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Old 04-04-2011, 01:55 PM
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kredig kredig is offline
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Lightbulb Sansa Fuze+ review

so here is my review. i have made some pictures but they are all blurry for some reason. i am going to take some tomorrow again.


After my Creative ZEN X-FI2 broke i was looking for a new inexpensive MP3-Player. I found the Sansa Fuze+ quite interesting because i was looking for a player with a micro-SD slot and a decent battery life.

I know that the Fuze+ is out there for a longer time now but the ABI website does not have a review at all of this player.

I have read a few reviews about this player before and there were not only positive ones but I have to say that this player got better and better like a good wine with the firmware updates. So this review is about the newest firmware (02.37.01).

Specifications/Features:
Capacities (colours): 4GB (black, blue, red), 8GB (black, blue, red, white), 16GB (black)
2.4" screen
Digital FM Tuner with record functions
Battery Life: 24 hours for audio playback and 5 hours of video playback
Expandable with micro-SD and micro-SDhc
Ready for slotRadio™ & slotMusic™ memory cards
Audio formats: MP3, WMA, Secure WMA, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Audible, Podcasts
Video formats: MPEG-4, H.264, WMV and Flip Video
Photo formats: JPEG and BMP (photo formats can be further extended with Sansa Media Converter PC software, enabling TIFF, GIF, and PNG formats)


Boxing
There is nothing special really about the Box. It is only a greyish box where you can see the player itself in the front. The unpacking was a pain though: I do not know why the companies cannot invent boxes where you don't have to break the box in two pieces. So you have to be really careful in unboxing the player.

The content in the Box is basic: the player itself, a short manual, a pair of headphones, a usb-cord and a little bag. I was actually surprised about the bag: It is the first player I have which brought it right out of the box. It is really useful to keep the screen clean from scratches. One weird thing about it though: you need to use the bag upside down because otherwise the player will fall out of it if you are carrying the player in your trousers.
The usb wire is long enough to put the player on the table or on the PC-tower. I have had players before where the cord was way too short (like 10 centimeters).

Design
Many people are complaining about the design of the Fuze+. They say that it is cheap looking and just a plastic gimmick. But actually I really like the design. I got the fuze in black and I have to say that it really looks elegant. It does not look or feel cheap at all.

The on/off button is on the top of the player and it is also the hold button. On the left is the volume button and the slot for the micro-SD at the bottom. The usb-slot is at the button of the right side (unfortunately no B-jack).
The jack of the headphones comes at the bottom of the player. I really like this because if you have headphones with a straight jack then you won't have so many cable breaks.

Screen
The screen is a 2.4” LCD screen. It works with a resolution of 320 x 240. The brightness and background colour can be adjusted by the user. For me the screen looks really good for its size.

Firmware
SanDisk was really busy about updating the firmware. At first it was really buggy but it got better with the updates.
It is good to know that there are companies out there who care for their customers.

Transferring Media
Like the Clip/Clip+ the Fuze+ leaves the choice to the user if he wants to use the MTP or MSC mode. Also there is an auto-option where the player detects the OS preferred method.
Both methods support “drag&drop”.
Back then when I had a Samsung T9 or the first version of the clip I remember that the MTP-Mode was much slower than the MSC-Mode. Not this player: Transferring music on the device does not take a long time.
Only in MTP-Mode: If you have a LastFM account you are able to scrobble the played tracks via programs like Zenses. Really nice if you want to keep your stats up to date.

For videos you can use several options to put them on the player: Win7 knows when the resolution or format is wrong and asks you to convert them. You could also use the Sansa Media Converter (does not know mkv files and gave me some errors) or you use programs such as SUPER.

MicroSD Card
The biggest capacity you can add is a 32gb card. So the biggest capacity is 48gb (16gb + 32gb MicroSD). The card will show up as a second drive (as “external” in the MTP-Mode) on your computer and it also works with “drag and drop”.

Scanning for a 16gb card takes a bit when you disconnect the player from the computer. But if it is done everything works smooth. The start-up time increases a bit but it is still alright. With the card removed it takes around ten seconds. The start-up time increases with a card inserted (16bg) about 20 seconds. It depends how many files the card contains.
The SDcard is integrated in the normal library. The songs are marked with a little card sign next to the title. You can also access the card separately in the main menu.
I have no clue why Creative, Samsung or Iriver does not support this feature. I don't know about cowon.

I don't have any experience with the SlotRadio feature. If you are interested take a look at the Clip+ review on this website.

User Interface
The user interface works pretty smooth. Sometimes it freezes shortly but only when you touch the pad too often at once. This happens not often though.
The menu contains Music, Video, Photo, Podcasts or Audiobooks, SDcard, FM and options. You can adjust the menu to your own needs. But only if they shall be displayed or not and not the order.
For “Music” I really would like to see something like “now playing” option. Or at least I could not find it yet.

Features

FM Radio & Recording
Usually I don't listen to radio anymore. It sounds okay to me. But I think Creative sounds a bit better.
The recording is the same as the clip: It will record in WAV.

Voice Recording
Like almost every other Player this player is able to do voice recording. Like the feature says: it is only for voice recording and for nothing really else.

Audio Books/Podcasts
This has its own menu. 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.

Music & Media

Browsing Media
You have two choice to navigate through the menu: either you touch the direction on the pad or you pull it with you finger like on a touchscreen.
For the menu I'd just tap it once because it goes much faster. Otherwise for scrolling through the library: There I'd recommend the scrolling feature. There is also an option where you can jump to other letters in the library (max jump 3 letters I believe). It's better than the Clip+ but ABC browsing like the Sony or Creative players would make it more simple.

If you are further interested about the menu and scrolling then you can take a look at the Fuze+ website:
http://sandisk.com/microsites/sansafuzeplus/index.html
There are some videos about it.

Playlist
The Fuze+ has a single “Music Go” playlist where you can add the songs from you library. This works pretty smooth. Also there is a “My Top Rated” Playlist. If you have your songs rated then the highest rated songs should appear there. I noticed when I transfer the music with MediaMonkey then it keeps all the ratings.

Also you are able to create playlists on the computer with other programs like MediaMonkey. They all worked properly on my tries.

Audio

Sound Quality
The first Fuze had the same soundchip as the clip. I do not know about the Fuze+. I still have an old clip and when I compare them, the Fuze+ sounds a bit warmer and has more bass (in my opinion the clip has a lack of bass). The overall sound is really good. There is no such thing as a sound enhancer like other brands offer. This isn't needed with this player anyways.
With the X-FI2 I had the feeling that the sound without the enhancer was muddy, so I had to turn it on. Also it is better for the battery life without sound enhancers.
I have tested several headphones: UE MetroFi 170, UE SuperFi 4, Sennheiser CX 300, Creative 630 and some AKG (I think those where K450). I never had the feeling that any of those headphones sounded bad (even the included headphones). There always was plenty of bass if needed (even the SuperFi4. I have had a few problems with the X-FI2) but the mids and highs were always noticeable. There is also no gap between songs. So the playback is pretty gapless. Entirely it was always a pleasure to listen to.

The Specifications do not mention WAV as a supported format. But they also work since voice and radio recordings are recorded in WAV.

EQ
There are a load of presets but I didn't like those (like usually). I always recommend the “custom” option where you can use the 5 band EQ and find the right sound since every headphone sounds different.

ReplayGain
This is really useful when you use shuffle with different albums. It adjusts the volume of the songs so you don't have loud and quiet songs. This is just a simple description for this. If you are further interested just use Google

Video and Photo
There are two different options: landscape and portrait to view videos and photos. It is just an option to watch them vertical or horizontal.
There is a difference between the resolution of photos and videos. Videos must have a resolution of 320x240. So either you use the Sansa converter, use windows (which was faster than the Sansa Converter when I tried it) or any other program for this. There are many guides out there for newbies.
The videos look really good. When you tab to the right on the touchsensor the video will jump. On longer videos this can take a while. So be patient.

For pictures there does not seem to be a maximal resolution. The player itself adjusts the size. Really nice! But you can also use the Sansa converter again.
The screen shows its best on pictures. They look nice and clean. Also you can use a photo as a background picture. This feature was a bit hidden though.

Album Art
I have never had a problems with album arts on this player. Sometimes they don't show properly at first but the player just needs to load them for a few seconds.
One thing annoys me a bit: For some reason some album arts have a white border around it. This looks kind of ugly to me. All my album arts are usually not inconsistent.

Pricing
Since the player is a little older there is a good chance to get it for a really good price. I got my 16gb Fuze+ for only 90€ at amazon. Here is a little chart (4-4-2011):
SanDisk(4gb,8gb16gb): $80, $90, $120
Amazon.com: $60, $60, $100
Amazon.de: 55€,70€,90€

Conclusion
The Sansa Fuze+ is a nice player. It offers a nice build quality, good battery life and nice sound for the price. If you are looking for an inexpensive player with a video/photo option and don't need a touchscreen then you should go with this player.
If the internal memory isn't enough then there is also the option to insert an MicroSD card which works really well. Newbies will feel really comfortable also as people who owned a view players before. There isn't really much to concern about.



Last edited by kredig; 04-16-2011 at 07:01 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-04-2011, 03:00 PM
glove4 glove4 is offline
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I still believe the Fuze+ to be a solid mp3 player, no matter the bad rap it gets on these boards. The touch navigation is not quite as bad as people say.
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:27 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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How much music in GB was on the player as you reviewed it? How much on the card? How much on the player? I'd like to know that to know if the newer firmware has addressed the serious issues from when I had one.
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:44 PM
krazzydude krazzydude is offline
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Kredig I appreciate your review ,perhaps you have not read my suggestion.
I am suggesting again to cover following aspects:
1. the capacity of your player AND how much capacity is filled(audio,video and other files)
2. whether you using micro sd card,if yes,class and capacity
3.touch response(cover comprehensively this aspect -touch response and time lag)
4. sound quality(comparison with any other player if you own/owned)
5.thoughts about new lock function.
6.boot up time(with and without card)

@skip252: If you are talking about sluggishness then it is still a known issue to be addressed in future firmware.
The major changes so far are change of lock mode(from play/pause to top power button) and fast going back to main menu.
The folder option is in pipeline.

Last edited by krazzydude; 04-04-2011 at 03:54 PM.
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  #5  
Old 04-04-2011, 03:47 PM
krazzydude krazzydude is offline
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Tip regarding Unboxing of Fuze+(I cut my finger and badly bleeded when I first unboxed Fuze+).
Take inner packing out of carton.
The Fuze+ is enclosed in plastic en closer the top is transparent while back is milky plasic.
Make cut from back(milky side) using blade or paper cutter be careful not hurt self and neither scratch the player.
Make the cut around the protruded back side.
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  #6  
Old 04-04-2011, 05:56 PM
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kredig kredig is offline
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@skip 252 (i have read your post too late... sorry) and krazzydude:
1 + 2: i have got a 16gb fuze+ with a 16gb sdcard (class 2) which is pretty fast (a bit more than 4mb/sec writing).
i have had about 11gb on the internal and 10gb on the external memory filled with music. i had 8 videos running (4 internal / 4 external) and 50 pictures (25 on each memory).

3: the touch response is good. if you are only scrolling around then will do your input almost in the same time. but if you are opening there is a teeny weeny gab. but this is nothing compared to the x-fi2 which was really sluggish.
when you open an artist with many albums for the first time then the device will nag around a bit which means that you should wait until the album arts are loaded. otherwise the scrolling is chunky.

4: the fuze+ sounds defenetly better than the creative ZEN mx and maybe the x-fi2. the sound is more clear comparing to those. also i have the feeling that the sound in the whole is more detailed. the instruments seem to sound more seperatly but this isn't a bad thing. the creative players i had were a bit more "mushy".
like i said in the review, the sound is better as the first clip. but it is only a slight improvement (there wasn't much to improve anyways).
i don't know if it is still valid but i think the samsung t9 is still the player with the best sound i had. but this is 3 years ago already. there i had always the feeling of a full sound which none of my previous players could compete to.
5: the lock is alright with the power button. it is still simple to unlock. maybe it would be better if you have to move (with the touchpad) an object out of the screen or something like that.
6:
Quote:
With the card removed it takes around ten seconds. The start-up time increases with a card inserted (16bg) about 20 seconds. It depends how many files the card contains.

by accident i have found a way to get back to the "now playing": just push the "back" button in the menu. this will do it.
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:29 PM
krazzydude krazzydude is offline
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thanks Kredig.
Samsung sounds good because of sound enhancement features(DNSe).
If someone is using good quality headphones/earphones than sound enhancements are not required as one would prefer neutral sound over colored sound.IMO
also as a tip when you are in main menu say music,then vertical swipe and last 10 or so tracks will be displayed. You can change similarly FM radio stations.
the body seems scratch prone(glossy) so lamination or casing is suggested.
If your card shows write speed of 4MB/sec than it is likely that it is Class 4 and not Class 2.
You can also join Sandisk forum and suggest any improvement/feature.
It is first time I see that any company has provided forum for product feedback and indeed some suggestions are provided by way of firmware(say change in lock feature).
The key to using touch pad is when unit responds in correspondence to touch(this requires a bit of learning).


originally posted by glove4:
Quote:
I still believe the Fuze+ to be a solid mp3 player, no matter the bad rap it gets on these boards. The touch navigation is not quite as bad as people say.
+1 buddy I am with you.

Last edited by krazzydude; 04-04-2011 at 06:38 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-04-2011, 06:36 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Thank you for the load and response time info. It does seem that the updates are addressing the sluggish behavior I experienced. The firmware I was on would have locked solid with that many files.
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  #9  
Old 04-05-2011, 04:54 AM
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kredig kredig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krazzydude View Post
If your card shows write speed of 4MB/sec than it is likely that it is Class 4 and not Class 2.
nope, it is defenetly class 2. i have read many reviews about this card (sandisk 16gb microsdhc) that the speed was much fast than class 2 should be. if you need a card i can just advice you to get this one (it's cheap also... around 20€).
maybe the class description does not count anymore
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  #10  
Old 04-05-2011, 05:23 AM
krazzydude krazzydude is offline
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here is what I use
http://s4.postimage.org/u1ore2w9h/sandisk_003.jpg
you can see "4" mentioned in a circle.
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  #11  
Old 04-08-2011, 12:30 AM
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9mmtylenol 9mmtylenol is offline
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Yeah, I use the 16gb microSDHC also, when searching for an "iPod Killer" I found this player and bundled it with that card so mine is a 32gb. Also the 32gb Sony Walkman X is about $499, so I know I made a deal when purchasing the player. Although I can't seem to find out how to give the videos on the player thumbnails.
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  #12  
Old 04-15-2011, 10:50 AM
jj2me jj2me is offline
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Thanks, a great review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kredig View Post
Video and Photo
Videos must have a resolution of 320x280. So either you use the Sansa converter, use windows (which was faster than the Sansa Converter when I tried it) or any other program for this.
240. Normally I wouldn't mention an obvious typo, except in context it almost reads like if you don't have 280, you need a program to convert.

My one question before buying, because I like to just pop in μSD cards with V-Mate (a Sandisk recorder of TV) videos and play them: Can the Fuze+ play videos stored in the root directory of the μSD card? I've asked this question twice on the Sandisk forum, but got no answer.

$50 shipped for the 8GB from Toys R Us (U.S.) in purple, black, or blue.
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:25 PM
megafan2000 megafan2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj2me View Post
Can the Fuze+ play videos stored in the root directory of the μSD card?
I doubt it. I tried that on my original Fuze. It will only find the videos in the "Video" folder, just as it would only find music in the "Music" folder.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:11 PM
jj2me jj2me is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megafan2000 View Post
I doubt it. I tried that on my original Fuze.
Thanks. I too tried that unsuccessfully on my original Fuze. Since the Fuze+ has different firmware (Sansa View based?), I was hoping it might behave differently in this respect. My Sansa Connect *can* find a video in the μSD card's root directory, so maybe... I'm still hoping some kind person might test this for me, as that capability is just about my only reason for buying the Fuze+. I have way too many MP3 players already.
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  #15  
Old 04-16-2011, 07:02 AM
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kredig kredig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj2me View Post

240. Normally I wouldn't mention an obvious typo, except in context it almost reads like if you don't have 280, you need a program to convert.
whoops. thank you. i corrected it.
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  #16  
Old 04-19-2011, 09:07 PM
Lacene Lacene is offline
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Great review, kredig....thanks for your efforts. I have the original Fuze as well as the original Clip, and IMO the Fuze has a fuller, seeming more powerful sound than the Clip, which still has great sound but seems a little weak to me at driving headphones. I think the Fuze just has more power at driving music than the Clip, and this explains the slight difference in sound (warmer and more bass) between the two players. Regarding your comparisons with the Zen X-fi2: I've found that Creative players from around the ZVM era and beyond have what is known as the "Creative Sound", which is a distinctive warmer, sometimes referred to as fuller sound. I don't think the very early Nomad and Zen players had this type of sound.

It seems to be a very quality low-end flash DAP, as all Sansa players have been beginning with the e200 series. I'm enjoying my 1st-generation Fuze greatly, and when it ever bites the big one, I imagine the Fuze+ will be it's immediate replacement.

Thanks again for the review!

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Old 04-19-2011, 09:35 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lacene View Post
I have the original Fuze as well as the original Clip, and IMO the Fuze has a fuller, seeming more powerful sound than the Clip, which still has great sound but seems a little weak to me at driving headphones. I think the Fuze just has more power at driving music than the Clip, and this explains the slight difference in sound (warmer and more bass) between the two players.
The Clip, Clip+ and the original Fuze all share the exact same audio processing equipment and sound. If you are hearing differences you probably aren't matching volumes properly when you listen for differences.

I had a hard time believing the Fuze and Clip had the same volume until I tested them by recording the max output and measuring the Replaygain values in foobar2000. There's no difference between the two. The Fuze puts out no more or less than the Clip.
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:03 AM
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kredig kredig is offline
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i remember the discussions well when the fuze and the clip were new. on each side they said that either the clip or the fuze sounds better... but at the end, they do have the same soundchips and there shouldn't be a difference in the sound.
but what about the clip+ and the fuze+? do they have different chips? i cannot compare those because i don't own a clip+.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:39 PM
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epithetless epithetless is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kredig View Post
but what about the clip+ and the fuze+? do they have different chips? i cannot compare those because i don't own a clip+.
I don't have them both to compare soundwise, but I do know that the Fuze+ uses a chipset from an entirely different manufacturer (not AMS like the Fuze, Clip, and Clip+).
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  #20  
Old 04-20-2011, 02:10 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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I don't have the Fuze+ any more. I just couldn't deal with the firmware as it was then. However when I did I did volume matched A/B testing against the Clip+. I also recorded the output signals, volume matched those to the original then ABXed the resulting signals.

My very subjective, very amateur result was that I couldn't tell one from the other. I just couldn't reliably identify which player was producing the signal. Someone else with better ears or RMAA results may be able to tell the difference but I couldn't.

One other disclaimer. I don't have any difficult to drive multi-armature phones and unless a set of IEMs are very sensitive with very low impedance I don't hear hiss even with my Sony players. That puts my opinion as to sound quality on the lower rungs. But I really doubt anyone would be disappointed with the Fuze+ SQ with standard 'phones listening to decent bitrate files.
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