Review: Sansa Clip Zip

Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip in Packaging
Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip in Packaging

I’ve been using MP3 players since they first existed. I can’t remember the name of the device, but I got it with my Audible subscription. Then, I used my PDA for a while – remember those? Then I used an iPod Shuffle, but it didn’t work well with my Linux computer. The database kept getting corrupted since Apple can’t play nicely with others so it has to be reverse-engineered. So I told myself I’d never get another Apple music playing device. About three years ago, I went with a Sandisk Sansa Fuze. Since then I’ve gone through three of them, approximately one per year. What keeps happening is that the headphone jack gets looser and looser until the slightest nudge makes it so that I can’t hear one of the audio channels. Since I use it work out, this quickly gets VERY annoying. But I really, really like Sandisk’s GUI for their devices – it has a specific podcast section that resumes the podcast where I left off, even if I go back and forth between different podcasts. I don’t do that too often, but I do it often enough that it’s important. So I got a Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip because the Fuze+ has horrible reviews (for the way they changed the buttons) and since I’m using it to work out, I could use a smaller, lighter device.

I’ve been using it for about a month. Here are my gripes:

  • The headphones are extremely hard to insert and remove – the headphone jack has an extremely tight grip. That makes me think that it may end up with the same issue as the Fuze because if it’s that tight, it’s surely going to fade with the friction of use. So I’m trying not to remove and insert headphones any more than necessary
  • One of the things I hated about the iPod shuffle was the lack of a screen so I had to listen to all my podcasts before I could add in new ones. So the thing I like about the Sandisk GUI is that I can delete each podcast episode as I listen to it. This allows me to add in new podcasts without losing my spot in whichever podcast I’m listening to. However, there’s a bug with the Sansa Clip Zip that causes it to jump to another folder whenever I delete a podcast episode. At least it has an easy solution. When I delete an episode and it jumps me to another folder, I just hit the back button and it takes me back to the podcast folder I was originally in. So it sucks, but isn’t horrible.
  • When I first used it, when I deleted all the episodes from a podcast it would still show that folder – making it hard for me to tell whether I needed to reload my player with new podcasts. Luckily, after the first refresh after that (after loading in new podcasts) it no longer happened
  • People suggested updating it to see if that fixes any of the issues, but the updater program on the disk crashes Windows 7
  • The USB charging cable that came with it is so short as to be pointless to include. It’s literally about as long as from my middle finger to the middle of my hand. So you must have front USB ports for this to make any sense.
  • If you leave it to charge until it’s completely charged – the player will lock up and can’t be turned on unless you hold the power button for about 30 seconds. This “resets” the device. Your podcasts are all still there, but you lose you spot and have to start listening again from the beginning (or fast forward to wherever you were)

Those grips aside, it has been working fine for what I want it to do and I appreciate the smaller size. It’s a shame it has such fundamental (and probably easily fixed) flaws, but with Apple in such a dominant position and most people starting to use their Smart Phones as their media players, I don’t think Sandisk has the incentive to make a product that’s as good as Apple’s while being open and supporting all the main codecs (mp3, wma, aac, ogg, flac, and one or two more). If you need something to exercise, but hate Apple, I recommend it but just know you need to learn to deal with its quirks.

Sandisk Sansa Fuze and Sansa Clip Zip size comparison
Sandisk Sansa Fuze and Sansa Clip Zip size comparison