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Last but by no means least, sound quality is pretty good too. You're probably not expecting mind-blowing audiophile-quality sound for this sort of money - and you don't get it - but plug a halfway decent set of headphones (the boxed earbuds are, perhaps understandably, woeful and completely lacking in body and bass) into the Clip and you'll be rewarded with a clear, punchy sound.
I fired up the live recording of Georgie Fame and his Birthday Big Band at the Kentish Town Forum - an excellent test of everything from clarity to bass and volume power - and I was pleasantly surprised. The atmospherics aren't all there and it's not quite as pin sharp as the Zen Stone or as balanced as the Shuffle, but there's really not much in it and the volume available makes up for this, coping with the complex big band dynamics admirably well. This player even goes loud enough to drive external headphones comfortably and, as a result, punches out energetic and complex music with less of a struggle than many cheap players I've listened to.
Perhaps the only disappointment is that the Clip doesn't support more music file formats, but for this sort of money, MP3, WMA, protected WMA, WAV and Audible files is about as good as you're likely to get - and again it's no worse than that on offer from its rivals.
This latest SanDisk Sansa MP3 player is, in short, one of the best stocking fillers you could possibly hope to find this Christmas. Despite being slightly weak on format support, it is feature-packed and feels even a little luxurious in other respects.
It's miles better than its main rivals, the Creative Zen Stone Plus and iPod Shuffle; so good, in fact, that you could even pass it off as a main present for the one you love, and save a bit of cash for the post New Year sales. But you wouldn't be that devious...would you?
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality