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SanDisk Clip Sport review

Andrew Williams

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Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Small and light
  • Strong top volume (non EU mode)
  • Cheap

Cons

  • No lock switch
  • Lacks finishing touches of Apple players

Key Features

  • 8/16GB storage
  • microSD card slot
  • Manufacturer: SanDisk
  • Review Price: £35.00

What is the SanDisk Clip Sport?

The SanDisk Clip Sport is an MP3 player with an integrated belt clip, which turns it into a pretty handy gadget for runners and gym fans. It’s also small, light and fairly cheap. It’s not all that much different from the previous SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip, but a doubling of battery life makes it a better player.

SanDisk Clip Sport – Design and Features

Convenience and portability are two of the main aims of the SanDisk Clip Sport. Its footprint is smaller than an iPad nano’s, and it is almost completely free of gimmicks.

There’s no touchscreen operation, no weak internal speaker, no Bluetooth or NFC. A no-nonsense approach is something that might be considered a side effect of being made by a company that doesn’t need to make music players that ‘stand out’. It offers a cheaper, mostly-reliable alternatives to Apple’s players. That’s it.

The SanDisk Clip Sport is an all-plastic player with six clicky buttons on its front and a volume rocker on the side. It feels fairly well-made, although nowhere near the level of the simpler, metal iPod shuffle.

It’s a little bit slimmer than the Zip Clip we reviewed two years ago, but otherwise they’re very similar. There’s a chunky belt clip on the back and an exposed microSD slot on the right edge. There’s no worrying flexing, but the plastic screen cover is likely to get scratched fairly quickly if you’re not careful.

Although SanDisk labels the Clip Sport as an MP3 player for active types, there are just two features behind this. One is obvious – the belt clip. The other is a pretty basic pair of Sport ‘apps’. You get a timer and a stopwatch. These were present in the Clip Zip too, pretty much confirming that this player has only been conspicuously labelled a ‘sport’ gadget to aid sales and marketing – it's the same as the other Clip players really.

Adding Bluetooth would have made this more convincing (headphone cables can get in the way when you’re running), but would have doubtless have upped the price too. The 8GB version of the player costs £49.99, the 4GB £35.

The SanDisk Clip Sport’s design is pretty handy. When held single-handed the buttons are easily accessible with a single thumb, and the side volume rocker is heavily contoured so you don’t need to look at the thing while changing volume.

There’s one clear hardware feature missing – a lock switch. We complained about this last time we reviewed one of SanDisk’s players, and nothing has changed. If you’re using the Clip Sport as a sporty player it’s not a deal-breaker. However, it’s not so great if you want an everyday player – changing tracks accidentally while it’s in your pocket is common and clipping it on your clothes in a busy city environment is a sure way to get your player nicked.

There are also none of the neat extra bits you get in one of Apple's players. The Clip Sport won't work with earphone remote controls, it won't remember where you were navigating in your music library should you leave the player for quite a while, and it won't pause music when you unplug your earphones.

It's cheap and cheerful, and suitably comes in a bunch of colours. We only tried the boring black version, but there are five additional shades. They’re not all available in both storage sizes, though. This is another pretty common criticism of the Clip line-up that remains unfixed.

SanDisk Clip Sport – Screen and Interface

Aside from the buttons, a lead hardware feature is the SanDisk Clip Sport’s screen. Some MP3 players at the price don’t have a screen at all.

It’s a 1-inch 128 x 128 pixel LCD display. That’s slightly higher-res than the 96 x 96 pixel screen of the Clip Zip, but it’s still pretty low-res compared with today’s phones, and the 240 x 432 pixel screen of the iPod nano. As we saw with the Clip Sport’s build, it’s not quite Apple-grade. The panel quality is just OK, with pretty severe contrast shift should you turn the screen at the wrong angle.

But it’s not bad. It’s a full colour display, and the interface makes good use of the colour palette. It’s bright, it’s colourful and quite simple too, with none of the fiddliness of some other budget players.

However, during playback the artist and track names get severely sidelined in favour of album art. We’d prefer to see clearer track details, especially as the album covers don’t look great on such a tiny, low-res screen.

Extra beside the stopwatch include an FM radio, a file browser and a document reader, which isn’t much use thanks to the small screen size.

SanDisk Clip Sport – Sound Quality and Battery Life

These days a small cheap player doesn’t need to mean a compromise in sound quality. The SanDisk Clip Sport offers decent sound quality and – as long as you don’t select Europe as your region – masses of volume.

You’re asked to select your region upon start-up, and if you select Europe the player is subjected to extremely aggressive volume limitating that effectively ruins the player with any earphones that are remotely hard to drive.

To get a proper view on the SanDisk Clip Sport’s sound quality we compared it with an iPod Classic – a benchmark of reasonable, but not staggering, sound. Maximum volume on the SanDisk is greater, and the width of the soundstage is quite similar.

However, presentation of the mid-range is different. The Clip Sport has much more up-front, harder mids, making vocals sound closer to your ears. The softer, more diffuse mids of the iPod Classic are a little easier on the ear, and the Clip Sport can sound a little harsh at times. However, in pure sound quality terms they are roughly comparable – not great, but decent.

A big sound quality win for the Clip Sport, though, is codec support. As well as the usual AAC and MP3, the player supports FLAC and OGG files. These aren’t supported by iPods, or Sony’s low-cost ‘sporty’ MP3 players.

There is an EQ to hand too, but it’s pretty poor. The presets are rather crude, and the custom ‘user’ mode isn’t sophisticated enough to be particularly useful.

It’s the same setup we saw in the Clip Zip. However, battery life has been improved hugely since that model. It has gone from 12 hours to 25. These numbers relate to playing 128kbps MP3s on loop, so actual performance will be a fair bit worse. However, it means the difference between charging once a week and every couple of days – a huge improvement. We got through a week's use off a charge.

You get a pair of earphones in the box, and they’re of reasonable quality. They’re IEM-type isolating earphones – a bit bassy and with just entry-level sound, but not terrible.

Should I buy the SanDisk Clip Sport?

The SanDisk Clip Sport is a pretty practical MP3 player at a reasonable price. You get storage expansion, a colour screen and good file support for £40. And that’s not bad. You can save even more money if you go for a 'no-brand' option like the Kubik Evo, and aside from better battery life there’s hardly any benefit over SanDisk’s older players. Still, battery life matter.

The MP3 player market is in such a diminished state that we’ve learnt not to expect much ‘innovation’ in new products, and you don't find it here either. However, it's a good budget alternative to an iPod shuffle.

Verdict

The SanDisk Clip Sport is a small, fairly cheap MP3 player. It doesn’t have the gloss of Apple and there are few improvements over old models, but it is better.

Next, read about the best non-Apple MP3 players

Overall Score

7

davide

February 22, 2014, 10:36 am

A fair review but there are a few annoying issues with the Clip Sport which should be mentioned. The first is that internal and external memory aren't integrated in the browser, so if you're playing an album on the microsd card and you want to play something on the internal memory, it's necessary to navigate back to the home screen and find 'folders' to get to the internal memory. Another problem is that tracks are displayed and played alphabetically rather than by track number, so for classical music the Clip Sport is a disaster. Another curious problem is that the browser seems to omit album artists with names starting with P - U. On a plus side, the Clip Sport will work with a 64Gb microsd card as long as it's formatted with FAT32. And if you're using a 64Gb card it's probably not worth putting anything in the internal memory. Overall, the Clip Sport feels like something in alpha version rather than the finished product. Hopefully a firmware update will correct some of the issues but I suspect that the demarcation between internal and external memory is here to stay.

Jim

February 22, 2014, 7:35 pm

You're seriously comparing this player to apple devices, at this price? That's like comparing a ford fiesta to a mercedes. You don't expect a mercedes if you buy a fiesta, but that doesn't make the fiesta a crap car.

Dave

February 23, 2014, 12:03 pm

And if you put Rockbox on it, you get a full parametric equaliser and stunning sound quality. Then you can put a 64gb card in it and you have the best player on the market for less than £80.

Yatto

March 2, 2014, 12:19 am

This player, unlike old Sandisk players, uses the ATJ2127 as SoC, which is completly different: other architecture, much less RAM, other DAC... hence Rockbox cannot ne ported (at least it will be maybe very difficult if not impossible to do a port) on this Clip Sport. Looks like Sandisk decided to go cheap with their components...
Moreover this one doesn't sound like the usual sound quality of real Clip+ and Clip Zip. The chip is what you get in the Philips GoGear Vibe, which is, as described, correct but not as amazing as the Clip Family was.
More info here: http://forums.rockbox.org/inde...

In my opinion, stick with a genuine Clip+ or Clip Zip. older, cheaper, rockboxable, best sound. The arrival of this new Clip Sport will contribute to lower the price of older ones, at least it will be good at this. It suffers from the comparison with its elder brothers !

TheConciseStatement

March 9, 2014, 9:10 pm

There's no sign that this is Micro SDXC compatible, which, given the time since the Clip+ and Clip Zip were released, is really disappointing. Other than the expanded colour options they should've sorted out long ago, not sure why this is an upgrade.

Sébastien Hernalsteens

April 21, 2014, 8:07 pm

THX U SO MUCH ! ! ! !
I've been buying external amps (several in series) to crank the volume up, as you almost can't hear a thing at max volume!! I live in europe. I changed the setting to north america and this gives me more than 5 fiio amps (all that wiring and fiddling was very ennoying as I use it for sports). I always thought the first gen sansa clip was the loudest (but music plays a bit too slow on it and quality not as good as later on, but I accepted these flaws as at least with the 1st gen I only had to use 1 extra amp to have enough volume).
FUXXX the euro setting! That was the only flaw that made me consider lots of other options. Clearly the aXXholes making euro regulations didn't ever bother to test the sound level, as on euro setting you can only hear it sufficiently in total quietness while lying in bed! And with older 'walkmans' on full volume the traffic I was biking through was always loud enough to go over the music.
I've been wasting lots of my life looking if there wasn't something wrong with my ears (they're perfect, I'm a pilot) as I figured they didn't go deep enough into my ears to be loud enough.
All that time it was a FFFFing euro 'regulation' again! Don't they know music players have a volume knob??
Thx for your review. The sound quality on the clip+ is amazing and kept me awake several times against better judgement, just admiring it, not able to turn it off.
seb from belgium.

Tomek

June 14, 2014, 2:40 pm

Sansa clip zip is better than ipods because it supports gapless playback for MP3! And supports CUE sheets!! out of the box ( there is no other player supports that). You dont need to instal rockbox software. There is no av receiver or other hifi system on earth that supports gaplees for mp3 format this is crazy!

Steve

June 15, 2014, 3:14 pm

A further lack in the new player is that of any record capability. Not vital to many perhaps but definitely a deal breaker for me. Returning to Clip Zip use.

DeeD

August 24, 2014, 9:27 pm

New changes since 1.09
Enhancements:

• Added Key Lock
(Press and Hold Back Button for 2 seconds to enable Key lock, Press and
hold back button 2 seconds to disable Key lock)

Henry

February 10, 2015, 5:09 pm

Thx for this nice review!!

What is the largest external SD card that the Clip Sport will support? 32G? Thanks for u guys help!!

Marcello

March 15, 2015, 8:16 pm

Total crap. I've bought one and I had to resell it straight away: sound is flat, harsh, and has no bass boost . The Clip Zip is definitely superior. I suggest to ignore this Clip Sport!

Darth Slacker

May 22, 2015, 8:36 pm

Was this a review for a Sandisk product OR...how it's NOT an Apple product. The equalizer for European mode was a nice warning. Seriously STOP trying to Push people into Apple products, Some of us never joined your cult.

I was looking for an MP3 player for my Dad (who is late 70's) for Fathers Day and wanted to how easy & simple this model was to use NOT how it is NOT an Apple product and why. You were practically NO Help.

Doc

July 20, 2015, 2:34 pm

Wonder how it fairs when you sweat on it? I think thats what killed my zip clip.

MANISH PARASHAR

August 31, 2015, 10:34 pm

don't compare apples with oranges, Jim

ElectricPrism

November 3, 2015, 10:10 pm

These are the reasons you should buy a SanDisk Clip
o ) You realize iTunes is a virus designed to cripple your Windows PC with 8 hidden services that ruin your Windows Install soas to entice you to switch to Mac.
o ) You realize it's immoral for a company to scramble the music on your device to prevent you from copying the music you own licenses to.
o ) You use Linux and have ascended to superior Music Players suchas Rhythmbox or Tomahawk (Linux, Win, Mac, Droid) and need a MP3 Player that works with those Music Player Apps.
o ) You want to drag & drop MP3s directly to the Device in My Computer without a in-between App to play gate-keeper.
o ) You want a Music Player you can expand using SDHC at least 32GB+ in addition to the internal 4 or 8gb.
o ) Your MP3 Music Player you designate to do "Music" and not Games, Chat, or some other nonsensical thing that has nothing to do with a Music Player
o ) You Workout at the Gym, Run, Bike, or Skate at the SkatePark and your iPod would fly out of your pocket shattering into a million pieces whereas the SanDisk Sansa Sport will likely tolerate a lot of abuse.
o ) You realize the technical advantage to tactile buttons you press over bullshit touchscreen where you can't identify where buttons start or end on the fly without removing said player out of your pocket and turning the screen on.

iPod Shuffle was the de-facto for sports until the SanDisk Clip Sport came along, the screen is plastic and will never shatter and it can fly out of your pocket @ 30mph and still do the thing it was designed to do.

Owned 2 Shuffles, now I own 2 Clip Sports & will likely gift more as it's just a superior product at doing what it was made to do.

Keep your Scanner out of my Fax out of my Printer, and keep your MP3 Player out of my Phone, out of my Gaming Console, out of my Email and Web Browser.

Shoving multiple technologies into a single device to convey "value" is a very difficult thing to do, and often one of the technologies fails. I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket cuz when the basket breaks ur screwed and can't fix the 1 problem with 1 solution other than tossing $600 for a new fancy device who's one weakness is if it every falls once your screen is toast, time for another $600 to fix it instead of the $44 it cost me for this SanDisk Clip Sport.

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