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Old 04-04-2011, 12:55 PM
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kredig kredig is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Berlin
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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 06:01 AM.
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