-band EQ. The c200 won’t impress the audiophile, but most people would call it slightly above average.
The c200 is a very basic MP3 player with a standard set of features with average performance. However, this is not to say that the c200 should be overlooked. What the Sansa c200 series has going for it is the removable memory slot which is a rarity among all MP3 players. Additionally, the player has an easy-to-access removable battery another fairly uncommon MP3 player feature. The c200 may not fall into the top tier of MP3 players but does have a good bang for the buck factor and will more than please the budget conscious consumer.
SanDisk has very good distribution in many brick and mortar retailers, but can also be found at many online retailers like Amazon.
- Easy interface
- MSC and MTP Transfers
- Many available accessories
- Upgradeable memory
- Removable battery
- Lackluster LCD screen
- Photo viewing impractical
- Recording to WAV only