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.
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.
It’s not a gimmick — the new iPod shuffle will actually talk to you. It will announce the name of the song and the artist, but even more importantly, it will announce and let you choose playlists. This is a wonderful feature for this least expensive iPod. Because the shuffles don’t have a screen, up until now, all you could do is “shuffle” your music. That is, have the music tracks played in random order.
However, this new shuffle lets you choose to play a playlist. That means you can put together lists of certain types of music in iTunes and choose which list you will play on your shuffle. You can make a collection of music for exercise, for walking, for relaxing, or for just about anything you choose. This makes the shuffle ultimately more usable.
I took an in-depth look at the shuffle. My full review with photos is posted on Hardware Secrets. For those of you who may not want to do all that reading, I’ll give you a quick summary here.
The new talking shuffle is very, very small. No bigger than a pair of nail nippers, a Bic lighter, or a AAA battery. It’s great for those who don’t want a lot of bulk, but may be problematic for those who lose small items easily.
For such a small device, the sound quality is amazing as is the 4GB storage size. The biggest drawback is that because the controls are on the cable of the ear buds, you must use the hard round Apple ear buds that come with the shuffle. Many of us find these very uncomfortable.
The retail price of the shuffle is $79. The capacity, the sound, and the ability to choose the music you play make it worthwhile. If you want an inexpensive digital music player, and you don’t mind the ear buds, this may be the one for you!
FM transmitters that let you play the audio from your digital music player in the car are nothing new. I have been using one for years. You hook your music player to the transmitter and plug it into the cigarette lighter in your car. (You younger folks may call call the cigarette lighter, the 12 volt accessory outlet.) Then you tune the transmitter and the car radio to the same frequency and voila! You hear the digital music through your car speakers.
Up until now, you the FM transmitters were device specific. So you had to use one made for an iPod with an iPod, or made for a Sansa with a Sansa. If you and your husband had different players, you needed two different transmitters. If you decided to move from an iPod to a Zune, you had to purchase a new transmitter.
This new device by Griffin, has made everything much easier. It is called the iTrip Universal because you can use it with just about any MP3, CD, or cassette player. This magic is made possible because instead of using the proprietary charging port on the device, the iTrip hooks up to the headphone jack. On most devices the headphone jack is a standard 1/8″ , so the iTrip can be used with many different audio devices.
I use both an iPod and a Zune. When I travel i usually listed to the podcasts on my iPod, but occasionally I like to listen to the music on my Zune. So this little device is a godsend for me…. allowing me to use the same FM transmitter for both devices.
This little iTrip device also has what they call SmartScan. You simply press a button and the iTrip will find an open FM frequency to use. Then you tune your car radio to that frequency to hear the audio from you handheld music device. It works like a charm. I used it recently on a 12 hour car trip. When I lost one frequency, I simply pressed the SmartScan button and then set the car radio to the frequency that it found and displayed on the screen. i was able to do this while driving without much distraction at all.
The iTrip has one other nice feature. There is a built-in USB port that you can use to charge your device while it is attached to the iTrip. Again, this worked seamlessly with both my devices. The only drawback is that you have two wires running between the car outlet and the device…one for the iTrip and the other, the charging cable that came with your device. This looks a little messy, but it allowed me to play my music and podcasts for the entire trip.
One of the best things about this iTrip is that if you or someone in your family gets a different type of MP3 player in the future, it will most probably still work with your iTrip. At $49.99, it is competatively prices, and more useful than most transmitters of this type.