Review MP3 player SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip and its modernization using Rockbox
Music players do not lose their relevance, although their market has noticeably thinned in recent years. Some producers have shifted and produce portable players for audiophiles, while others have reduced the range and left only the most proven model. The reason for this decline in popularity is quite obvious — people listen to music on smartphones.
But to give up on portable audio players before. There are different situations when banal MP3 player is preferable to a smartphone. For example, the classic camping — answer calls and have no desire to, and to listen to the music I want. If relaxing by the river, lake or the sea, chances to “kill” the device, dropping it in the water, not so little. But one thing, if it is a cheap MP3 player, but quite another if it’s recently bought a smartphone.
Another very good example is sports. Imagine mentally the following picture. Quiet dawn, the sound of running sneakers — the man in the earphones laps around the stadium. The athlete makes a stop and moves on to the exercises, start doing the slopes. The first tilt, and boom! — from his breast pocket onto the asphalt falls smartphone. The screen is cracked or heavily scratched, the mood of the owner spoiled. But would he, for example, the Sansa Clip Zip tragedy could have been avoided, because this player is just designed for athletes and has a clip for fixing on clothing. And even if the player miraculously fell and (which is unlikely) crashed the financial loss would be quite small, when compared with the expense of buying a new smartphone to replace the fallen.
Sansa Clip Zip is a simple player that is designed for travelers, athletes and students. The device is very inexpensive, but has one important advantage over many more advanced MP3 players — Sansa Clip Zip works fine the alternative firmware Rockbox. And it turns out to be the player, and lasts longer, and supports a greater number of music formats and offers features that device of this class usually should not wait.
But let’s take first things first. First briefly consider the features of the player with “native” firmware and then install Rockbox and analyze the differences.
Design and appearance
So, the player is positioned as sporty. Talking about it, and the inscription on the box, and bright colors, which have a Sansa Clip Zip, and its small size and the clip to attach. There is every reason to believe that this player will appeal not only to those involved in sports, but also for those who just leads an active lifestyle. Don’t be distracted by the pictures — in fact it’s very small size. Player from SanDisk is so compact and lightweight that it easily can be hung, caught, say, a collar of garment for strap bag or backpack or even ear frames sunglasses.
It seems that the creators of the player would make it even less, but, apparently, they had to find a middle ground. The minimum size of this device is limited by the dimensions of the power supply, which is noticeably smaller battery for Nokia phones. Length of the device coincides with the width of the narrow belt, for which the player is securely fixed to the clip-pin. Its design has a small but important detail is in the latched position clip player firmly fixed with two counter projections at its ends. With them even a strong move to not frustrate the player with a belt.
To control the player used a four-sided “rocker”. She has a pretty noticeable backlash, although its functions are carried out normally.
The headphone Jack is located on the side, and it’s very tight. However, it is unlikely that you will often pull out and connect the plug. On the opposite side is a connector for USB connection. No slot for microSD-card or USB-cable are not protected — they are not blind or blind. So if you take a Sansa Clip Zip to a place where there is sand and moisture, it can be a good test of its durability. If you look at the USB port, you can even see the crack of the headphone Jack on the reverse side.
The battery life
On the package any portable music player, the developers did not forget to brag about the amount of music that can fit in the device memory. Manufacturer Sansa Clip Zip, too, follows this tradition. The player is available in two versions: 4 and 8 GB of internal memory. While vosmichastny models exist only in black and gray colors, and for a cheaper version with 4 GB you can choose one of nine body colors.
According to SanDisk, the player even with a slight amount of memory to 4GB can hold thousands of songs. It should be a reservation: the figure is taken from the calculation that on average a track has a duration of three and a half minutes, and file format is MP3 with a bitrate of 120 kbps. Simple calculations say that it is about 58 hours.
This one only internal memory and with additional microSD card which is supported by the device, this figure increases many times over. With such a huge potential “baby” the claimed rate of Autonomous operation time 15 hours disastrously low. In the best case with the active use it will last for the whole day. On the other hand, this is the minimum below which player would be quite inconvenient to use. And so 15 hours, 9 hours to rest and charge the battery. Our own test showed that the player is able to play just over 11 hours of music a collection of files in formats Flac and MP3 at high volume. Charging a completely discharged battery was 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Menu and control
Enabled device like a smartphone — almost flat button at the top of the case. The same button is used to activate / deactivate the lock mode function keys player.
The Sansa Clip Zip screen is quite bright. And although in the settings it can be made slightly brighter variation of brightness is small. From 70 (the default value) to 100 percent display brightness about the same. Navigating the menus of the player are quite clear, although it will take some time to remember the basic rules of the control menu items.
Unlike some other players in the Sansa Clip Zip has the ability to configure menu — unnecessary items can be disabled, then the switching between modes the device will be faster.
Built-in radio works pretty confident player perfectly finds the station, and if the signal level is insufficient, and the station is audible with the noise, the device can be configured in mono — perhaps, it will save from unpleasant interference. After some experiments with headphones it turned out that the reception quality has little impact on what headphone is plugged in. As an antenna wire is used, and the dose depends on its length and structure.
In the process, radio and iterating through the items of the player settings, it turned out that the Sansa Clip Zip is disruptive and breaks the sound — rather, it is the mistakes native firmware. This disadvantage is not critical and was seen by chance.
The player has the ability to record radio programs, but, unfortunately, only in WAV format, so you can store your own library of gear — a very big waste.
The first time holding a small model of the Sansa Clip Zip, to mind of thoughts creep about the need to use portable amps — I can not believe that this compact player will be able to give good sound.
The sound quality is, of course, a subjective thing. However, in this case after testing we have no doubt any sound that produces a player from SanDisk is very good. This is perhaps one of the few portable MP3 players from the price range up to 2 000 rubles, which is able to deliver smooth sound without irritating noise, without a strong rattle and booming bass. But there is one secret, not knowing which can be very disappointed in the player. This should be known to every owner of a Sansa Clip Zip.
The first switch device us is not pleased — the sound was quiet. And from this arises the obvious conclusion is that the amplifier player is very weak. Came to mind thinking about the portable headphone amplifiers such as Fiio. However, with such a tiny form factor, even a miniature amplifier is not very relevant. After all, the beauty of Sansa Clip Zip in to to weightless and almost invisible player with quality sound, and extra wire, and connected devices, so to speak, kill all the romance.
But, fortunately, to the amps is not reached, because it turned out that the audio output to the player everything is perfectly in order. It was necessary to reset player settings and change the regional setting from Europe to other countries like for unknown reasons, the volume increased markedly. After seeing the reviews from owners of this player, we realized that the problem is global.
Some time later we found the cause of this strange behavior of the player. It turned out that, according to the EU regulations, the volume level of the portable device shall not exceed 85 dB, so all the players, produced for Europe, and was introduced by this artificial limitation.
Imagine how much the owners of the Sansa Clip Zip was dissatisfied with the lack of volume. If you run the player the rules, choosing the correct setup, it plays by about 25% quieter. Good powerful level headphones Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO in this dimmed mode, the player will not be able to shake properly, but in non-European mode — easily. In principle, good headphones with high sensitivity and low on-resistance with a quiet sound you can accept, but why?
The MP3 player is too small to read a normal book, but it can be used for literature of a different kind — of audiobooks, for which in the player menu there is a separate paragraph. However, the audiobook, by design of the manufacturer of the player should be only Audible protected format (*.aa). Theoretically, such books can be purchased at online stores Audible.com and the iTunes Store. We suspect that for English-speaking users this option the player is practically useless. As well as not interested in their podcasts and with which the player is also expected to work.
But “Sport” may be useful. In it you will find a stopwatch that can be used for fixation of records. In addition, the Sansa Clip Zip allows you to keep statistics of performed exercises.
The battery discharge indicator is too small. In addition, the battery level is not always displayed correctly. For example, the player showed on the screen the level of 80-90 percent, although in reality the battery at this time had only half of the maximum charge.
Player met. Now, let’s make it better!