The Sansa Clip has been a favorite among many as a quick and cheap way to listen to digital music. It has been a player for beginners and enthusiasts alike with a straight forward user interface along with top notch sound quality many times being paired with headphones and amps 10 times its price. For these reasons we made the Clip the number one MP3 player for 2008.
Since the Sansa Clips was release we immediately started screaming for a Clip with a microSD card slot, sure the Fuze had the same sound quality and features but it didn’t have the compact size that many users appreciated about the Clip. SanDisk has responded to our requests in the second generation Clip dubbed the Sansa Clip+. In addition to adding the microSD card slot SanDisk has taking the time to improve the player all around rightfully giving it its second generation badge.
- SanDisk Sansa Clip+ Specs
- Size: 2.16 x 1.36 x 0.6 in.
- Weight: .85 oz.
- Colors: Black, Maroon, Blue
- Capacities: 2GB, 4GB, 8GB
- MSRP: $40, $50, $70
- Supported Formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, Ogg, Audible
- Included Accessories: (2GB, 4GB, 8GB)
- Battery Life: 15 hours
- Features: Sleep Timer, FM/ FM Recording, Voice Recording, Music Subscription Capable
The first generation Clip felt cheap, but most didn’t care because the cost was cheap. The Clip+ got a really nice overhaul in terms of build quality; the creaky plastic has been replaced by more robust matte black plastic as the main backing and clip. The face is similar to the original Clip- a clear plastic with colored backing.
One thing to note is that the clip on the back is now not removable. Though if were one to go clipless with the first Clip I supposed you could get crafty, break it off and file down the remaining nubs. This could be handy when pairing it with a headphone amp.
In addition to creating a sturdier player, attention was paid to improve the locations of the buttons. This was much needed since the placing of the volume controls and headphone jack was awkward on the original Clip in addition to the not-so-ideal slider style on/off/hold switch. The volume controls have been moved to the left side of the player now away from the headphone jack. The on/off/hold switch was replaced by a top on/off switch. Hold is now preformed as a long press of the home button.
The two color yellow and blue OLED screen is the same as the screen on the original Clip. Brightness can be adjusted and is readable in direct sunlight. It might be a bit cramped but its readable and gets the job done.
One of the great things about the Clip+ is that the firmware did not have to be reinvented. Short of a few tweaks the Clip+ uses the same stable firmware as the Clip. So this last year or so of feature requests and bug lists have not gone to waste. While there will inevitably be firmware updates in the future, you can expect a stable firmware from the start.
With that said, you will notice that this review will read similar to the first Clip review in terms of features and functionality.
SanDisk gave us the best of all worlds when it comes to connection the Clip to your OS of choice. The Clip+ is set to automatically detect your OS’s preferred method, MTP or MSC, but will also allow you to manually select which mode you prefer. Both of these are drag and drop and each have their own advantages. For instance MTP is better for playlists and synching with media software and MSC is more versatile if you use several different OSes. If you have no idea what I’m talking about here, no worries just leave the setting on “auto”. The Clip+ is also certified in Windows 7 and uses Device Stage.
The biggest news is the addition of the card slot. Currently you can turn your 8GB Clip+ into a 24GB player with the addition of a 16GB microSD card. In the future when 32GB microSD cards are available you will be able to carry 40GB in a player the size of a matchbox.
You can put music on the card then put it in the player or you can load it from the player. The card will show up in your computer as a separate storage location. One of the nice features is that an icon next to the track will signify that it is stored on the card.
One thing that concerns many is the time it takes from the database to be refreshed when the card is inserted. If you are one to switch cards a lot it may be an issue since a full 16GB card may take around 2 min t
o refresh the database and be operational.
SlotRadio is a format of microSD cards introduced by SanDisk. The SlotRadio card contains a thousand or so tracks which are played back in a preselected order by channel. You cannot select these tracks or make playlists out of them; it plays more like a radio would. I already covered this format extensively in the SlotRadio review if you want to learn more about it.
The thing that annoys me about the addition of SlotRadio support is that the main menu now has a “banner ad” for the SlotRadio feature. It is a main menu item in that when you click it, it gives you a URL to find out more information. Nice to make people aware of this format but for those who won’t ever use this feature it’s just clutter. SanDisk needs to make this menu item disappear until a SlotRadio card is inserted- just like they did with the Sansa Fuze.
I bought many Clips for non tech friendly people and all of them have taken to the user interface without issues. It is intuitive and straight forward with a low learning curve even for the beginner. As you might have guessed, it’s the same exact UI as found on the v1 Clip with some minor but much needed menu organization, though I will mention that they have given the UI a feeling of motion by animating the transitions. This actually makes a big difference in the feel of the interface giving the users a better sense of where they are in the menu further reducing the learning curve.
FM Radio & Recording
Reception is OK on the Clip plus, a little better than the original but still far from prefect. I could easily pick up all the stations around me but the further ones I could normally pick up with other players were not as clear. Picking up stations on the TV’s at the gym, however, worked well.
If you are interested in recording the radio, the Clip Plus will do that, recording in WAV format.
Voice recording is also another feature of the Clip+ and is handy for recording lectures or voice notes. The mic is located on the back above the clip and does a decent job of picking up sound. This like the FM also records to a WAV format.
Audio Books / Podcasts
The Clip Plus just like the original Clip does a great job of handling audiobooks and podcasts. Under music these each have their own sections. Podcasts and audiobooks will remember your position on a per track basis so you can listen to several at a time without losing your place. Chapter support is also in place for Audible audiobook tracks. Speed can also be set on only the audiobooks at slow, normal, or fast.
Music & Media
Browsing media is straight forward and similar to many MP3 players, but one thing that should be mentioned is the addition of folder browsing. This is a feature many have been campaigning for since the introduction of the first clip. The main menu allows you to browse by all, recently added, artists, album, song, genre, top rated, playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, recordings, and now folders. This option is accessible in both MTP and MSC mode and is split into two sub menus of internal and uSD memory. So for those who like to keep their music organized by folder, your feature is here.
ABC browsing needed: One thing I would really like to see is a way to quickly jump to parts of a list by letter, similar to what Creative or Sony does. This is very important since adding a microSD card will put you in the 24GB range and possibly 40GB in the future. I’m not entirely sure of the best method to approach this since the screen size and current UI provide limited options to bring up an on screen alphabet. One way this can be done is to use a long press on the center button. The long press there is already a short cut to add the track to the go list or to rate a song, so this would have to be another option which you might not want to replace with your current short cut, though it would fit nicely there since it could also be in the option menu. The other option, and I think this would be the best way to do it would be to bring up the alphabet list when a long press is executed on the forward button. It might be a bit hidden, but it would be very intuitive and quick to access.
The Clip+ has a single “go list” where you can add tracks to a single list but cannot delete one or reorder them. Ultimately full playlist creation and manipulation would be ideal, but this is not a bad second option. Full playlist creation is something that is in the works and we may see it in future firmware updates.
Outside of the device you can create as many play lists as you like though your media player of choice or with a simple right click in MTP mode on Windows machines. If you are using MSC, playlists are still supported but require third party programs to create them. Check the Clip forums for details.
Sound quality was the Clip 1’s forte, very straight forward and clean and one of my favorite in terms of sound quality. Comparing the original Clip to some of Cowon’s players it tended to be more analytical, more precise, less on the warm side. Not one being better than the other, but being more of a preference. The Clip+ has moved to a bit warmer signature closer to what you might find on the Cowon S9. In my opinion this is an improvement. Regardless to your preference you will find that the Clip Plus is one of the best sounding MP3 players on the market.
The Clip+ does have a 5 band EQ along with some presets, just like the original. While it’s not as tweakable as some of the more robust EQ it does still lend well to adjusting to suit your taste or headphones.
Somewhere in the process of updating the Clip v1’s firmware they added support for ReplayGain and this is present in the Clip+. This is a non-destructive normalization method where information on the tracks loudness is placed in the meta data. This means that all tracks will have the same volume and prevent clipping. Your files will have to have this information embedded in them at the time of ripping or some desktop media players may add this info.
The Clip+ is a very welcome update to the original with improved build quality, design, and UI. The big news however is the addition of the microSD slot. Being able to upgrade your capacity for cheap is a very appealing feature of the Clip+ especially in such a small form factor. The ability to have potentially 40GB of music in very small space is a minimalists dream. The great sound quality, transfer protocol, and folder browsing will very much appeal to the enthusiasts, but the Clip+ is still very well suited for the tech beginner. Even if you just spent a few hundred dollars on a top of the line MP3 player I recommend picking one of these up just for a backup or for use at the gym. With a price starting at $40 the Clip+ is a great value for tech noobs and digital veterans alike.
You can find the Clip+ in many brick and mortar stores, but if you want to pick it up online, Amazon UK) is usually the best place to purchase. (May not be available just yet since it is so new.)