I finally broke down and bought a decent MP3 player. After living with it for 3 weeks I’m happy to report my SanDisk Sansa E260 is a winner.
So what’s the catch you ask? It’s a factory refurb. Anyone that reads this blog knows I like to shop the reconditioned aisle (see Olympus E-410 Digital SLR). For these lower prices you get a shorter warranty, and usually have to download your own manual (but most electronics no longer come with paper manuals anyway). Typically these units are new returns that befuddled consumers, or gifts people didn’t want. The factory inspects and makes any necessary repairs, then makes them available through certain retailers, such as Buy.com.
The Sansa e260 4GB Digital Multimedia Device is the flagship product of the SanDisk audio line. SanDisk (get it? like without a disk) is one of the pioneers in flash memory- jump drives, SD media, etc. This player is flash-based so there are no moving parts. The design is nice looking, but more importantly, it works. The controls are simple and easy to use, even if you’re not looking at it. The back is metal with a weird heat-treated look and is supposed to resist scratches.
A new Sansa e260 will set you back about $120. Not a bad deal at all considering what you get- 4 gig of storage, a Micro SD slot in case you ever fill up 4 gig, a nice 1.8″ color display, FM tuner, voice recorder, 20 hour battery and a convenient one-plug-does-it-all USB connection. It supports MP3, WMA and Audible formats for music, plus it will store photos and video if you’re so inclined. So far, I am not. Another nifty feature, although I haven’t tried this yet, is recording from the FM radio. It claims to handle it on-the-fly, so preserving those important NPR interviews for future reference is now possible.
The Sansa connects to a USB port on your computer with the supplied cable. After turning it on and plugging it into a USB port, it was literally only one click to transfer all of my music from my PC to the e260. The port on the bottom serves as input/output to synch your music library and is also the charging receptacle. The only other connection is the typical 1/8″ stereo jack on top for connecting to analog inputs. If you need to charge the battery when away from your computer there a variety of inexpensive charging options available. Ala the iPod, there are also a variety of accessories available that connect to the bottom of the Sansa, such as speakers, chargers, clock radios, etc.
The Sansa is a great choice, an affordable alternative to the iPod. If you don’t mind the shorter warranty and downloading your manual the refurb option makes a good deal even better. Offering over 60 hours of MP3 storage (more if you opt for Windows WMA format) the e260 will serve most users well for a very long time.