This weekend I reviewed the 16GB Sansa View media player. As I’m still sporting a first generation iPod, the Sansa View immediately captured my attention with its pencil-thin sleek black design. Forget carrying cases, or interchangeable frames, I’m sticking with this baby as stock.
As with any personal media player the Sansa View comes standard with the ability to play all your mp3s, digital photos, and sports a 2.4 inch screen for viewing your video files (WMV, MPEG4, and H.264). What sets the Sansa View apart from the competition is the built in digital FM tuner, and an integrated microphone for all your personal recording needs. Additionally, the Sansa View has an expandable memory slot (microSD) to store even more random stuff on! Sandisk claims the battery lasts up to 35 hours when playing audio, and 7 hours for video, a good long while! Needless to say, I was ready to put this puppy though the paces!
The Sansa View ships with the View, headphones, and a USB plug/charger. If you want a wall or car charger, you have to buy one separately. The View does not ship with any software. Once attached to your computer via the supplied USB cable, the Sansa View is recognized as a removable drive, ready to go, asking you, no, begging you to load media on to it.
I threw some songs on there as well as a episode of Scrubs that I had previously downloaded. Uh oh. First set back. I was advised the format of my video was not supported (Xvid). Silly me to have forgotten about the need to transcode the file into the proper format. Ok, so step 1 was to find the software.
It turns out this is harder to find than one might expect. I went to Sandisk.com and could not find it anywhere in the support section of their site. Turns out Sandisk really has two versions of their website for showing their mp3 players, one which is Sansa specific, and one which is generic to all Sandisk products. The transcoding software is only linked through one, not both. After some searching, I finally located it, but ran into troubles during the install. The setup program does nothing for a good minute or two after the program is started (looking all the while like it froze). I tried to run the setup program on both my desktop and laptop with similar results. I finally just let it sit for a while, and eventually did get it installed properly. In order to successfully transcode a video file, you need to have the Sansa View connected to the computer. The final product is transferred to the View during the conversion process. It would have be nice to have been able to transcode files to transfer to the View at a later time, but this wasn’t a major drawback to me. The whole process took about 75 minutes for a 175mb, 22 minute video file. I don’t know if that is average or not as the View is my first foray into personal media players.
I will say that the final result was well worth the wait. Video playback and the audio synch was perfect. The View delivers smooth motion (up to 30fps), even during high action sequences.
The digital FM tuner is also a fine addition to any mp3 player. Sometimes I just want to listen to random music that I haven’t pre-selected. With the View, when my attention span for my personal music wanes, it’s right there with the FM tuner to keep me going.
The built in microphone is fun and has decent recording quality. Honestly, though, I’ve got the same feature on my cell phone and never use it, so I don’t know how much use the recording feature will have with the average user. Still, it’s better to seldomly use a feature than to not have it when you desperately need it.
The only complaints I might have are that it is not intuitive at all how to stop a file (music or video) once it starts playing. You can pause it, but if you’ve ventured into any of the other menus, including the main graphic menu, you have to return to the category playing the current file in order to do so. There does not seem to be a stop feature at all. You can only pause, or switch from one file to another. I know this sounds weird, but I’ve read the manual twice now to make sure and there is absolutely no mention of a stop button. I don’t have anything against pausing per se, but sometimes there’s something nice about being able to instantly stop a device.
Conclusion: All in all, the Sansa View is my top choice for compact personal media players. Priced, on average, about $50 cheaper than comparably sized (both physically, and in terms of storage capacity) Nanos, the Sansa View is the obvious choice for consumers.