The Sansa Clip+ is one of the most popular players on this because it’s a very good player with a lot of things going for it. It didn’t end up like that without reason, and SanDisk have benefited greatly from being active in collecting user opinions and feature requests over the years. Added software elements like Ogg Vorbis and FLAC support, file/folder browsing and hard related things like a microSDHC slot are all features that have been requested by users of this forum and others. With SanDisk actually paying attention, that means that a lot more people are willing to bring things to their attention, and we have a thread in the forums for that exact reason. Here are some of the features requested in that thread, along with some others. SanDisk, we’re counting on you to use this information well, like you’ve done in the past.
True gapless playback
Gapless playback currently only works for some but not all files. Gapless should be implemented for all files, including Ogg Vorbis and MP3 files. MP3 is by default not gapless, but it’s still possible to make it gapless.
More accurate volume control
This was an issue with the first Clip that is back with the Clip+. The volume needs to have more levels to be able to adjust the volume more accurately. Also, the lowest level is still too loud for a lot of uses (like the radio), which needs to be fixed.
Remove the slotRadio menu
One of my complaints about the Philips Spark, and a massive complaint with the not-yet-reviewed Archos 5 Android, is the amount of what can only be called “spam” on the player. As Martin put it, we paid for this device- we don’t want a menu item that does nothing but point to a URL for buying slotRadio cards. Include a pamphlet in the box, but don’t hardcode ads into the firmware.
Some people don’t hear at equal levels on both ears. Some players allow you to compensate for this with a pan/balance setting. This should be a quick thing to implement and make the player more usable to a lot of people, so this one is a no-brainer. It should be standard for all players, really.
Audiobook/podcast track skip confirm and inter-chapter rewinding
On the Philips GoGear Spark, a menu will pop up asking you to confirm whenever you try to skip tracks forward or backwards for an audiobook. This adds a crucial safeguard against suddenly losing the position in a X hour file and having to spend 10 minutes trying to find it again. Make it an optional feature as some people might find it annoying, but it should definitely be an option to get the extra warning. This is my personal biggest gripe against the Clip+ and why I have switched to the Spark for audiobooks.
Another issue is to be able to rewind into the previous track, instead of being stopped at the beginning of the file. Single files don’t often mean much for audiobooks – they’re simply there to make skipping easier – so it doesn’t make any sense to limit rewinding to the current file.
When the Clip+ reaches the end of a folder (when used in file/folder mode), it either loops the folder or stops. There should be an option to let it continue to the next folder.
Last.fm has become a giant service that let’s you both track your music habits and find similar music. Unfortunately, close to no player supports this, and those that do have half-hearted methods of doing so (like the iPod), use their own “special” last.fm-ripoff (Zune) or just happen to work with the now-abandoned Zenses. It shouldn’t be too hard to make the player keep track of what is played when, and make a small app that scrobbles this to last.fm. Rockbox already does this on the Clip v1, by writing the info to a text file you can manually upload- surely SanDisk can easily duplicate this even if they don’t make it automatic. Last.fm support can also be marketed as a major feature of the player, as many mainstream consumers would never have heard of last.fm. The potential is huge.
The Clip+ has a small screen, but with microSDHC support it can hold a lot of music. Scrolling through lists can take a long time, especially if you have a lot of single tracks (and therefore a lot of different artists/albums) or scroll through all tracks. There are several ways to do this. The Philips GoGear Spark pops up a small window on the screen when scrolling which shows what letter of the alphabet you’re currently scrolling through. This is useful, but doesn’t really speed up the scrolling much. Another way would be to use Sony’s method of scrolling by alphabetical letters, either by setting the volume buttons to do this or toggle alphabet mode on/off with the middle button (since “right” can be used to select, you don’t need to use the middle button for that as well).
Setting sound spectrum display and other things as screensaver
The sound spectrum display is nice, but it’s not really used much. What would be nice would be to be able to set it as a screensaver, so that it could turn on automatically instead of having to trigger it. Other things should also be possible to use as a screensaver, such as a fullscreen clock, song info, upcoming tracks etc. This also means you have to have options for screensaver delay, and of course no screensaver at all.
This has been an issue with the Clip since the beginning, and other SanDisk players as well. The equalizer is useless, which means that in a lot of cases the excellent sounding Clip+ won’t get recommended to people because the lack of sound enhancement. If you really want to take this point seriously, look into licensing BBE sound effects that Cowon uses. This isn’t proprietary Cowon technology and it’s peculiar how no mainstream brand has adopted what is without a doubt the best sound enhancement technology on the MP3 player market.
More options for long press
Currently, holding down the middle button let’s you add a song to a on-the-go playlist or rate it. This could be allowed to do a variety of things, from directly accessing EQ or song info, forcing the graphic equalizer, delete song, go to album, go to artist etc etc.
More accurate scan speeds
Fast forwarding and rewinding accelerates gradually, which can be a good thing, but also a big annoyance because you overshoot. Allowing the user to “gear” the speed would be preferable, for example by double-clicking and then holding the button to force slow scan speeds while single click and hold is still accelerated.
Customizable playback screen
There’s a lot than can be done with a playback screen. Allowing to select time remaining instead of elapsed time is one. Allowing to select what metadata is displayed (title, artist, album, track number, album artist etc) is another.
Marking listened podcasts/audiobooks
One of my all time favorite features with an iPod is its ability to mark files as listened to so that iTunes can remove them automatically on next sync. While I don’t expect (nor want) SanDisk to make software that auto-removes anything, it shouldn’t be too much work to add a option to enable renaming, deletion or moving of finished files. For example, once a podcast is listened to all the way through the player could rename it from podcast.mp3 to podcast-DONE.mp3. Another option would be auto-delete when finished, and a third option would be to move all finished files to a separate folder. I’m not saying pick one, I’m saying implement them all- people have different preferences. Either way, this would further help the Clip+ become the best non-ipod podcast and audiobook player out there.
Circumventing hold with a button combo
One of the things I like about the iPhone/iPod touch is that if you double-click the home button it brings up playback controls even though the hold is on. I constantly find myself needing to pause the Clip+ in my pocket but doing so requires fishing it up, turning off hold and pausing- takes too long when someone is talking to you. It would be nice to be able for pause the player by double-tapping the middle button. That button combo is hard to trigger accidentally (and it should be an optional feature anyways) and would make it a lot easier to quickly pause the player.
iTunes is the biggest music store on the planet, and Apple has 70% of the MP3 player market. Yet the Clip+ don’t allow for using iTunes, nor does it let Apple users easily convert to the CLip+ because it doesn’t support the format needed- AAC. This is however not a free format so the reasons for not supporting it are probably cost related, bit it might be worth it all in all.