Sandisk Fuze 8GB MP3 player - Mini Review
By way of background/perspective, I'm a recovering iPod fan. It all started with a Gen 1 shuffle to test the water and see how iTunes ran. The little shuffle was cool for a while, but gee it's nice to see what tracks are on-board. I justified a 60GB iPod Video while planning a trip to Ireland and dreading the air time. That was a bit under three years ago, fast-forward to now and the big iPod ate its hard drive and puked out the battery. It led a rough life of being used like an iPod should, living in a hot car and bumping around. I decided to see how I'd like using a player on the bike and dug out the shuffle. That worked well until it quit on the return loop of a 70mi out and back to a dealer. Not good.
A buddy recommended the new Fuze players as an iPod alternative so I buzzed down to the local big box store to have a look. I was pretty much set on getting a current Nano, but went in open-minded. Nanos look good, and do everything I'm used to and I could well have stopped looking on that side of the display. The backside had the 'second-tier' players including the Sandisks. The big selling point for the Fuze, beyond being cheaper for equal size, is that it has a MicroSD slot. That's pretty cool and not something you find in iPod land. It's also a nice feature to have when the player is flash based and storage restricted compared to a hard drive player. MicroSD cards are getting cheaper and with the Fuze you can add an 8GB card for...$30ish nowadays? Additionally the Fuze has a built-in FM tuner! I'm not a huge radio listener but what's wrong with getting FM for checking the "news and traffic on the 8's" or your morning radio show habit on the ride in to the job?
Size wise the player is longer vs the wider Nano form factor. The wheel on the Fuze actually rotates and the headphone jack is on the bottom edge. The player also has a mic and recording ability, I haven't messed with that yet but maybe it would be useful for riders that dictate road notes to themselves for reports? I'll probably get some sort of screen protector for the player, I've read that PSP protectors can be trimmed to fit but I haven't gone shopping yet. I've been carrying the player in the inside chest pocket on my Rev'it Air for riding. I use Shure E2c headphones with my setup.
If there's a caveat to the Fuze I'd say the file transfer process would be it. I've been spoiled by iTunes' drag and drop ease with the iPods. WMP 11 can be used for organization and transfer, but I don't plan to 'upgrade' to the current WMP. I transfered my MP3's over with straight file drops which gets slow when 7.5GB are being moved. On the upside the files are DRM free and I have full portability of them, something my iPods never allowed.
If you're in the market for a knock-around flash player give the Fuze a look, I paid ~$130 OTD for mine.
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