SANDISK SANSA CLIP+
BY JERRY ADAMS
June 25, 2014
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
Manufacturer: SanDisk Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sandisk.com/
Listed Weight: 0.85 oz (24 g)
Measured Weight: 0.84 oz (24 g)
Size: 1.36 x 2.16 x .60 in (34.7 x 55 x 15.33 mm)
The Sansa Clip+ is a portable mp3 player and FM receiver. I have the 4GB version. They also make 2GB and 8GB versions.
This gadget is the most amazing piece of electronics. It is tiny. It runs for about 15 hours on a charge. The 4 GB of memory holds about 80 hours of recording. Plus, it has a decent FM receiver. But there are some durability issues as described in "Field Use" below. This almost cancels out all of the goodness.
It weighs 0.85 ounces (24 g) but it requires earphones so that has to be included. With the earbuds that came with it, it weighs 1.25 ounces (36 g). It clips onto my shirt or hat, or I can put it in my pocket. It weighs so little I can hardly tell it's there.
It comes with a short cable that plugs into a computer USB port. This cable weighs 0.75 ounces (21 g). This is used to recharge the Clip, and download mp3 files.
For backpacking, the 15 hour run time is not sufficient, so I got a "lipstick charger" with 2200 mAh capacity that weighs 2.6 ounces (74 g) and cost $6. This provides another 60 hours of playing time. It takes about 2 hours to charge the Clip.
On the front there are:
* a small LED display screen
* four arrow buttons
* an enter button
* a menu button
On the top there's a power button.
On the side there are:
* volume up and down buttons
* plug for the USB cable. It's a tiny plug
On the opposite side there's a slot I can plug a memory card into but I've never tried this.
Figuring out which buttons do what is complicated, like similar electronic devices. They have a user manual that explains it. I can switch between FM and mp3. Select which mp3 files to listen to. The display shows what it's doing. The display turns off after about 10 seconds to preserve battery life. Good luck figuring out how to do all this.
The FM receiver is quite good. I've used it a lot in the wilderness and it picks up faint signals pretty good. I have another portable radio that occasionally picks up a station that the Sansa is incapable of picking up, but it weighs a lot more. If the signal is faint, sometimes I hold it with my hand, or hold it at arm's length, or clip it to my hat and then it works better. The earbuds cord is the antenna. Favorite stations can be pre-set.
The 4 GB of memory holds an amazing amount of material.
About 20% of the memory has 11 music CDs that I randomly selected. That's about 10 hours. If I get no FM reception I can always listen to these. I put the CDs into the computer and downloaded to a folder on the computer. Each song on a CD is a separate mp3 file. Then I plug the Sansa into the USB port. I have a PC and use Windows Explorer. The Sansa appears in "Computer" like a hard drive or a CD. I can then copy the mp3 files onto the Sansa with Windows Explorer. There are other ways to do this but this is about the simplest.
It takes a long time to download files. It could take a couple hours to download from the internet and then download to the Sansa to totally fill it up. Sometimes, I have to download one chapter of a book at a time - a few mouse clicks and then wait a couple minutes to download. Requires a few hours when I'm doing something else and frequently go back to the PC and download the next chapter. There's probably a better way to do this. Some books can be downloaded with one set of mouse clicks and then wait an hour for it to download.
I put audio books in the rest of the memory. I download free mp3 files from the internet. http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks is one site that has classic books like by Aesop, Asimov, Austen, etc. those are just a few of the "A"s. They have a link to 1000 free online courses like a bunch of courses from Yale. I have just touched the tippiest part of the tip of the iceberg, and the iceberg is getting bigger faster than I can download mp3s.
Another way to get mp3 files is to find a YouTube video. Copy/paste the URL into youtube-mp3.org, click "convert", and click "download" to download the mp3 to your PC.
There are also sites where you can pay for mp3 files, for example for more modern books or music.
Like I said, this is the most amazing electronic device and it only cost me $30.
Holding the Sansas with earbuds in my hand:
There's a piece of tape over the volume control so I don't accidentally hit the volume down button, because if that happens, I won't be able to hear anything and it will become useless because the volume up button broke.
The Clip also keeps the time and date but it's a bit awkward to see it. I have to press "menu", "menu", "down" four times, "enter", and "down" four times.
I've used the Sansa Clip for about a year. That would be about 60 nights of backpacking. I typically used it for about 8 hours each day when I'm hiking. I listened to FM radio about half the time and mp3 files the other half.
Like I said, the FM receiver works pretty good. I can usually find a National Public Radio (NPR) station even when I'm hiking in the Cascades of Oregon and Washington, the Olympic Peninsula of Northwest Washington, or the Trinity Alps in Northern California.
Occasionally, if I'm in a really noisy environment like next to a waterfall, it's sort of difficult to hear, but otherwise it's plenty loud enough. The sound quality is fine, but this isn't very important to me. I'm guessing that the Sansa doesn't have the highest fidelity for music. When I'm listening to the Sansa I can still hear environment sounds, like the time the rattlesnake was shaking it's rattle at me.
One minor complaint, is that sometimes it takes a lot of button pushes to do something. Like to switch from FM to an audio book I have to push - "menu", "menu", "up", "up", "up", "enter", "right", 8 "down"s, "right", "down", "right", "enter", "enter". But, this is sort of typical for similar electronic devices in my experience.
The durability of the Sansa is horrible, and almost cancels out all of the amazingness of this device.
The first unit I got stopped working. Maybe there was a little rain on it. I returned it to the retailer and they sent me a new one.
The second unit I got fried when I charged it in my car. There was this burning smell and it got warm. I never got another sign of life out of it. I was beyond the retailer return period so I sent it back to Sansa and they sent me a new one.
I've used the third unit for about 8 months. Very happy with it. I never charge it in the car, because the previous one fried. I never let any rain get on it. On my last trip, it fell and hit a rock. It hit where the volume up button is. I can no longer adjust the volume up. Fortunately, the volume is fairly loud so it's still usable. Still, it's sort of handy to turn it up in noisy environments and down in quiet environments.
If I get one year of usage for US$30, maybe that's not too bad. If I am very careful, maybe it will last longer before it dies. Hmmm... I'm still within the one year warranty period. They replaced it once, maybe Sansa will replace it a second time. I better check that out... Nope, they won't replace it because it had physical damage.
Sansa has another unit, the Sansa Clip Sport. It weighs a tiny bit more and says something about being more durable. Maybe I'll get one of those instead. It costs about $10 more, which would be worth it if it didn't break.
Occasionally, I'll accidentally brush up against the Sansa and push a button, like it will switch to a different station. Not a big deal though because it doesn't happen too often. Still, it gives me the impression that this part of the design of this product wasn't prioritized.
The Sansa Clip+ is a tiny mp3 player/FM receiver.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
The FM receiver is quite good, although not quite as good as the best portable FM radio I've used.
The 4GB memory holds about 80 hours of music/audio books. They also have an 8GB version for about $10 more which I'd probably get the next time.
I can clip it to my shirt or hat or put it in my pocket.
The Sansa battery lasts for about 15 hours, but I carry a tiny/cheap charger to extend this.
I have only begun to find all the free mp3 files on the internet. But some things like recent books or music will cost something.
The user interface is a bit awkward - it takes many button pushes to do things.
The reliability and durability is poor. So bad I would consider not getting this. If I just used it indoors it would be okay. If I really babied it would be okay, and it's so cheap that I could get a new one whenever it broke. There's another model, the Sansa Clip Sport that I think may be more durable.
The buttons aren't recessed so it's easy to brush up against them and accidentally push them.
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