Recommend this product?
The Sansa Fuze is primarily an mp3 music player, but can also be used for watching videos via the integrated 1.9 inch color screen. In addition, it offers a some 'bonus' functionality:
- FM Radio - with the headphone cable functioning as antenna, you can listen to your favorite radio stations and store them as one of the 40 available pre-sets. The FM Radio functionality comes in very handy in the gym where the TV sound is often transmitted via radio frequency.
- Voice Recorder - can be used to record and store personal memos or any other sound you may want to record. The recordings can be listened to either on the player itself, or transferred to the computer.
The user interface's primary feature is the blue-lit spin-wheel with center 'click' button. This spin-wheel not only looks and feels very cool but its use is quite intuitive. This somewhat similar to the iPod, with the difference being that this is an actual spinning wheel that is turned with your thumb.
The whole package comes in a sleek, shiny, case available in different colors, smaller than a credit card and only 0.3 inches thin, complete with a pair of surprisingly high-quality earbuds.
Storage capacity and format
This particular model comes with integrated 8MB memory, which is plenty for music (about 2000 songs in 128 bps sample rate) but once you get into videos you may be looking for more. And this is where the Micro-SDHC extension slot comes in. SDHC micro memory cards are pretty much standard today and can be bought in 2- 4- 8 or even higher capacities. A 8MB extension card will run you 10-15 Dollars and provide additional storage for another 2000 songs or about 5 hours of video! This is a clear advantage over the Apple products- Sandisk is a memory manufacturer, after all.
Once connected to the computer via USB cable, it can be formated in NTFS and will show up as a USB drive with standard folders and files on your computer. This means you can view the Sansa's file system via standard windows explorer, and manually drag, drop or delete files if you feel like it. For me, this is another big advantage over many other players, including Apple. For the latter, you will need special software such as iTunes to access and manage the player's content- not so with the Sansa. You can use the standard software on your computer, namely windows explorer and/or Windows Media player to manage your Sansa Fuze.
Supported File Formats
Audio files can be MP3, or WMA, whereas Videos are supported in MPEG4. Again, these are standard file formats, no special software will be needed to convert to these, with the exception of perhaps Videos, in case you want to rip a DVD and put it on the player, for example. For this case there are a number of freeware applications out there, for example AnyVideoConverter. Once more, I consider this a big plus compared to the proprietary formats used by other players, requiring special software.
Personal Experience after one year of use
I primarily use the Fuze for the gym, about 2-3 times a week, but also outdoors on the bike or running occasionally. Sound playback is of very nice quality and can be adjusted using pre-set sound profiles or equalizer. The user interface is intuitive with the standard functions such as play/stop/repeat, fast-forward and back; nothing special to mention here nothing really seems to be missing or annoying.
The FM Radio I use occasionally, and it is working OK but when you have a station with weak reception, it will fade in and out with movement (remember the wire to the earplugs functions as antenna).
I'm also using the video playback occasionally and have ripped a couple of kids DVD's so I can give it to my 6-year old on a long road trip for example. Again, no complaints here, works as expected, but keep in mind this is a 1.9 inch display so it's pretty small.
Battery life is very good, and my experience is in line with the manufacturer's specification of 24 hours run time. I only have to charge it about once a month or every other month- this is quite remarkable compared to all other MP3 players, I've used, including the Apple.
Now to the main negative point: The 'stuck wheel' problem. When you google 'sansa fuze stuck wheel' you'll see that it is quite common for the spin-wheel to get stuck, or move roughly. Not surprising, when you think about it, as small dirt particles or liquids (including sweat) can get trapped inside. This can be a very frustrating experience as this is the central part of the user interface, and when it's not moving you are really stuck! Reading on the web, there are a number of suggested solutions for this, including opening the player (not recommended!), but I have found it best to just blow it out with compressed air, add a sprinkle of WD-40 or your favorite lubricant, turn it a couple of times, and it works like new. Note this is all done without opening the unit and you can get the necessary supplies at the hardware store for less than 10 bucks, and the fix can be done in less than a minute even by non-technically inclined personnel.
The other minor complaint I have is that the USB cable connector to the player is non-standard. You'll have to use the one that comes included in the package, if you lose it you'll have to buy another one just like it. I wish they had the standard USB connector on the player that is common to cell phones, some other mp3/4 players, photo cameras etc.
Overall I am very happy with the Sansa Fuze and think it is a great alternative to the most popular competitor products. In several respects it is superior to the iPod in my opinion, and costs much less. I recently purchased another one for my wife, and she is impressed with it, too. It is so intutive I didn't even have to explain it to her let alone reading the manual.
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Amount Paid (US$): 69
Recommended for: Athletes - Lightweight and Portable, Perfect for the Gym