Review: Sandisk Sansa Clip and Linux

Posted by dowdle on Apr 13, 2009 7:33 PM EDT; By Scott Dowdle
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I have always wanted a good quality audio player that works well with Linux and plays Ogg Vorbis files. Even though the Sansa Clip was originally released in 2007, I somehow missed it. The gang on The Linux Link Tech Show mentioned the Sandisk Sansa Clip as being an affordable, quality portable audio player that worked well with Linux so I decided to give it a shot. I did a little bargain hunting online and found a refurbished 1GB unit for $18.95 plus shipping so I thought it was hard to go wrong for that price. The unit arrived three days ago and I spent all weekend using it.

[I got this very model for free when I got my phone and it works with my Linux machines. - Scott]

The Sansa Clip really has some nice features above and beyond a simple audio media player. When you turn on the unit you will notice four things in the menu: 1) Music, 2) Settings, 3) Voice, and 4) FMRadio. The first two have all of the features you'd expect from an audio player but the latter two are pretty unique in a budget player. The Sansa Clip has a built in microphone and can do voice recording. It also has a built in FM radio tuner so you can listen to live radio if you want... but you can also record radio content if desired. In the three days I've had the unit I've not used the radio or voice recorder much... other than to see how they work.

Since the Sansa Clip is pretty small it seems reasonable to compare it to the Apple iPod Shuffle. My wife has the previous generation Shuffle and my inlaws have the new generation Shuffle (with all of the controls on the earbud cable) so I feel quite comfortable comparing the iPod Shuffle to the Sansa Clip.

How do they compare? The Sansa Clip kicks the iPod Shuffle's ass. The main reason is the Sansa Clip has a display screen. Need more reasons? The Sansa has a lot more features... most of which I have covered already. The Shuffle doesn't have an FM tuner, doesn't do voice recording, doesn't have a display screen, and (mostly) only works with iTunes on Windows and Mac. It seems that every iTunes upgrade or firmware update Apple comes out tries to break compatibility with non-iTunes applications... and yes, it is on purpose.

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