Print 7 comment(s) - last by michael2k.. on Jan 9 at 12:10 PM

The current market for MP3 players is very competitive, and SanDisk is trying to get a piece of it

SanDisk is a company known for releasing products like SD, CF cards and USB flash drives.  At CES, the company re-integrated its plan to shake up the flash-based MP3 player market  in 2006.  The company announced two different lines of flash-based MP3 players designed directly for PC enthusiasts.  In March, SanDisk will begin selling MP3 players from the Sansa c100 Series and Sansa e200 Series.  

The SanDisk Sansa c100 Series MP3 players will come in two different sizes: 1GB and 2GB.  Other features include a digital FM tuner with 20 preset stations, voice recording and photo thumbnail playback.  A 1.2" color screen allows users to view thumbnail-size images or a music slideshow.  The Sansa c140 (1GB) will cost $119.99 and the Sansa c150 (2GB) will cost $169.99.  

The MP3 players in the SanDisk Sansa e200 Series MP3 line are the more impressive MP3 players that SanDisk announced.  The players will have a 1.8" TFT color screen with a scratch-resistant body that is a little bit thicker than the iPod Nano.  The models in the e200 series come in three different capacities: 2GB, 4GB and 6GB.  The new MP3 players will also have a microSD expansion slot for additional memory capacity. Users will also be able to view photos and slideshows while the MP3 player is still playing music. The Sansa e250 (2GB) will cost $199, the Sansa e260 (4GB) will cost $249, and the Sansa e270 (6GB) model will cost consumers $299.  

MP3 players from both series do share some basic similarities.  Both lines make use of the Microsoft PlaysForSure service.  What PlayForSure does is it allows users to easily find an online music subscription service and ensures that the audio format will be compatible with their portable media device.

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By nomagic on 1/7/2006 11:55:43 AM , Rating: 2
The players will have a 1.8" TFT color screen with a scratch-resistant body that is a little bit thicker than the iPod Nano.

Finally, a real alternative to iPod Nano, a thin mp3 player with scratch resistent surface. I am not saying other mp3 players currently on the market are inferior. It's a matter of personal taste.

Not impressive
By michael2k on 1/7/2006 6:33:18 PM , Rating: 1
But still a good start. Being able to match Apple in price and design is a good way to force competition.

Of course the problem occurs when Apple drops the price of the Nano to the point where no one except people looking for wma support would buy a Sansa;
iPod 2gb: $199
Sansa 2gb: $199
iPod 4gb: $249
Sansa 4gb: $249

Besides which, Apple is still nearly half as thick: 0.27in vs 0.5in!

I'm willing to bet that on Monday we will see three things to "counter" this threat:
Cheaper nanos, the introduction of higher capacities, such as 4gb for $229 and 8gb for $299, and the ability to play back movies from the iTMS. I mean, it's a logical extension given current technology.

RE: Not impressive
By DragnFist on 1/8/2006 2:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the only people who would want to buy this player would be looking for compatibility with subscription services, a battery that can be removed and easily replaced, an expansion slot to bump up the storage in future, FM tuner, recording capability and starting off with an extra 2 gig of flash memory more than the top-end Nano...oh, and all in a case that doesn't scratch to heck. Really no reason to buy this over the Nano if you don't want any of those things. ;-) I happen to, so this looks like an awesome new choice for me...looks like a winner to me!

RE: Not impressive
By michael2k on 1/9/2006 12:10:26 PM , Rating: 2
If we use the existing market as a predictor for the market in which Sansa lives, we already see that 70% or so don't care enough about user accessible batteries, memory card support, or FM tuner.

The market that Apple has and is targetting, and that concievably everyone else wants, is the market that loves the iPod; the Sansa is a powerful system in that it targets the same market, but adds a few touches here and there to polish the system.

There's nothing saying that Apple can't or won't match or beat Sansa's price or capacity; there's every indication that Apple will continue to add features, as they have consistently done so these past four years. It may be that Apple will wait a quarter and see how the Sansa does before adding new features, but at the least Apple can do three things to make the Nano even more attractive to consumers than it already is.
Double storage capacity
Add video support
Lower the price

RE: Not impressive
By mindless1 on 1/8/2006 5:24:47 PM , Rating: 2
I already prefer the older, current gen Sansas over the Nano, these are easily better IMO.

I just got a Sansa
By huges84 on 1/8/2006 3:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
At Best Buy there was an after-Christmas sale on the 2GB m250. It was $129, the same price as the 1 gig version. The m250 is similar to the bottom player in that picture, except it has a b&w screen. My girlfriend bought it for me for my birthday and I really like it.

From using it for a little over a week and I must say that this thing is well done. You don't need any software to use it. It shows up just like a thumbdrive and you just add files to the drive. The player will recognivze al the tags. It plays WMAs (yuck) and MP3s (even variable bitrate and high bitrate). You can also make playlists right on the device or put them on the drive. It has an FM tuner, voice recorder, equalizer, and has great battery life. It runs off of 1 AAA battery. It came with a cheap one and the battery is still half full after what I estimate to be around 12 hours I have used it so far. The only feature I wish it had was the ability to record from the radio. But that is something almost no player offers, so its no big deal.

So the whole point of this post is that from what I have seen, SanDisk is pretty serious about their players. I am impressed that I haven't been able to find even one nit-picky detail that they got wrong. If you are in the market for a player, I would consider them.

Cost of color?
By mindless1 on 1/8/2006 5:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
One thing I'm not really hyped about is the cost for color displays. I can't think of once I looked at my player and thought "if only this were in color". I don't need to see a few pixels worth of album art or a postage stamp sized picture of anything.

The things that seem most useful are to stuff more memory in, make it in a case shape that accomodates a AA, not AAA battery so the runtime is tripled off easily sourced cells, and give customers a CHOICE on how to configure the firmware. I think a player where you had a PC based customization app for the player firmware interface would be very very hot.

Oh and of course OGG support. If there's a firmware size limit, let the PC customization utility manage plugins for the codecs the user wants. I suppose that means more limited hardware decoding but for a lot of people it's not about the frivous features, rather about a lot of good sounding music. Give it enough of a boost circuit that it can drive high-z cans too, I'm not nearly as interested in someone else's idea of how to preserve my hearing by limiting volume (gain) as having it flexible enough that it works with the rest of my gear.

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