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Even the name, "Sandisk Sansa Express" gives the player a modern and chic feel, without even looking at the player. When you do open you eyes, you will be pleased with the player's futuristic styling with illuminated controls.
This small and compact player still comes with a wide range of extra functions. Its is shaped like a pack of chewing gum, with the USB connection placed on the bottom of the player it is secured and concealed by a removable cover. This makes it convenient because it does not require any additional cables, however a USB extension cable is optional if the USB ports on computer are placed in an awkward place which is hard to reach or a place which would have a great risk of accidently kicking or knocking into the player whilst it is connected hence breaking it.
In addition to the solid state memory, you can also increase the capacity of the player by simply adding a memory card into the built in memory card slot. It even has a radio and the capability to record it directly.
When using the supplied headphones, the sound quality is not astonishing, but it does perform reasonably well. Upon using an additional pair of headphones, there was a greater frequency response. The player is compatible with a wide range of audio file formats, including WAV, MP3, WMA and DRM. Its file transfer rate is quite good, taking about 4.1 seconds to transfer 10 megabytes of audio files.
The menu structure is well designed and laid out, despite its small buttons it is still a user friendly player. The track information is only suited to displaying track information and it does not support audio. It is still difficult to read the information given its screen size.
Its battery stamina is decent, on average providing 21 hours of continuous audio playback.
SanDisk's Sansa Express MP3 player is one of the simpler models on the market today. It looks just like a fat flash memory stick, right down to the cap hiding a USB plug for easy cable-less transfer of files. Mine doesn't have a radio, but both models are very inexpensive considering the 2GB internal memory, which is more than enough for my 250 song collection. If that doesn't suffice, there's a microSD slot for easy expansion.
This comes with bud headphones, a neck chord, and a CD program for organizing your songs. This supports drag-and-drop file exchange so you don't really need the CD program to begin using it. I just plugged it into my computer and within 15 minutes (via 1.5 USB), almost 200 songs were added. The USB also works as a charger automatically starts the minute you plug it into your computer. After leaving this in for the initial two hours, this is supposed to give 15 hours of listening time, but in reality, it's more like 8 - a huge improvement on my old (AAA battery) Sansa which barely worked for 2 hours. Plus, rechargeable batteries are more convenient while also more ecologically and economically sound.
The menus are easily navigable for choosing play lists, equalizer types and other options like the settings. The buttons are intuitively designed and the only thing I didn't get right away was "double clicking" the forward or back buttons to get to the next or previous songs. The biggest drawback is the screen where the menus and songs only show up in about 50% of the surface so the font is very small and hard to read. Still the blue and yellow typeface on the solid black glass is very sleek and attractive.
Most importantly is the sound, and even with cheap in-ear headphones, the sound was still wonderful. The bass wasn't muddy, the treble wasn't tinny, and the midrange was clear as a bell, and I was truly pleased overall. I'll give the Sansa Express four stars out of five and recommend this to anyone looking for a simple MP3 player that is easy to use and produces a good sound.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © November 2008
July 1, 2009 UPDATE: I'm removing a star from this for two reasons. Firstly, I had a problem with this locking up on me, getting stuck at "Record" and not being able to get back to the "Music" section. I resolved this by connecting it to my computer and removing the "Record" section from the player altogether. The second reason I'm dropping a star is because the battery life is quickly proving to be far less than what they advertise. I can get only about 2 hours of playing time before I have to recharge it - and that's nothing like it says its supposed to work.
Amazon sells the one without the radio new for £43.66 or from £24.09 through their marketplace, which seems quite high since I paid only NIS 89 for mine which is only £15! The one with the radio costs over £100 in the UK and here I could have gotten it for only NIS 113, which is just under £20. I guess living in the country where the founder of SanDisk was born does pay off, sometimes!