We've been big fans of the SanDisk Sansa line over the last few years and now the flash wizards are adding a midranger and I've got the first official pics.
The Sansa 'Fuze', like Amazon accidentally leaked today, is indeed a 4GB flash player designed to tackle the iPod nano. It has a 1.9in display, a microSDHC memory card expansion slot, FM tuner and mic. Battery life is also impressive at 24 hours continuous playback for audio and five for video.
For the first time these shots reveal that the Fuze will be available in pink, blue, black, silver and red while it will retail for $99.99 (approx £50) - there is expected to be a slight mark-up on the UK RRP.
Now an important aside here: I'm a big Sansa fan but this is a somewhat quirky move. After all, I thought the Sansa View did a fantastic job of sticking it to the iPod nano - it was better in virtually every respect - and Jon thought so too in our review. That was it, everything done and dusted.
So it is something of a surprise to see the Fuze since SanDisk already has its nano beater/challenger. Besides, while the £59.99 RRP (I'm estimating the being-British-tax here) is excellent value it does overlap rather closely with the 8GB entry level Sansa View.
The View can be found online currently for as little as £85 and for a £25 premium you get twice the memory, a more stylish design, larger screen, 30fps QVGA video playback and a brilliant battery life managing 35 hours of continuous music playback or seven hours for video. I know which one I'd buy... even if I were short of a quid or two.
Still, SanDisk could be right here - the gap between the excellent Clip (£29.99) and View is still £50 and - while Apple may not see the need for anything between the shuffle and the nano - this can be a lot for many. That said, I think the primary reason for the Fuze lies more behind the fact that the flash specialist can't compete in the HDD space with the iPod Classic and (I suspect) doesn't yet have the tech in place to create a rival for the iPod touch.
As a result I understand its desire not to stand still, but with the Sansa line now containing the Clip, Express, Fuze and View it's getting mighty crowded in there.
Update: 2GB to 8GB models will be available and the player is now official.
Update 2: Now I'm even more confused. US Prices (read: it'll be more over here) are $79.99 (£40), $99.99 (50), and $129.99 (£65) for 2GB, 4GB and 8GB editions respectively. The entry leveller will surely cut into 2GB Clip sales (£29.99) while the 8GB Fuze will likely cost within £10 of online 8GB View prices. I said it was getting mighty croweded in there....