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SanDisk Sansa View 16GB
Most of the time in the technology industry, it takes a specialist with long experience to produce truly brilliant products. The best digital cameras, for instance, are invariably produced by people such as Canon and Nikon - not Mustek or BenQ. The best sat-navs are made by TomTom, who make nothing else.
It's rare that a company just pops up and produces a range of products, seemingly outside its area of expertise, which sweeps all before it. And as Sir Clive Woodward proved when he tried to break into football after being so successful in international rugby - it's a tough thing to do, whatever industry you work in.
Yet that's exactly what SanDisk has done over the past couple of years with its MP3 players. Its e-series of flash players targeted and soundly thumped the original Apple iPod nano in almost every area - they were much cheaper, looked great, were easy to use and had more features. And, more recently, it has done the same with Shuffle rival - the Clip. But time moves on, and though the e-series is still incredibly good value, other players - including the new iPod nano - are beginning to make it look old fashioned.
Step forward the Sansa View - SanDisk's replacement for the e-series and its latest attempt to gain the coveted "why buy anything else?" recommendation the last player did. Can it pull the same trick off again? It's no surprise to see that SanDisk has adopted the familiar tactic of squeezing as much in for as little money as possible, then taking each feature the nano has to offer and improving on it. It starts with capacity: the View is available in 8GB for around £100 while 16GB is £124, and there's a huge 32GB flash model on the way too. That's great value for money, especially when you consider that Apple only offers the nano in capacities of up to 8GB and at this capacity it's about the same price as the 16GB View.
But price and capacity aren't the only areas where the View soundly trounces the nano - and most other MP3 players on the market, for that matter. It also has a MicroSD expansion slot for adding another gigabyte or two in the (unlikely) event that you run out of capacity and there's an FM tuner with 20 presets. There's even the facility to record, plus an external microphone so you can use it as a dictaphone. The nano has none of these features and it falls behind on battery life as well. The View's quoted 35 hours with music is 11 hours longer, and seven hours of video playback is not to be sniffed at either.