Moving onto something a little more sedate – Pat Metheny’s atmospheric ”Map Of The World” – and the harshness mentioned before is easier to live with, but the music just lacks something. There’s not quite the lushness here as you get with Sony’s NWZ-A829, the punch and power of Creative’s Zen or even the warmth of the nano, though the breadth of sound and imaging are very good and the hard edge is less of a problem. Lisa Ekdahl’s warm jazz serves to emphasise the lack of warmth, with the double bass not quite as meaty as I would like.
But if the sound quality is disappointing, the pricing is even more so. Where the previous generation of SanDisk players wowed us with their incredible value for money – and the View was no different, offering 16GB of storage for an incredible sub-£130 price – the Fuze seems to have got it a little wrong.
The 8GB version costs around £90. This is cheaper than the equivalent capacity nano by around £15, but not by much, and when you take into account the fact that the nano handles video much better (as does the Fuze’s big brother the View) and sounds smoother too, that small saving begins to look less enticing. It’s also worth nothing that the 8GB Creative Zen is cheaper than this too, at £79 at the time of writing for a player with a larger screen and better sound quality.
On the plus side, the Fuze is available in a smaller, 2GB variant that retails at a much more reasonable £55. Add a microSD card to increase the capacity and the price begins to look more reasonable.
Hopefully the initially expensive prices will fall, because without that advantage, the Fuze looks distinctly out of sorts. It’s a fine player with many worthy features, a lovely design and an interface that’s extremely easy to use, but it’s far from perfect.
Disappointing video handling, and sound quality that doesn’t quite match the competition means it has to undercut players such as the nano and Creative Zen significantly on price. Unfortunately, the price isn’t quite low enough.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 6