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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sansa Fuze+ isn't an iPod and that's the point



Have you heard of the Sansa Fuze+ mp3 player? Maybe not, because all we hear is iPod, iPod, iPod. Well the Fuze+ is an excellent mp3 player and the fact that it's not an iPod is one of it's best features.


As an mp3 player it has many of the same features as iPods and other brands. It plays music, audio books, podcasts and videos. You can record and store voice memos with the built-in microphone and it's also an FM radio with play, pause and record. All of this is housed in a very small and attractive package with a 2.4-inch color LCD screen that's sharp and bright. Device control is through the "invisible touch" buttons just below the screen. Light presses and finger swipes are all you need to navigate the interface. The only real buttons are for power and volume.

OK, that's the basic stuff. Now here's the feature that sets it apart from the iPod line. slotRadio. Using tiny, pre-loaded slotRadio cards you can carry a library of 1,000 songs on a key chain. The cards, available in different genres featuring various artists, are $40 for 1,000 songs. Cards with 500 songs are $30. No downloads, no syncing, no account. Just pop in the card and you're rocking. Each card comes with a small case designed to go on a key ring so your music library is always handy.

Time for a math quiz! If you bought 1,000 songs on iTunes how much would it cost? Some songs are $.99 and some are $1.29, so it's safe to say you would spend over $1K to get 1,000 songs. That's a difference of about $960! Now granted, on iTunes you have a lot more flexibility and can build a library one song at a time if you so wish. If you want to have a lot of music in your library for a small amount of money, however, this slotRadio thing is a great answer.

The Fuze+ sounds great in both mp3 and FM radio mode. The rechargeable battery is rated for 24 hours when playing music and 5 hours when playing videos.

Album cover art looks great on the screen and brightly-lit photos and videos do too, although some of the sample photos looked over-saturated. Photos and videos with lots of shadows look pretty muddy and kind of blue but they're acceptable. The Fuze+ would not be my first choice if the main goal was to view photos and video.

With a price of $80 for the 4GB model and infinite expandability with microSDHC cards microsdhc_32gb_product_204x163.jpg(you can create your own library cards too), the Fuze+ is a bargain. The slotRadio cards can get you into a huge library of tunes for a small amount of money. If you're shopping for an mp3 player for someone who isn't insisting on an iPod, make sure you give this one a good look.



[Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 5:42pm]


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