As expected from a device dubbed as the World’s smallest MP3 player, this thing is really tiny. It is literally a cube a little less than 1″ on any side. I always like to give the good news first, so I will say that for such a small device the sound is truly amazing. Now for the bad news.
Who doesn’t like a freebie? And this one is fun.
Just head over to your local Starbucks and grab a small card called “Pick of the Week.” You will find these cards on the Starbucks counter near the straws, sugar, and creamer. On the card you will find instructions for downloading the free song from iTunes and a download code. Songs include the type of music that you hear in Starbucks – jazz, independent artists, guitar music, etc. If you visit every week, you can accumulate quite a collection of free music.
Besides songs, these cards also offer free apps, TV shows, book samples and other content from the iTunes store.
You can also bring your laptop or other device with you to Starbucks and connect to the Starbucks Wi-Fi where you can download the Pick of the Week from the Entertainment section.
If you have wanted to buy a portable music player, but were put off by the price, the Sansa Fuze+ may be your answer. The prices for the Fuze+ start at just $89. The Fuze+ is the newest version of the SanDisk Fuze line of players. It has some great features — especially the ability to play a variety of different formats. This allows you to drag your music right out of iTunes into the player. In fact, this is the most full-functioned MP3 player that I have ever reviewed. It can even play FM radio and record your voice and/or a radio show. It comes in great colors. The only drawback is an erratic touchpad that doesn’t always give you the proper response to your touch. If you can live with that, it’s a winner!
The Bottom Line:
The Fuze+ wins the prize for the music player with the most functionality at an affordable price. It includes an FM radio with the ability to record radio, a voice recorder, a photo viewer, good video playback, a MicroSD card slot for expansion, the ability to play slotRadio cards, good battery life, and the ability to play a wide range of formats (including MP3,FLAC, AAC, and OGG to name just a few).
All of this functionality comes at an excellent price. As we write this, an 8GB iPod Nano is selling for $149 while the 8GB Fuze+ costs only $89. The Fuze+ has similar audio quality to the iPod, but it also has a larger screen, video playback, more audio settings, removable storage capabilities, an FM radio, and voice recording. It even displays photos with better accuracy than the Nano.
While the interface is excellent, the biggest drawback of the Fuze+ is the erratic touch panel. It simply doesn’t respond consistently. After a few weeks of use, we got somewhat used to it, but still were sometimes annoyed while using it.
The ability to use slotRadio card should not be overlooked. You can purchase a slotRadio card that contains 1,000 songs for $40. It is an excellent way to get music into the player without ever having to use the computer or spend time downloading songs.
The Fuze+ delivers solid quality and great functionality at a very affordable price. If you can live with its erratic touchpad, it is a bargain. If SanDisk can make the touchpad more consistently responsive, it will have a real iPod killer in this product.
You can read my more detailed review with pictures at HardwareSecrets.com.
The 8GB Sansa Fuze+ is currently on sale at Best Buy online for $79.99. Click the “BUY” link below to purchase.
Once you have your entire music collection in a digital form, you don’t want to play around with records, tapes, or CDs anymore. You just want to listen to your music. Of course you can do that on the computer or on an iPod or other portable digital music player. But sometimes you want really good quality sound for your listening pleasure at home. That’s where the Sonos Multi-Room Music System comes in. The Sonos S5 player is a fairly small device, but it has 5 built-in speakers so it sounds great. If you add a $99 ZonePlayer and the Sonos will work with your wireless router allowing you to move it anywhere in the house….or you can buy an S5 for every room in the house. With a ZonePlayer attached to your wireless router, each S5 Player will work with your wireless network. At $399, the Sonos S5 is not cheap, but you get a lot of sound for your money. For the most part, setup is easy.
Although the Sonos controller is great, it is pretty pricey at $349. Luckily you can also use a free app on the iPhone or iPod touch to choose your music. You can also control the music right from your PC. No matter which option you choose, if you have more than one Sonos player, you can play different music in each room and you can control the volume of each room separately. If you are having a party, you can play the same music throughout the house. In the “good old days” you had to invest in a special sound system for each room and put wiring in the walls to accomplish the same thing.
The Sonos S5 is one of the best choices for a whole-house, high performance, wireless digital music system. Setup and implementation are easy. The S5 ZonePlayer has excellent sound quality. The $399 S5 ZonePlayer gives you a lot of sound and ease of use for your money. Although there are a few incompatible routers and you may have to adjust any software firewall that you may have, everything just plain “works”.
If you can afford one for every room of your home, your home will be brimming over with music. Yet, if you only want to purchase one, with the addition of a ZoneBridge, you can move the S5 Player to any location in your home at any time for music where and when you need it. You can use its alarm function to wake up to or use its sleep function to turn off automatically.
Being able to control the system from your iPhone or iPod Touch is a nice additional feature that can save you some money.
You can real a more detailed review with pictures at HardwareSecrets.com.
I love the Nintendo DS, so it was with great anticipation that I opened the new Nintendo DSi. The size and shape were very similar to the old DS, but Nintendo has added two cameras, support for a removable storage card, and added audio capabilities. This new hand-held gaming device has a great new interface that is easier to use than the old one. And it now supports WPA, so you can use it with your home wireless network. Unfortunately you still cannot play online with others on a WPA encrypted network.
The new DSi plays all of the DS games, so I didn’t have to give up the Nintendogs game that I love to play with my grandchildren. We each have a DS with a Nintendog game so we can send gifts to each other’s dogs and our dogs can visit each other. It’s great fun. I simply substituted the new DSi for my old DS and everything worked as before.
Playing with the cameras on the DSi was great fun. Not only can you take pictures, but you can easily add frames, stars, kisses, and other nifty objects. You can also manipulate the photos in fun ways….make a nose bigger, make a mouth turn down, etc. Yes, for grown-ups it can get old quickly, but it is still provides an occasional smile.
The DSi also lets you record your own voice and manipulate it just as you do the photos.
There are not yet a lot of games out that take advantage of the DSi’s new cameras and microphone. I can’t wait for them to start appearing, as they should be really fun. The DSi is currently $30 more than the DS. I think it is worth the price.
Here are my pros and cons:
You can read my full 7-page review with pictures at HardwareSecrets.