Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Portable entertainment

Presenting the gems in portable entertainment.

Page 8 of 11

Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player, by SanDisk

You have to admire the tenacity of SanDisk to continually come out with portable music players, when the rest of the market has clearly ceded the role of leader to Apple and its iPod, iPhone and iPad devices. Other competitors have just added music player functionality to their smartphones, such as BlackBerry, Microsoft and the assorted Android phones. Even Microsoft got out of the market, ditching the Zune. So it's amazing to see another music player come out from SanDisk. Maybe they think the players will help spur sales of microSD cards, which this player takes, or they just want to keep the retail space on shelves that they earned. Whatever the reason, there is an alternative out there for people who don't want an Apple music player.

The Sansa Clip Zip features 4GB of storage capacity, which can hold about 1,000 songs. You can add more by adding songs to a microSD card (again, sold separately). In addition to playing music, the Clip Zip plays audio podcasts, has an FM radio tuner, and you can record voice memos. They've even added a stopwatch if you use this for running. In fact, fitness seems to be a main feature of the player, as the design includes a nice clip on the back that attaches to a pocket, shirt or running shorts.

The player has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 15 hours, SanDisk says, and it recharges via USB cable with your PC or Mac (the cable is too short for my liking). The UI isn't particularly earth shattering, getting around the different menus through the 1.1-inch color screen doesn't require too many brain cells.

As additional incentive to potential buyers, the package comes with a $10 coupon for music from eMusic (with many tracks at $0.49, that's about 20 or so songs), and there's also a free trial of the Rhapsody music subscription service (included software is optimized for use with the Clip Zip). At $49.99, it's the same price as an iPod Shuffle, with twice the capacity and a bunch of additional features not found on that device. So it looks like SanDisk has filled a need between the 2GB Shuffle and the 8GB iPod nano, which costs $129.

This may not be the music player for someone who's had a music player for five to 10 years or more (the original iPod is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year), but for first-time owners, it's worth a look.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $49.99
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

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