n today’s review I’m taking a look at the Sansa Fuze 4GB Media Player. This player has been around for a while and is now making the rounds in the closeout and refurb market, often at a substantial discount over the original, $100+, retail price. Is it worth spending $30-50 dollars on it. How does it perform? What should you watch out for with this player? How about the features? Let’s find out…
Review continued below…
I’ve owned several Sansa MP3 Players and the Fuze 4GB Media Player has also worked out rather well for me. The player has a rubberized grip surface on the back that makes it less likely to slip from your hand and to not go flying all under the seat when you’re using it while driving. Speaking of using it while driving, the on screen user interface and the clickwheel interface are easy to use. With a little practice you can operate it by touch without any problem.
In terms of features, the Sansa Fuze 4GB Media Player will play MP3’s and WMA’s, including protected WMAs. It will also play subscription songs from services like Rhapsody, an important feature to me. The player also has a FM radio with 40 channel presets as well as voice recording (I don’t use these features myself). While it does have video support for MPEG-4 files, really, who wants to watch low quality video on a 220 x 176 pixel screen? The memory can be expanded by plugging in a microSD card. However, this memory isn’t shared with the onboard memory and can’t be used with subscription or protected downloads, limiting its usefulness.
The overall sound quality of the Sansa Fuze Media Player is quite good. Of course, the quality you get depends on the file compression and other factors. The built in EQ settings help compensate somewhat but don’t expect a full audiophile experience from it. The earbud headphones that are usually provided with the unit are OK but I prefer to swap them out with better quality headphones. The life of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is around 18-20 hours for me. Sansa says 24 hours but this seems to be a bit of a stretch. There is a 8GB model around so if you need more memory, see if you can find it for about $20-30 more than the 4GB unit.
One thing I don’t like about the Sansa Fuze is that it uses a proprietary USB cable instead of the standard mini-USB. In the past, there have been problems with firmware updates not working. You’ll probably see this mentioned in other, older, reviews. I am happy to say that Sandisk seems to be issuing much better updates these days. Even my older Sansa Rhapsody player was brought back to life with a good update (finally!).
Unless you’re married to the more expensive Apple iPod and iTunes route, I highly recommend the Sansa Fuze 4GB Media Player. I do recommend that you check any seller out that you buy from to insure that they have a good return policy, especially if you’re buying a refurbished or used player. Also make sure the cable is included in the package since it is a proprietary one.