technical spec requirements for AC charger to use with Sansa Clip

Like many others on this forum, I’m disappointed that the Clip doesn’t ship with an AC wall charger (and think that as a cost-cutting measure it would be much better to omit crappy earbuds -which many people will replace anyway - than to omit an AC charger from the package). But as things stand, I’m looking for an AC charger for my 4gb clip, and I think it’s worth having a general thread about technical spec requirements for an AC charger for use with the Clip.

I have found Sansa’s customer support entirely unhelpful on this count - they either know nothing of general requirements or won’t say, which may be due to liability reasons, as they don’t want to be responsible for players that die from charging the wrong way, and don’t want to have to police or test all available chargers. 

Some baseline info, some of which I know from experience, some that I’m assuming and other that I’ve learned from various threads on this fourm:

  • The memory capacity of the Clip has nothing to do with its charging - requirements are the same for 1g, 2g and 4g models of the Clip
  • When charging with a “smart”  USB cord attached to a computer, the Clip is in “communication” mode with the computer and cannot be used to play music
  • When charging with a dedicated AC charger (“dumb” USB with no capacity for data transfer) the Clip functions normally - this means that:
    • the Clip can play music while charging with an AC charger
    • despite charging, the Clip will shut off automatically after 1 or 5 minutes of non-use (or whatever it’s set for) - so to charge using an AC charger, the Clip must be set to NOT power down automatically - this is true in some people’s experience and not in others - check this thread
  • AC chargers may vary in output voltage, but the player determines how much voltage it draws from the charger, or at least such was stated in this thread

On my end, I have a Motorola AC charger that came with my cellphone (which has a standard USB interface, same as the clip) with an output of 5V and 550mA. I haven’t yet used it with my Sansa Clip - while I assume that it will safely work, I want to play it safe and learn more about the general requirements of AC chargers for use with the Clip. I also have a car-charger (plugs into cigarette lighter) for use with my phone, but can’t find technical specs on it.

Timcupery, I agree with much of what you say.  Especially that I wish that USB electronics that can operate via AC power came with AC USB power supplies.  I also wish that for the benefit of its customers, SanDisk would list verified, “trustworthy” AC USB chargers, to avoid customer concern about blowing the Clip out, whether due to compatibility issues or manufacturing/quality control questionability.

Having said that, the Macally USB AC charger discussed in other threads, “certified” for use with other Sansa players, works fine with the Clip as well (in my personal experience) and comes from a reliable manufacturer.  (Unfortunately, it also is one of the more expensive chargers, at $20–down to $10 at Buy.com if you purchase via a new Google.com customer account).

Also, I have not had to change my Clip’s set “power down” setting when using the charger–the screen goes off when charging via AC but the player stays on and charging continues (without being in play mode).

Finally, assuming that your Motorola charger is not dodgy, it should be fine to charge your Clip.  For whatever it’s worth, both my Mio GPS charger and cigarette lighter adapter also work with my Clip without issue.

Thanks for the info. 

Do you know the technical specifications on either your GPS charger or car adapter?

And/or, is it your understanding that most USB chargers (AC or car adapters) will work fine with the Clip? 

@timcupery wrote:

Thanks for the info. 

Do you know the technical specifications on either your GPS charger or car adapter?

And/or, is it your understanding that most USB chargers (AC or car adapters) will work fine with the Clip? 

Based on my tests, any 5VDC charger rated at 200 ma current or more should be more than enough.  You’re unlikely to find one that puny.  Most will be at least 500 ma.  But it should be 5V, not more or less.  The Clip will draw *current* as needed, so the charger can’t have too much, but the voltage needs to be 5V.  Any charger with a USB socket will be 5V.  So really, pretty much anything should work.

However, as I reported in the other thread, a charger will work best (charge most rapidly) if it complies with the new March, 2007, standard for USB charging.  The newer the charger, the more likely it is to be compliant.

I’m the one that reported the auto-power and/or sleep settings turned off the charging.  This was based on a sharp reduction in the current the Clip drew at exactly 15 minutes, which was what my time settings were.  Obviously I need to go back and do that again more carefully and see precisely what happens.  It may have been just the sleep setting, which would not normally be a factor.

@peabody wrote:

Based on my tests, any 5VDC charger rated at 200 ma current or more should be more than enough.  You’re unlikely to find one that puny.  Most will be at least 500 ma.  But it should be 5V, not more or less.  The Clip will draw *current* as needed, so the charger can’t have too much, but the voltage needs to be 5V.  Any charger with a USB socket will be 5V.  So really, pretty much anything should work.

 

However, as I reported . . .(continued)

 

I’ve wondered about these (as I’m sure many here have. . .sorry if these have already been discussed)  Amazon is full of USB charger for around $1.50.  Of course they don’t list the output specs:

http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Ipod-Nano-Shuffle-Photo/dp/B000A3E9Z4/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205626425&sr=1-24 

and: 

http://www.amazon.com/Eforcity-Tungsten-Handspring-UTStarcom-Blackberry/dp/B000FAVYHS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205626425&sr=1-2 

or:

http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Power-Charger-Adapter-Shuffle/dp/B000A2BLEC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205626425&sr=1-1

@timcupery wrote:

Thanks for the info. 

Do you know the technical specifications on either your GPS charger or car adapter?

And/or, is it your understanding that most USB chargers (AC or car adapters) will work fine with the Clip? 

The Mio GPS charger is 5V/1A.  (It really is a sweet charger, and was thrown in free with the GPS!)

And yes, that’s my impression as to other chargers/adapters, as long as they are 5V and have a decent amperage.  A nice part of USB usage is that it’s establishing a standard as to this.

Having said that, and in response to RideBikes’ post above, I think that many chargers will be fine, but there could be an issue of QC with some; recommendations are a good thing (especially when the charger could blow a player out).  I picked up a branded and seemingly fine travel charger at a local electronics store at a sale, and it emitted an irritating hum (although charged just fine).  I returned it and was glad that it wasn’t a mail-order purchase, requiring hassle and cost to return.  I ultimately picked up the Macally charger because I had a level of comfort with the company, had read positive reviews, and was able to purchase it through a fair retailer (and got $10 off the price via Google, making the price acceptable to me); I also wanted something with foldable prongs (easier for travel) and black (I have issues with white DAPs and equipment …).

(On a personal note, I had an issue with eForcity (one of the sellers shown above) in the past, when the product I purchased (a USB cable) didn’t work as represented (i.e. at USB 2.0 speed) and the company would not give a refund, only a store credit …) 

Message Edited by Miikerman on 03-15-2008 06:05 PM

Yes, I’m leary of the QC of $1.50 units I posted links to above, but poking around the net I just ran across these. . .listed specs:

  •  AC/USB Adapter
  • Compact design
  • Input: 110 - 240 VAC ~ 50/60HZ (compatible for international travel)
  • Max Output: 5 VDC,  300 mA
  • LED indicator

http://www.emtcompany.com/products/adapters/usbac-ac-to-usb-power-adapter.htm 

If you scroll down on the page they also offer a 5 VDC  500 mA for $2 more (again, free ground ship) 

What say the Professors of all things Sansa?  . . .I know the old adage about getting what you pay for but 20 bucks for the Mcally as I’m about to order a $50 player?  Ouch!

Yeah, I agree with all you note.  $20 is too much–if you don’t mind doing it, you get $10 off if you open a new Google Checkout account and then purchase from Buy.com.  That seems like a possible compromise between security and cost.

My hunch is that most chargers are just fine.  But some of the reviews at Amazon note some mixed success with the generics, and my own experience at my local store with even a branded charger (although a basic China-manufactured charger–like them all!) makes me a bit cautious.  (That’s why I tried to buy local.)  I’d be hesitant without a recommendation (and had seen the chargers you noted).

@ridebikes wrote:

I’ve wondered about these (as I’m sure many here have. . .sorry if these have already been discussed)  Amazon is full of USB charger for around $1.50.  Of course they don’t list the output specs:

http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Ipod-Nano-Shuffle-Photo/dp/B000A3E9Z4/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205626425&sr=1-24 

and: 

http://www.amazon.com/Eforcity-Tungsten-Handspring-UTStarcom-Blackberry/dp/B000FAVYHS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205626425&sr=1-2 

or:

http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Power-Charger-Adapter-Shuffle/dp/B000A2BLEC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1205626425&sr=1-1

I would be leary of the ones claiming to be specifically for ipods, especially ones that say things like:

“Intelligent IC chip inside recognizes a fully charged battery and automatically switches to a saver mode to prevent overcharging and short circuit.”

That may be necessary for ipods, but it doesn’t sound like what you want for the Clip.  The Clip does its own battery charging.  All the charger needs to do is provide a 5V supply at 200 ma or more.   An “intelligent IC chip” isn’t a good thing as far as I’m concerned.  You want the charger to be totally dumb, and not try to “connect” with the Clip in the USB sense.

But I also have to say that I have zero experience with Apple products, and don’t know how they charge up or what special requirements they have.  It just seems to me that you want one that works for the widest possible range of USB devices.

@ridebikes wrote:

Yeah, I agree with all you note.  $20 is too much–if you don’t mind doing it, you get $10 off if you open a new Google Checkout account and then purchase from Buy.com.  That seems like a possible compromise between security and cost.

I thought I was pretty net-savy.  But I can’t seem to find that deal offered on Google Checkout or Buy.com. (? ? ?)  Where’s the $10 offer?

I also spent some time on MacAlly’s site & see they have one model for IPOD and a different model for Sansa (SN-A411.)  Frustrating though because while MacAlly lists specs they specifically do not list output (voltage or mA)

Message Edited by RideBikes on 03-15-2008 07:06 PM

 

"I have found Sansa’s customer support entirely unhelpful on this count - they either know nothing of general requirements or won’t say, which may be due to liability reasons, as they don’t want to be responsible for players that die from charging the wrong way, and don’t want to have to police or test all available chargers. "

 

All: Sorry- from a consumer’s perspective, I find the need to have this technical discussion ridiculous. Why does Sansa even make this discussion necessary for us to engineer our own accessories? Too difficult for them to test, offer, or at least endorse/certify one A/C charger? Or at least tell us customers the A/C specs required? Do other companies not have the same liability exposure, etc. as does Sansa, yet they seem to find a way to offer a robust accessory line (or at least partner with those who do)?

 

Has anybody ever seen any accessories offered by Appl* for their products? Ca-Ching!$$$

 

I’m a geek in my professional career, but, sorry Sansa- I should not have to be a geek in my leisure time to figure out your products for my leisure use.

 

I don’t get Sansa’s corporate behavior. They could have the greatest, coolest, sexiest MP3 players in the world, but if they ignore the other factors required to come close to even a mild challenge to Appl*'s market dominance, they’ve got a loong way to go on the other fundamentals (e.g, customer service, marketing, product pre-market testing, etc.).

 

Even though I own many Appl* products, I want to give the Clip a fair chance, but so far, I’m very underwhelmed with my underwhelming first Sansa experience as a whole (my first Sansa product is now an MP3 player that I cannot operate without major handicaps when used outdoors and Sansa says- too bad “you opened the package, sucker. You’re stuck!” Too bad, 'cause the clip has some very competitive features. My ONLY reason for even trying the Sansa is because of the Rhapsody integration and Rhapsody’s incompatibility with the 900 pound gorilla in the market.

 

Now, does anybody know anywhere I might be able to buy an A/C adapter for my iP*d?  Maybe Appl* won’t tell me what charger it requires! (" Shh, don’t tell the customer what works with our products. Let’s make them guess!!!" )

 

Signed,

Peeved in Peoria

 

 

Message Edited by calkid on 03-15-2008 07:47 PM

@ridebikes wrote:

I thought I was pretty net-savy.  But I can’t seem to find that deal offered on Google Checkout or Buy.com. (? ? ?)  Where’s the $10 offer?

I also spent some time on MacAlly’s site & see they have one model for IPOD and a different model for Sansa (SN-A411.)  Frustrating though because while MacAlly lists specs they specifically do not list output (voltage or mA)

Yep, isn’t it amazing how hard these companies make it for you to buy from them?   :wink:

You want the SN-A411.  It comes in attractive packaging which likewise gives no specs …  But the charger itself notes that it is 5V output (nothing said about amperage (now, that’s frustrating, and I can’t find information on that), but it works fine for me).

There should be information on Google Checkout at Buy.com on the item page, below the Buy.com price info., which tells you who qualifies and how to set up the Google account.  I hope this helps!

@ calkid: I agree that it’s pretty poor (and bafflingly strange) corporate behavior on Sansa’s part. Seems like penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior. The documentation that comes with the Clip is incredibly simple/poor as well.

Well, Sandisk does offer chargers.  Kinda.  There’s a link on the Sandisk site for this one:

http://www.dlo.com/Products/powerpack_Sansa_Prod.tpl?command=showpage&cart=11928212981367147

It doesn’t specifically say it’s for the Clip, but it does mention similar items, including the View.  So it probably would work fine.  I don’t know who dlo.com is.

Of course, it’s $40.  That’s more than I paid for my 1GB Clip.  :-)  But it looks like you get both the AC and the car chargers.

If you find the Clip page on the Sandisk.com site, and pull down Accessories, there are a couple others listed.  But again, I suspect price would be an issue.

@peabody wrote:

Well, Sandisk does offer chargers.  Kinda.  There’s a link on the Sandisk site for this one:

 

http://www.dlo.com/Products/powerpack_Sansa_Prod.tpl?command=showpage&cart=11928212981367147

 

It doesn’t specifically say it’s for the Clip, but it does mention similar items, including the View.  So it probably would work fine. 

 

Peabody: Thanks for the suggestion for the 200 series chargers. My contention is- why can’t Sansa simply tell we consumers what chargers are compatible with the Clip? How long has the Clip line been on the market now? I agree with you, it “probably will work” but why should we even have to guess? I also agree that the charger referenced is overpriced. And Why should I have to also buy a car charger with it that I don’t need?

My experience in searching for an A/C wall charger known to be compatible with the Clip has been as frustrating as others on this forum have communicated. And I also have found Sansa support unable or unwilling to answer the question, for unknown reasons.

You know, that’s just the way it is with Sandisk Sansa’s–everything is done to 65%, instead of 100%  The player models are decent, but there’s always some nagging thing they never get around to addressing.  The customer support takes 24-48hrs to reply to a ticket and never deviates from a lame script asking you to update firmware, format the player, etc., even when the question you ask would absolutely not be fixed by a format, might take a 30 sec google search, whatever.  Getting your RMA’d player back from Sandisk takes many, many weeks.

Why can’t they provide a simple list of AC chargers that work?  Dunno, why *can’t* they?  You are absolutely right, there isn’t any real excuse for it.  It would take 5 mins to add some info to the website that says something like “a 5V, 800mA USB ac adapter can be used to recharge.”  Why did they ship a 4GB clip with a screen that you can’t read in the sunlight?  Dunno, why didn’t one of the designers take the prototype with them over lunch or home one evening and go out for a walk, get a coffee, whatever.  It’s not even hard to notice the screen sucks, anyone could see it if they just took the 30 extra seconds to mess around with it.

That’s the deal with Sandisk.  They just don’t go the extra mile and it shows in every step of the operation.

I got sick of it and bought a different brand player.  My sansa is up for sale on craigslist.  Hope the next owner has a better experience with it than I did.

I emailed Sandisk to ask about this.  They said “we don’t supply chargers for the Clip” (no kidding!) but recommended these:

http://www.gomadic.com/sandisk-sansa-clip-rapid-wall-ac-charger.html

http://www.daydeal.com/product.php?productid=10893&cat=3110

http://www.amazon.com/Sandisk-Sansa-Premium-Silicone-Cover/dp/B00104HBB6 (cover bundled with charger)

Unfortunately, in their reply they also said “please do confirm compatibility and that your specifications are met with each device” (sigh), so who knows whether the second charger will actually work.

Message Edited by PromisedPlanet on 03-19-2008 08:55 AM

Humorous that they said nothing about the Macally charger, which is “certified” for use with other Sansa players.  :wink:

The Sandisk representative’s reply also said something slightly snarky-sounding about finding chargers by doing a Google search, so most like that’s what he did.  :wink:

Hey, its only electronics; what’s a few extra volts here or there?