First impressions...

First off the product concept of a thumb drive sized mp3 player with an FM tuner and 1G of internal memory for under $40 US was the hook that caught me and I just had to buy it. It is a very nice looking package but there were a few “little” things that caught my attention.(I’m using an AMD based HP desktop computer with windows XP - all OS updates installed)

  1. The USB cap is difficult to remove. The lanyard strap eye is also located on the cap so if the cap becomes separated from the player, you only get to keep the cap! Bye-bye player!

  2. The player comes with a translucent window cover that should be removed or you will not see the display graphics and will falsely think the unit is defective. At least that’s what I thought and removing it was not obvious.

  3. Updating the firmware was a series of false starts, freezes, file corruptions, and general operator panic and frustration. Beware of updating the firmware… proceed at your own risk! At best it was a cluster of shots in the dark. Somehow and someway it updated to version 01.01.12A2 and repeating the update program declared no further updates were available.

  4. Using Windows Media Player to sync up music was a messy process - music, pictures, and files - a jumble of things on my hard drive wound up on the external (Transcend) microSD 2G chip. To get the player to even function, I had to remove the external memory chip, format it and then reinstall it and re-sync it again.

  5. The controls are difficult to actuate, using a fingernail works best. The volume + / - control has a mind of its own… going full blast or all the way muted with the single momentary press of the + or - volume buttons. There is some sort of hardware defect or software bug there.

  6. Even the addition of external memory is fraught with peril. Is there a 2G, 4G, or even 8G limit? Where is the documentation stating this simple spec? Is the player sensitive to only work with SanDisk MicroSD chips or are there various manufacturer compatibility issues?

  7. Although the FM reception is less sensitive than I would have expected, having 20 preset stations capacity is a nice additional feature and well appreciated.

Overall, from a user’s point of view I would give this unit a rating of only 3 out of 10. I had hoped to recommend this MP3 player to friends and family - even given a few as gifts, but will certainly not now.

There is a lot of room for improvement regarding this MP3 player and the most critical area of concern is the firmware upgrade process or lack there of. Updating the firmware appears to be an easy way to turn this player into a brick. Even after updating the firmware, bugs continue to surprise and baffle this hapless user. It is a shame that such a nifty looking product with such nice features could be such a bangle of worms.

Since the Sansa Express product is discontinued, I suspect that your comments are not going to stimulate changes.

Issues like the 1000 song limit haunt this player, and are addressed here.  

But tradeoffs like small controls and a mirrored surface, well, just part of the design choices someone had to make, eh?  Personally, I like them, but then again, I like the chewing gum pack style player.

Too bad to hear that it is a discontinued product since I think the simply packaging is pretty catchy. The cableless, standard USB connector is an efficient interface and the built-in FM tuner and voice recorder function is another bonus in such a small package. The 1,000 song limitation was the demise of this product? I doubt that. I suspect it was the poor quality control and poorly compiled software that really caused its demise. As an engineer and designer, I think it still has loads of potential as an ultra portable media player concept. Maybe some other companies or group of entrepreneurs will carry the design forward.

I agree with you that the Express is a flawed product. I’d forgive all the quirks and frustrations if only the sound quality was better.

I have several other Sansa’s. M250, C240, E260 and the Clip and they are all much better products than the Express.  SanDisk just cut too many corners on the Express.