Thursday, April 19, 2007

Review : Sandisk Sansa e140 1Gig MP3 Player

I grabbed one of these off of Woot! the other day, thinking that I could finally set up an MP3 player for my wife.  The only time she gets to listen to music is in the car, carting around the kids, and it's always a battle when it is whose turn to listen to what music.  Mommy very rarely gets a turn.  So I thought if I could find a simple MP3 player with good capacity and an FM tuner I could dump all of their music together onto the thing, set it on shuffle, and then there'd always be a channel playing where they could just be happy with whatever song came next.

I've had this thing 5 minutes and I can see that it will just barely fit my requirements.  Sure, it's got an SD expansion slot.  But it has no playlist management (so I can't do a "Mommy" list and an "Everything" list for those times when she's not with the kids and would like to listen to just her own stuff).   Big strike, right there.  I might be able to cobble something together by butchering the Album and Genre tags, since it can browse those oddly enough, to do a sort of simulated playlist management at least. 

At first I thought there was no random shuffle option, but I found it.  I can't tell if it just mindlessly shuffles through all music on the disk or if it's smart enough that I'm in a certain genre to do just that genre.  We shall see.

By far the worst feature of this player is the scroll wheel, situated in the upper right corner of the device.  Which finger am I supposed to use with THAT?  It pretty much mandates two handed operation, which if you're used to an ipod is just insane.  If this is supposed to be a device that my wife leaves in the car, I can't see her mucking with that control and driving at the same time.  Unlike an ipod scroll/click wheel, which I do all the time.  Even if you assume two handed operation (it already fits in the palm of one hand, it's not like the thing is Treo sized where you can hold it in one and interact with the other), you'll still find yourself hard pressed to spin the little plastic knob just right without accidentally clicking a button in the process.  The menu button is situated on the right hand side of the player right under the knob in another spot that makes you say "How am I supposed to hit that?"

Other features?  It's incredibly light, I'll give it that.  So light that the word "cheap" crosses your mind, like you'll break it.  It's got an FM receiver built in, but does anybody use those things anymore?

In general, it ain't great for what I wanted it for.  I think I'd hate it if this was my daily player.  But perhaps if I can stick with my original plan to load it to the hilt with all the music I can get my hands on, and muck with the ID3 tags enough that she can have some semblance of management of the thing, it might be fine to leave in the car attached to an FM transmitter and work like a mini jukebox.  If she likes it and wants something she can take with her on walks or to the gym, I'm getting her a Nano.


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Mike said...

By far the worst feature of this player is the scroll wheel, situated in the upper right corner of the device. Which finger am I supposed to use with THAT?

Don't you have a thumb? :)

I'll grant you that there's a lot wrong with this player -- I also Wooted it recently and found your site on a search in an attempt to see if I could get some sort of playlist control -- but I've found that I've been able to control it with only my left hand no problem. I find the iPod just as difficult to control while driving, and though I still vastly prefer the iPod's interface, you get what you pay for.

That said -- I also can't believe you left out the useful "stopwatch" feature from your review. Just kidding....

Duane said...

Good lord man what side of your hand is your thumb on? You said you can control it with your left hand no problem, but that scroll wheel is way over in the upper *right* corner!

Anonymous said...

Scroll wheel? Mine has a volume wheel in the upper right corner, and no scroll wheel at all. Unless it has some magical function I haven't found yet?

Anonymous said...

It's me again. I played with it, and whaddaya know, that terrible volume control (I have trouble getting it to go, then suddenly it moves three clicks - ouch) is also a terrible scroll wheel. I've been using the four directional buttons on the front of the device to navigate the menus, and I think I'll stick to that.

Thanks, you taught me something!