Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kudos to Sandisk; respect for the Sansa Fuze

A lot of people write reviews for products they've used for a week. It seems to me that there's limited value in that: kinda like the automobile manufacturers that struggle to get the J. D. Power & Associates Award for Initial Quality.  That doesn't impress me.  How does the quality of the product and support hold up over the long term?

Over a year ago I bought a Sansa Fuze by Sandisk.  I wanted a device with Linux compatibility and support for open audio file formats like Ogg Vorbis and FLAC.  Sandisk is one of the few manufacturers I've ever seen to mention both Linux and MacOS compatibility in their specifications.  Sandisk has even gone as far as to feature Tux, the Linux Mascot, on their packaging next to the Windows and Mac logos.

But open source and open format compatibility by itself isn't impressive to me either.  What's the point of buying a device if it's inferior to the competing products like the Apple iPod or Microsoft Zune?  And what if the customer support pales in comparison to that offered by larger corporations?

No worries on either front: this device has been an absolute gem.  The firmware has continued to be developed and improved long after my purchase, the community support has been good, and my interactions with tech  support were extremely positive.

Sansa Fuze Features:
  • 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of internal storage
  • Expandable memory via microSDHC / microSD slot
  • Plays video (MPEG4 (SP) QCIF+ 20fps. Additional formats supported via the Sansa Media Converter software)
  • Plays music and audio books (MP3, WAV, WMA, secure WMA, FLAC, Ogg-Vorbis)
  • Displays photos and album art
  • Digital FM radio with 40 preset stations
  • Voice and radio recording with built-in microphone
  • Bright 1.9" screen
  • A real, physical jog/shuttle wheel
  • Up to 24 hours for audio playback and 5 hours of video playback with internal rechargeable battery
  • Music subscription ready
  • 1 Year Limited Warranty
  • Dimensions: 3.1 x 1.9 x 0.3 in. (HxWxD)
  • Available in five colours: blue, red, pink, black or silver
Would I buy this product again today?  Definitely.  At $80 CDN, it was a bargain one year ago, and the fit, finish and functionality still make it an excellent device today.

While I'm not against Apple, I do dislike the restrictions they build into their hardware and software.  If you'd like to do your own investigation of the options beyond the iPod, I recommend you browse Anything But iPod for additional possibilities.  I definitely recommend the Sansa Fuze, but if you'd like something even more compact and less expensive, I've read the same customer kudos about the Sansa Clip.