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It's been a while since SanDisk appeared out of nowhere and launched its nano-beating e200 range of MP3 players. Our very own Gordon Kelly was highly impressed with the e260 and the range is due for another refresh very soon. We're expecting the new line-up to offer even more features in a package that's equally as competitively priced as the one before, but it's been the subject of frustrating delays and now looks like it won't be available for a good few months yet.
In the meantime SanDisk is filling the void with its diminutive USB stick player, the Sansa Express, and it adopts much the same approach to the task of MP3 playback as its bigger brothers and sisters – that of packing in as many features as possible and then charging less for it than the competition.
In football, rigid tactics like these work fine but you have to have an extraordinary player who can do the unusual – pop up out of nowhere and bamboozle a defence before scoring a stunning goal – if you're to have any success. Fortunately, in the case of the Express, it has a star player: a memory expansion slot.
Most mid-range players lack this feature, so to find a microSD slot on one costing just a fraction more than £30 (for the 1GB version) is remarkable. It's certainly more than most of the competition is offering and puts the Express out in front in a class of its own. With 2GB microSD cards available now for pin money you'll be able to triple the capacity of the 1GB player and turn the 2GB unit into a 4GB player for well under a tenner.
The Express goes on to offer a full colour, four-line OLED screen, which is bigger than the Sony NW-E015's and much more readable than Creative's monochrome effort on the Zen Stone Plus. It has better battery life than the Zen Stone Plus too, with 15 hours playback available at moderate volume and bit rates. Obviously if you listen to it louder and at higher bit rates this will drop.