Okay, sports fans! Time to consolidate those thoughts and findings into something workable.
The new Clip Zip adds some very nice features to the Clip family. Based upon the Clip Plus, we now have a new color display and redesigned user interface, in addition to a handy micro SD port.
Having used the Clip for several years, it’s hard to find anything that comes close in terms of sound quality, ease of use, and size. Now there’s a breath of fresh air with the latest redesign, a cool display to add visual album art to the experience. Rather than simply borrowing from the e200 and Fuze graphic interface, the Clip Zip has a sharp one-inch color display with a new look borrowed from the Fuze+ graphics.
Menus and settings are easy to locate, found in a new arrangement that’s straightforward and easily learned, together with individual color schemes for each mode. I was worried that the device might lag with the new display, but it’s smooth and fast, just like its sister player. The Clip Zip shares the same processor platform as the Plus.
For subscribers to the Rhapsody music service, integration is flawless as with previous Sansas. New for the Clip Zip is a separate main menu location for Rhapsody, a nice touch, compared against the Fuze+ interface. On the Fuze+, the service is “hidden” a bit, located under Music- it’s nice to access the Rhapsody Channels directly from the main menu. Also added to the Channels and individual tracks is the song rating display. I’d like to see this display added to all music tracks (ratings are found via the sub-menu on tracks imported from Windows Media Player).
There are several new surprising additions, like AAC support, allowing users to play DRM-free iTunes music without having to convert to MP3, a welcome feature. Just as with the Clip+, Rhapsody subscription content and Audible books means the little Clip Zip will always remain within arm’s reach, it’s amazing to have so much bundled in a device smaller than a match box.
The new device is just slightly taller and wider than the Clip+, by a few millimeters overall, but it has a completely new look, a cool 50s style retro feel that looks really sharp. The familiar display has essentially doubled in area, with nice legible fonts, a handy clock display like the bigger Sansas, and a new control button that occupies the entire lower face, much easier to control with the fingers than the earlier design.
The face of the Clip Zip, in a nutshell, looks much classier than the earlier spartan, basic Clip face, it’s an interesting blend of “old school” style with a modern device. Locating the controls is very easy, and it’s possible to make adjustments or changes completely by feel. There are several nice refinements, beginning with the top power button, which is larger, centered on the top of the Clip, and an improved volume button rocker, easier to operate than the Plus. The controls have a very solid, smooth feel. I didn’t care for the feel of the earlier volume rocker, it was small, and had a vague feel. The new control is much better. The USB connector has been upgraded from the mini type to the latest micro connector, a solid fitting design.
In addition to a handy user clock, the Clip Zip has a unique stopwatch function, oddly named “sport” in the main menu. After using the stopwatch for a bit, the name fits. Split individual times are displayed in a progressive menu display, quite unique. Times are saved in individual files, making the Clip Zip quite handy for training.
The FM radio has also been upgraded, featuring RDS support , so you can see the name of the station and song titles, when available on the air. It’s great to catch the actual title of some new music, and you can even record a sample for later if desired.
There are some things I would change a little, like the status display, the top yellow line on the Clip / Clip+. The battery icon is a little subtle, I’d make its color a little brighter, something with a little more contrast, and the time display could be in a bolder font. I was worried that things would get a little confusing, and “busy” with a color display, but the Clip Zip is a pleasant surprise. Using it together with its sister player, I warmed up to the new Clip Zip in a hurry. It’s great to see album art on such a compact device.
Speaking of album art, when searching albums, a little thumbnail view would be nice, it’s addictive to have the visual cues when seaarching through your music collection. Speaking of cues, there’s a cool alphabet icon that pops up to help find your music when scanning alphabetically, a really welcome touch. Overall, the Clip Zip is a breath of fresh air for the Clip family of players, one I’m sure you’ll like as much as I do.