SanDisk Sansa Fuze Review

Continuing in my quest to find a new, full featured, digital audio player, today I take a look at the SanDisk Sansa Fuze. What does this new player from Sandisk offer the buyer? Is the price right? How about the features? In this review I’ll examine the SanDisk Sansa Fuze and see how it measures up.

Review continued below…

First of all, like the earlier Sansa digital audio player I owned, the Fuze is well designed. One improvement I noticed was that the back is rubberized and that makes it easier to grip. Smooth metal or plastic backs are often slippery. While I prefer the basic black, if you want a different color you can get the SanDisk Sansa Fuze in red, silver, blue and pink too. The on screen user interface and the clickwheel user interface are simple and intuitive.

So far as features go, the SanDisk Sansa Fuze comes in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB models. It will play MP3’s and WMA’s, including protected WMAs. The unit also has a FM radio with 40 channel presets and voice recording. Video support is for MPEG-4 files at only 15fps and 220 x 176 pixels, which isn’t good, but I can’t see myself trying to watch video on a tiny 1.9″ screen anyway. The memory can be expanded via a microSD card but, as is typical, this memory isn’t shared with the onboard memory.

Sound quality from the SanDisk Sansa Fuze seems good although some EQ tweaking helps, not to mention the quality of the source digital audio files. The earbud headphones that it comes with aren’t terrible but aren’t great either so replacing them with higher quality earbuds is highly recommended. Rechargeable battery life is about 20 hours on average, less if you run the video a lot.

On the minus side, the SanDisk Sansa Fuze uses a proprietary USB cable rather than a more standard and practical mini-USB. This is a big annoyance to me. I am also concerned about the stability of the firmware which has already seen some updates. This was a big issue on my previous Sansa DAP. My last minus is the price. While there are some substantial discounts hitting the sales channels these days, $129 for 8GB seems a bit pricey to me.

My verdict on it is that while I like some things about the SanDisk Sansa Fuze the minuses outweigh them. I could live with the proprietary USB cable if I knew the firmware was stable and that doing an update wasn’t going to ‘brick’ the unit. I’d also want to find a better price on the Fuze as well.

 


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4 Comments »

2008-08-01 07:41:13

The SanDisk Sansa Fuze is a nice looking digital audio player, but I share your concern about the proprietary USB cable. I don’t live so close to a large computer or audio store, so replacing cables can be something of a hassle. And they do get lost occasionally.

I agree with you too that the price on the SanDisk Sansa Fuze seems too high for only eight gigs of storage.

 
Comment by Cheap Cowboy Boots
2008-08-07 13:39:49

I’m beginning to see lower prices on the SanDisk Sansa Fuze … I may take another look at it when prices get low enough.

 
Comment by JRR
2008-08-10 21:55:16

I got a spare USB cable for my Fuze from eBay for $5. $129 is high for 8GB? Compared to what, an iPod Nano at $199 and no FM and no expandability?
I’d rather have a standard USB cable as well. Unless they’re planning on doing something nifty through that connector, like remote controls or A/V outputs, it’d be better to just use a standard connector. Of course, this is pretty much a “standard” connector for Sandisk; it’s the same as their View and some other players in their line.
I just got mine a couple of weeks ago, and I have yet to have a single problem with it. It’s run between 2 and 14 hours a day since getting it. The firmware seems rock stable. I’ll be extra happy when the new firmware comes out that will add OGG and FLAC support.
I don’t have super great headphones, just some Koss PortaPros, but when we played with it at work, the sound is a touch crisper than a friend’s iPod Touch on some classical tracks. I may try some more later with some high end Sennheisers.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-10 22:26:54

Hi JRR,

$5 is a great price for the USB cable. You got a good deal on eBay with that one.

$129 for 8GB is kind of on the high side. Sure, it’s below the always pricey iPod but it’s higher than some other competitors that are about $20-30 lower, including some of Sansa’s other models that are being discounted heavily right now.

I’m glad to hear the firmware is good. My previous experiences with a Sansa player and the updates causing problems made me wary.

 
 
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