Clip+ Review By Non-Techie, For Non-Techies

The purpose of this post is to give a neutral review of the Clip+. The problem is that there are two sides, those who love it and those who hate it so maybe I can bring something new to the table …

Most people think that we love the clip+ because it’s cheap and it can do a lot of things - like an Acer of Mp3 players. I am using it for Audiobooks and a lot of DRMed content so the audio collection on it it’s worth more than the MP3 player itself. Plus, I’ve used an iPod Touch, shuffle and even a mini so I know what both a low end and a high end device can deliver.

So here goes …

SanDisk Sanza Clip+ is not a perfect device. It has a lot of rough corners. The battery drops from 50% to 0% in about 30 minutes (it’s not technical, simply a bug in reporting the battery status), the sound volume is low and weird even after the “European Limitation” fix, it takes forever to refresh the files from an SD list and so on. There are a lot of faults with this player, just as there are with iPods, Zune and Sony Walkman. 

On the other hand, what it does it does great. The sync with Audible is amazingly effective (even if Audible deleted my files once and once you format it, it’s a hassle to authorize it once again). If you are listening to audiobooks for business or personal reasons, this is going to be your best friend. 

The audio quality depends of course on the headsets you use. I’ve had some problems recently with a pair of medium-high end headsets (around $70 which qualifies as quality) which worked awesome on many device and failed on the Clip+. 

The problem, as far as I see it is that the Clip+ can not provide the same power as a laptop or an mp3 player so it may be a little difficult to power a pair of headsets not optimized for MP3 players. So stick with headsets made for MP3 players and in-hear pieces and you’ll be ok. 

As far as the audio quality itself, it’s actually very good. In a head to head comparasion with an iPod for example, you may be biased to score the iPod better but in reality, it’s about the same. There are a few devices on the market with better hardware inside and better quality but I think it’s better than most $0 - $250 consumer products out there. I’m not an expert so this is just an educated guess.

The headsets found in the pack are decent. They tend to deteriorate rather fast but they are better than the iPod headsets. What’s funny is that the Apple type of headsets costs about the entire price of the SanDisk Sanza itself. They don’t look as good (functional but not a fashion item) but they are good enough.

The navigation is good but not amazing. There are some weird navigation issues, especially when you want to do something a little more advanced than changing the song. There is no real back button, only back to menu and if you tend to change songs a lot based on manual input, it may come as tiresome.

It comes with an interesting feature called Go Playlist. Until the most recent update, this feature was bugged for me and playlists were not saved. Now it works just fine. I’m not a big fan of it as it’s 10 times faster to create a playlist directly on my computer but it works.

It also comes with a voice recorder. To be honest, I don’t see the purpose of such a function here. It may work (I haven’t tried it, I’m using a dedicated, professional level Sony voice recorder) but they could have saved costs by eliminating it.

The clip behind of it it’s solid and I’m almost sure it’s not detachable. I’ve attached the Sansa to jeans, running pants, blazers, coats and everything in between. It keeps it solid and does not detach as easy as the iPod shuffle (this is highly subjective. If you run or if it’s not attached properly, you’ll lose it with ease).

The battery life is decent. I guess it’s around 10 hours. If you don’t play around the menu, it may go even a little longer. The battery drainer here is operating the menu and not the audio output. I charge it about two - three days and I’m satisfied with it. I find audiobooks to drain battery faster than mp3s or Flacs but that again may be subjective.

I guess that’s all you need to know about it. It’s an worthy mp3 player. It’s not a tool for those without enough money for an iPod. I have several tools I could use to listen to music / audiobooks and next to my phone, this is the second thing I never leave my house without. The update software is not perfect (9 / 10 I’m getting runtime errors on Windows 7) … It takes ages (30 - 60 seconds) to load about 3 - 4 GB from a SD Card (I can’t image how long it takes from a 64GB card) and even if I’m not sure, it may not work 100% properly with many “bigger” type of headsets. 

But guess what?

It doesn’t really matter. This small player is amazing. Is amazing both as a gym player, as a music player or as an educational tool. It’s simple to use (anyone who hates iTunes will love the drag and drop capabilities for anything Non-drm) … it’s reliable (I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s water resistent, at least to some point. I’ve used it at the gym and I’ve used it during heavy rain) … and it’s cheap. 

But even if it was about twice the price, I would still buy it. I wouldn’t compare it to an iPod touch for example, but I find it better than the shuffle and older generation nanos. The problem if I may call it this way is that most of the people who’ve bought the Sansa are audio enthusiasts and experts. They are like the people who bought the Raspberry Pi. This is exactly the market for which the Clip+ should NOT be targeted.

This may be the simplest and most reliable player in the world. It does less than everyone else but it does the right things. This should be the player you take to the gym or you give your child at school, and not a tool for rockboxing and tweaking. Therefore, I’d love if more people would buy this small piece of tech.

It may seem popular, but compared to Apple and Sony, it isn’t. Even when I bought it, there were 10 in stock and I was the first one to buy it while there were only two shuffle remaining.

You’ve missed the only relevant observation about the clip+, namely the FM reception drifts. This didn’t happen on the original clip and supposedly doesn’t occur on the zip (I don’t own one so can’t judge).

FM drift seems very variable–I haven’t had this issue at all on my Clip+.

Ther are a couple different FM tuner chips used in the Clip+, depending on when it was manufactured. Some work fine; others don’t. And unfortunately, there’s no way to tell which chip one has before buying it; it only way to determine it is by opening up the case and examining the chip.

Why I had posted my “all is fine with fm and my player” comment, noting that the issue is variable.

It’s too bad that I didn’t see this review before buying my Clip+. If I had, I would have just replaced the iPod that finally quit on me. Much more expensive, to be sure, but it’s something that I have never found any fault with.

I’ve  had my clip+ for about three years and  have no trouble with the FM., works great! and the voice record mode is useful when your out and about for making notes.

Pretty fair review.  A couple of notes,

  1. DRM files seem to use more battery life, than other formats. files are an example.  I’m still getting about 15 hours of life as someone who just turns it on and not mess around with the menus too much.  It is true the battery indicator is misleading but that’s a common fault of many devices, including my car’s gas gauge.

  2. As a Linux user the Clip+ is very easy to manage, where ipods are not.  Heck I know Windows users who have a hard time with them and the Itunes software.