Sansa Clip+: The Shuffle Killer

Sometime in 2007 I purchased an MP3 player and started subscribing to Rhapsody’s subscription music service, Rhapsody To Go. The player was a Clix from iRiver and while it’s been fine, I’ve never been thrilled with it. It has a tendency to freeze, it’s clunky and recently its battery life seems to have grown shorter and shorter between recharges. Its most recent woe is a battery life indicator that always cheerfully says “full!” When you’re halfway through a three hour long run and the music dies, that’s a long 90 minutes running with useless earphones in your ears.

It was time to replace the Clix. Naturally, I figured I’d first check out what iRiver was making these days. But unfortunately the iRiver web site has gone from bad to worse. I wonder if they actually want people to buy their products. Since I couldn’t make sense of their product line I next took a look at Sansa’s players, which had always had a reputation for playing nicely with Rhapsody. I settled on the Clip+ player. For $64 I got:

  • 8 gigs of storage (that’s 6 gigs more than the Clix has)
  • Room for up to 32 gigs more thanks to the MicroSD card slot
  • 15 hours of battery life
  • An FM radio with more presets than I’ll ever use
  • A sturdy, built-in clip
  • Excellent sound quality
  • An easy-to-navigate menu system
  • On-the-fly playlist creation and removal of tracks
  • Seamless integration with Rhapsody, including its radio-like, musically themed “channels” (which never worked with the Clix)
  • No software drivers needed; it’s plug and play!

All this in a package that weighs about an ounce and is smaller than a matchbox.

This is not my hand. My fingers are not chubby.

This is not my hand. My fingers are not chubby.

Despite being a Mac user since 1988 (I still remember being awed by the computing power of the Mac Plus), and still using one for my personal machine, I’ve never owned an iPod. Maybe I’m mentally challenged, but I couldn’t figure out the clickwheel the one time I tried to use one. Plus, who wants to pay for every song? For $15 a month I can download and take with me any of around 2,000,000 songs. If I want to buy something, I can download the MP3s, oftentimes for less than what Apple is charging for them on iTunes.

I’d looked at the previous generation of the Clip, but the actual clip looked flimsy, as did the materials overall. But with the “+” edition, Sansa seems to have gotten things right. I wore it on a faster run on the track this morning and, unlike the Clix, which bounced around like a small brick, I often had trouble locating the player on my shorts.

If people are willing to wrest themselves from the Apple hegemony of iTunes, the Clip+ and Rhapsody To Go are an attractive prospect. Observe:

  • The Clip+ is cheaper than the 4GB Shuffle by about $10
  • It has a radio, a voice recorder, twice the storage (and up to 10x the storage if you spring for a MicroSD card)
  • It has a display screen; shouldn’t this be a basic feature?
  • No stupid white headphones

Be a rebel. Dump the iPod.

18 Responses

  1. Good timing. I opened, not three hours ago, a new iPod Nano 5th, 16 gig. I’m not super happy about iPods — one died of what Apple claimed was not-covered water-immersion — although it had never been immersed in anything but my sweat. But I’ve had a 4th gen. for a while and like it. Actually, both of the ones I owned were my wife’s. The first was her’s briefly before I took it and guilt led me to buy her one of her own, which became mine when mine broke.

    So she’s entitled to one. I just got the nano 5th because it has a built-in video camera. I figured I could get a decent video camera and an iPod.

    I had non-Apple MP3 players before getting an iPod, part of being a rebel, but they died too quickly. So I resigned myself to go with the big guy. (Not to worry. I don’t plan on going Nike.)

    Now that I have a nice pouch for the thing that I hook on my shorts (as opposed to putting it into my short’s pocket), it’s been great. And I hate to admit that the iTunes store is great for getting podcasts (I rarely use it to buy music).

    • Video… heard about that… Hopefully you won’t go to a gym or other place that doesn’t allow video or photo recording devices. (although if it’s dark you don’t need to worry. Or if it’s just photo devices).

  2. Funny, I use iTunes for podcasts too since their interface and subscription functionality is so good. I guess I’m a freeloader. Although having spent thousands of dollars on Apple products over the past two decades, I can’t say I feel guilty.

    You hit the button (so to speak) on why people buy the more robust players. The Clip+ does nothing other than play music. No video, no pictures, no nuthin’. I don’t mind that. If anything, the worry I have now is that it’s so tiny that I’m likely to misplace it. Or go blind trying to read the 6 point type in its menus.

  3. If all you care about is the music, and possibly FM radio, Clip is definitely better than the Shuffle. You are right about the old model being flimsy though. I got one for my daughter. It was serviceable for someone prone to not take care of it properly or lose it, but it was quite flimsy, the battery life was bad, and it died earlier than I would have expected. Clip+ seems better.

    Personally I was never an iPod fan because (1) always found them too expensive, and (2) I like having FM radio. My favorite player was the Creative Zen, which is a very solid line, but more like the Nano than the Shuffle. Still going strong 2 years later – I only gave it up because I now have an iPhone through work – otherwise I’d have upgraded to the latest Zen model.

    iRiver was good at one time, I had one before my Zen (I think the T20), but I think those days are gone.

  4. That’s funny. I’m normally very anti-Apple, but recently broke down and bought my first iPod. It’s a shiny silver Nano and I love it. (Although I did immediately get different ear buds so that I wouldn’t look like one of “those iPod people.”) I’ve never run with it though and probably never will. I just can’t imagine being out on a run and not being able to hear my footsteps. That would bother me a lot…

    • Robert,

      When you run, the object is not to hear your footsteps. Blaring music makes that very easy to accomplish. You know the old saying, “When you wear an iPod, you can’t hear yourself breathe like a freight train.”

  5. I liken the Clip+ vs. iPod comparison to McDonald’s coffee vs. Starbucks.

    The Clip+ and McD coffee are inexpensive, blue-collar, and reliable. The iPod and Starbucks coffee are overpriced, meant to impress, and temperamental.

    • Sorry that’s a misconception. The iPod Shuffle is more like McD’s. No screen. No extra memory. Small amount of memory to start with. And you’re suck with the headphones on the newest if you want to know the name of the song and artist. High price. And stuck with iTunes instead of a choice of programs.

  6. I have the 2gen Shuffle and like it, but I rarely use it since I got the original Clip. The Clip actually works great with iTunes on any operating system, including Mac — functioning as a flash drive. I don’t buy music, but iTunes has tons of podcasts and free music, although I admit that little of the music would be of interest to more modern tastes.

    My Clip has worked well, but I will get the new one when it shows up locally.

  7. the rhapsody service is awesome! But- it doesnt suit my needs as I like to listen to 2 hour drum and bass mixes that they dont have on their service. I have had 5 ipods and the Nano I have been using the last 3 years is like indestructable. It has been through sweat, rain, run over by cars (it falls out of my pocket when I fall off my bike) crushed, dented etc. I will be sad when it finally dies. Next, Im going to get the new shuffle as its so tiny, it practically fits into your waste band! Robert, not sure if you noticed but I only use one earbud when I run as to hear my footsteps (and cars when Im on the bike). I guess Im an apple junkie too.

  8. Bummer that I didn’t know about the Clip+ (or its new!). I just got a Fuze 4GB for a little less money mostly because it had the expansion slot whereas the little Clip did not.

    Hmm. I *do* have video, though.

  9. Love the Sansa products. I have a Fuze. I was thinking of getting a Clip+ (or another Fuze) to use at home (forgot my Fuze at work one time and needed it because of noisy neighbors). I am definately going to look at the Clip+ some more. Thanks for the post.

  10. In above picture this small i-pod look very nice and attractive I like what you detail give n related information for this.Thank you for this post it has very useful information.please keep posting like this with this useful information

  11. I have that same mp3 player Julie! I bought it for my water running (along with the waterproof aquabag thingy), I love it. It is so small and light, yet seems to work like a charm and has everything I need. I am not much on Apple these days. Loved them 20 years ago, now I feel like Google is the new Apple (I love my Android phone). That said, Apple products are pretty cutting edge. I really love listening to “books on mp3″ while I am in the pool. Makes things much more tolerable.

    Bonnie

    • Be careful with the Clip and water running. I lazily left it in the aquabag overnight and it died from exposure to the residual moisture.

      • oh no! Did you have one of the desiccant packs in there? I have been using the same one for about 3 weeks now and was planning on changing it next week, maybe I should do it before then.

      • Dessicant packs? That’s going to be the name of my new rock band. No, didn’t think of that. I’m hoping it will dry out and work again so I’ll have it on hand for when I destroy the second one.

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