When I was planning for my gamescom trip I knew I needed a MP3 player to keep me occupied with podcasts during the long flight from South Africa to Germany, as well as a dictaphone to record interviews I would be conducting with a couple of developers. Thankfully SanDisk provided me with a review unit of its Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player which has a built-in microphone, allowing it to double as a compact dictaphone.
Once I had located a Micro USB cable I was able to easily hook up the Sansa Clip Zip to my Windows 7 PC and copy across dozens of podcasts for the flights which lay ahead of me. The MP3 player has a microSD slot for up to 32GB of additional storage, so if its internal memory of 4GB or 8GB (depending on the model) isn’t enough then this unobtrusive slot on the side of the unit is an absolute lifesaver. The Sansa Clip Zip supports a wide variety of audio formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, Ogg Vorbis (OGG) and FLAC so I ran into no issues getting my files working on the device.
The Sansa Clip Zip takes a couple of hours to charge via a Micro USB cable and is said to offer up to fifteen hours of battery life. The device features a 1.1-inch colour display and you can tweak auto-dim settings in the menu if you’re concerned about it running out of juice before you reach a recharge point.
One of the defining features of the Sansa Clip Zip is the large plastic clip on the back of it which you can use to secure it to your clothes, belt or backpack strap. This clip feels very durable and has just the right amount of tension so you don’t feel like it will come adrift or that it will be too hard to prise loose from the point of attachment.
Another handy feature of the device are its large buttons which are easy to press and discern from each other even when you’re not looking at them. The Sansa Clip Zip also has a lock function so you don’t skip to the next track or turn off your music accidentally due to the buttons’ large size.
The device’s colour screen can display album artwork and makes navigating menus a simple exercise thanks to its relatively large screen size in the MP3 player sphere. At times the menu and folders could have been more intuitive since songs stored on internal memory and the microSD card are stored in separate folders, and files are categorised as music, audiobooks and voice (i.e. dictaphone recordings) seemingly automatically.
I was a bit nervous that the Sansa Clip Zip wouldn’t pick up every word spoken during the interviews I recorded at gamescom but these fears turned out to be unwarranted. I simply put down the device on the table in front of me during my interviews and it picked up all the audio from both these sessions perfectly. The Sansa Clip Zip records audio in the WAV format so it was a cinch to copy these files to my PC and transcribe the interviews when I returned home to Durban.
Besides functioning as a MP3 player and dictaphone, the Sansa Clip Zip also features a built-in FM radio and stopwatch which could come in handy during a run or workout. The device is very lightweight and features a cool plastic matte finish so it’s unlikely to feel slimy to the touch even when you’re sweating like a pig.
The Sansa Clip Zip has a recommended retail price of R499 excluding VAT and is available in seven colours including orange, purple, red, and blue. Compared to other MP3 players I’ve used, SanDisk’s offering is the standout product in this price bracket due to its expandable storage, durable clip, and dictaphone functionality. While its form factor and user interface don’t ooze sex appeal, they get the job done and the device is an affordable option for the average consumer.