My disdain for the newest iPod shuffle is not any secret. The Shuffle is an ideal instance of Apple’s obsession with type over perform: a acutely aware determination to sacrifice helpful and what some would possibly classify as important options within the identify of manufacturing the world’s smallest moveable audio participant. After all, mini MP3 gamers handed the purpose of diminishing returns on the miniaturization entrance a protracted, very long time in the past. In trade for an arbitrarily tiny physique, the shuffle makes you surrender a display, which is form of a helpful characteristic if you wish to navigate a music library, handle playlists, and even discover out what tune’s taking part in with out having to resort to a Dr. Sbaitso-style VoiceOver dictation by way of your headphones. Oh, and people headphones simply occur to will be apt to crank up the amount when uncovered to sweat. Another strike towards an MP3 participant whose one saving grace might have been its exercise worthiness.
The iPod shuffle’s greatest downside isn’t the gadget itself, although; it’s the competitors, specifically SanDisk’s wonderful Sansa Clip. I’ve been utilizing a Clip usually for the higher a part of two years now, and it’s merely improbable. The Clip is greater than sufficiently small to be a exercise companion, and it prices a fraction of the worth you’ll pay for a Shuffle. But the Clip affords nice battery life, a helpful show, and the power to resist lengthy, sweaty runs within the warmth of summer time and the chilly, depressing monsoons that make up Vancouver’s winters.
Actually, I couldn’t be happier with the Sansa Clip as my secondary, flash-based MP3 participant. Or might I?
Not too way back, SanDisk up to date the Clip with a brand new mannequin, appropriately dubbed the Clip+. This newest revision borrows closely from the unique, all the way down to its cheap asking value. A 2GB Clip+ prices lower than $40 on-line, whereas 4GB variations promote for round $45, and 8GB fashions run solely $60
Mainly, you’re twice the capability of an iPod shuffle for much less cash. The Clip+ is bigger than the tiniest iPod, after all, however at 2.16″ x 1.36″ x 0.6″, it’s nonetheless extremely small. The Clip+ suggestions the scales at lower than an oz, which primarily feels weightless when positioned in a pocket.
This newest Clip’s casing is a mixture of matte and shiny plastics. SanDisk simply couldn’t resist a shiny faceplate, which sadly picks up fingerprints and smudges with ease. I suppose the matte end doesn’t look as engaging on retailer cabinets or in product pictures, but it surely actually is a extra sturdy floor for a tool that’s dealt with consistently.
Talking of sturdiness, the Clip+ appears to be each bit as sturdy as the unique that’s lasted me roughly two years now. Nevertheless, in contrast to the primary Clip, this new mannequin isn’t obtainable in obnoxiously scorching pink. You’ll should make do with black, blue, and purple variants of the 4GB mannequin, and black just for the 2GB and 8GB flavors.
Not that you just’ll be wanting on the casing’s end, although. Your gaze will almost certainly be targeted on the Clip’s defining characteristic: an excellent two-color OLED show. The 1″ display could also be tiny, however it may possibly clearly show as much as 4 traces of textual content, even with the brightness turned all the way in which down. SanDisk equips the Clip+ with the identical easy however intuitive interface that graced the unique. Though not a lot to take a look at, the UI will get the job finished. Menu responses are snappy and responsive, permitting fast navigation utilizing the directional pad and different buttons.
The Clip+’s face additionally options primary menu navigation and playback controls, identical to its predecessor. This time round, the gadget may be locked by holding down the house button somewhat than manipulating a slider on its left edge. SanDisk has additionally finished away with the slider-based energy change, which has been changed by a single button.
I’ve heard just a few of us discuss how simple the shuffle’s headphone-based playback controls are to entry, however that argument’s at all times fallen a bit of flat with me. Maybe that’s as a result of when working or on the gymnasium, I truly discover my arms nearer to the place I’ve the Clip, er, clippedI typically route headphone cabling below my shirt or down my again to maintain the dangling wires from getting in the way in which. Even when working at a full pace, I can simply attain down and alter the Clip’s quantity or skip tracks in seconds, all with out wanting.
A wide range of music enter choices
The Clip+ options a normal USB 2.0 port for knowledge transfers and charging, and there’s a brief cable within the field together with the participant. Software program isn’t included, I believe as a result of it’s not wanted. The Clip+ performs properly with Home windows Media Participant, Winamp, and scores of different music administration software program. Or, you possibly can eschew auxiliary purposes altogether and deal with the Clip as a USB storage gadget, dragging and dropping audio recordsdata from Home windows. And the Clip+ can play nearly any audio format you throw at it: MP3, WMA, Ogg, and even FLAC. DRM-encrusted iTunes downloads needn’t apply, although. I assume the shuffle does one factor higher than the Clip.
Should you’re accustomed to the primary Clip, you’ll know that SanDisk actually hasn’t added a lot so far. That modifications once we flip our consideration to the gadget’s proper edge, which contains a microSDHC slot that can be utilized to develop the participant’s storage capability through pinky-thumbnail-sized reminiscence playing cards. You’ll be able to slide in a slotMusic or slotRadio card, as properly. The previous is basically an album on a reminiscence card, which appears applicable for the handful of people that one way or the other personal an MP3 participant however don’t have a PC to load it up or an Web connection by way of which to acquire audio recordsdata.
SlotRadio is a bit of totally different. These are reminiscence playing cards that provide a “radio expertise,” minus the annoying commercials and commentary. Playing cards are grouped by stylerock, nation, classical, and the likeand you’ll choose one up for about $40. In return, you get 1,000 tracks organized into playlists purportedly crafted by precise DJs.
I do know what you’re pondering: $40 for 1,000 songs works out to solely 4 cents a monitor, which is virtually AllofMP3 low cost. However you’re not getting 1,000 MP3s and even DRM-protected audio recordsdata. You’re getting a group of playlists whose contents aren’t even fully detailed. The Rock card, for instance, boasts songs by 24 individually named artists and “many extra.” Simply what number of extra is tough to say, and also you don’t even get monitor data for the few artists whose names are listed.
At the least you possibly can see the monitor identify and artist when it’s taking part in on the Clip+. Nevertheless, you possibly can’t choose songs individually, simply the predefined playlists. Skipping forward on a playlist is allowed, however you possibly can’t return, which appears particularly spiteful. Actually, then, slotRadio prices a heck of much more than 4 cents a tune, for it’s essential to additionally surrender numerous freedom.
I’m positive with slotRadio being a little bit of a large number, as a result of you possibly can nonetheless load up a normal microSDHC card with your individual music and plug it into the Clip+. The tracks on the reminiscence card shall be built-in into the participant’s music library, supplying you with unfettered entry to them. Refreshing the library does take a minute or two, although.
Apart from, when you actually desire a radio expertise, the Clip+ has an precise digital FM tuner inbuilt. There’s a microphone, too, must you want to make the most of the gadget’s voice-recording capabilities to protect any epiphanies you may need on the go. After which you have got the precise clip, which retains the participant properly anchored with out the necessity for a case.
One won’t count on nice sound high quality from an inexpensive, mini MP3 participant. The primary Clip was famend for its clear playback, although, and the brand new mannequin is not any totally different. Actually, the included headphones are even higher than these included with the unique. They’re nonetheless simply low cost throw-ins, however they’re extra comfy than the inventory iPod earbuds. They sound higher, too. So far as I can inform, the brand new buds are additionally unaffected by sweat and rain. Think about that.
I’ve been utilizing the Clip+ usually for the higher a part of two months now. Along with taking it working and mountain biking, I’ve additionally had the Clip function my major MP3 participant for on a regular basis use and journey, changing the bigger hard-drive-based participant that I normally lug round. The decision? This actually is a Clip+: all of the goodness of the unique plus a bit of additional.
present costs, you don’t even should pay a premium for the microSDHC slot. Nevertheless, having a card put in will scale back the Clip+’s battery life from round 15 hours to lower than 10, in my expertise. Nevertheless, with the largest-capacity Clip+ providing 8GB of inside storage, most folk in all probability received’t want a reminiscence card. Even with out one, the Clip+ remains to be the most effective mini MP3 participant I’ve ever used.