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1,848 of 1,876 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best workout MP3 player avaialble...with some quirks
I am a big old fat geek that recently got into doing...(GASP!)...exercising.

I have many MP3 capable products and reasons why I am very fond of this little one for my new found effort. I have the following list of products and have tried my:

Nexus S (too big and heavy for running, no physical buttons)
iPod touch 4th Gen (Big, expensive at the...
Published on August 30, 2011 by Matthew C Sepersky

versus
702 of 755 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't play Audible -- does now -- and some audiobooks require workarounds
The Sansa Clip Zip sounded like just what I wanted -- a small, inexpensive, clip-on mp3 player to use while I exercise. I was wrong. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise, and despite Sansa's product description the Clip Zip doesn't do that.

When I manually load audiobook mp3 files on the Clip Zip, it classifies them as songs on different albums by one...
Published on September 4, 2011 by M. Herbst


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1,848 of 1,876 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best workout MP3 player avaialble...with some quirks, August 30, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a big old fat geek that recently got into doing...(GASP!)...exercising.

I have many MP3 capable products and reasons why I am very fond of this little one for my new found effort. I have the following list of products and have tried my:

Nexus S (too big and heavy for running, no physical buttons)
iPod touch 4th Gen (Big, expensive at the storage size i wanted and no buttons for music controls)
iPod Nano 4thGen (little, has a clip, but why the hell can't they include buttons?)
iPod shuffle (not enough storage and I don't want to mix in my metal songs from lifting weights into my up beat running songs...)

Likes:
The clip Zip sounds great, is very small, has a clip and has physical buttons.

It fits every need i want. The bonus is the MicroSD slot, I can not stress this enough. Skip the 8GB version and get the 4GB and pair it with a 16 or 32GB card. Bam 20-36GB of storage, insanely small and still clocks in under $100.

FLAC support.

Low rez color screen does what it needs to. Won't knock people over but tells you whats playing with album art.

As for the other areas, the stop watch works like a stop watch...It keeps time and does splits. Not a huge thing and if you are using a polar watch or at a gym, the machine you are on will do just as well and be more convenient. In a pinch it works.

The FM radio works fine. I live in a rural area, so my station choices are limited. From my experience, it works just fine if you are in an area with good recption.

Dislikes:
*UPDATE* MM works on updated firmware...still broken on stock firmware. Drag and drop also works, so you have that going for you.

General gripe: The included headphones are perfect for giving to people you hate. You can use them, i guess, if you want to torture yourself, but like any MP3 player, Apple or otherwise, get some better phones...your ears and your music will appreciate it.

Considering you would need to pay twice as much for an iPod with fewer features, no physical buttons and no storage expansion, just to run in a hampster wheel, save your scratch and get this guy. You will be glad you did, as it looks good, sounds good and does a it in a small package that just screams to be used in your fitness routine.

Update of an update: A new firmware patch was released, make sure to update your new Clip Zip or you will experience the "Static Blast" between some of your songs...not fun, but it has been addressed, so make sure to update right away.
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532 of 562 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip--the SanDisk Sansa Clip line further popularized for all, August 29, 2011
By 
mikerman (Redwood City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
The pros:

-- all the benefits of the Clip+: great sound; small; microSD card support; FM radio (with record capability); recorder; gapless play; optional folder navigation; multiple formats support (mp3, wma, ogg vorbis, flac); file drag-and-drop capability; ad hoc playlist creation; cute and appealing

-- new: aac file support for DRM-free aac format files; small color screen with album art display; time-of-day indication; "sports mode" with timer and lap time; fast alphabet scrolling in lists; menu customizability; enhanced contemporary feel and, perhaps, sturdiness; improved microSD card fit; improved EQ

The limited cons:

-- internal memory maxes out at 8GB; limited what's playing screen information; underlying folder art can make screen readability harder; missing some play-all options; for some users: battery life remains rated at 15 hours; no video capability; greater functionality could be provided to the user (could be handled in future firmware upgrades)

The Clip Zip, the latest in the SanDisk Sansa Clip line, is firmly committed to the Clip line's proven success: a small, cute and attractive, easy-to-use player with great sound. Not much more can be said about the sound: SanDisk got it right with the original Clip and wisely has not tinkered with that, keeping the Clip line at the top of the audio player field. With one exception: while the Clip Zip's EQ options sound improved to my ears, they still can sound harsh--as a general matter, best to leave the EQ options alone.

Physically, the Clip Zip is only a trifle larger than its predecessor, in its long dimension. As before, the body is an attractive, sturdy 2-piece plastic shell that angles out, with a large, permanently attached, sturdy plastic clip occupying its back. The one-piece directional pad on the front of the Clip Zip has been reduced in size to the bottom third of the player's face, with a thin, rectangular select button in its center--some larger-fingered users may have to exercise some care. An inset postage stamp-sized screen occupies the top half of the face of the player. Available in a variety of pleasing colors, my player is an attractive platinum color with a silver-colored directional pad and silver volume rocker and power switches at the left and top sides. The headphone jack remains on the top right side of the player, with a microSD card slot below that, at the bottom; an inserted microSD card now sits totally flush with the player, helping to avoid any inadvertent ejection (although this could make removing the card a trifle more difficult for some). The Clip Zip adopts the micro USB standard for its data and power port at the top left of the player, and comes with a handy short USB/micro USB cable.

In the end, the Clip Zip has a perhaps slightly more contemporary, and sturdy, feel than before, including with its modernized screen graphics and opening and closing exploding screen logo. SanDisk includes with the player a pair of its standard earbud headphones, which many users like--I swap them out for audiophile in-ear phones that complement the player's well-tuned sound.

Beyond these basics, the Clip Zip, like the earlier Clip+, includes microSD card support, making it possible to increase the player's storage five-fold from its maximum 8GB internal storage to a total of 40GB, with a 32GB microSD card. Amazing, for something so small; microSD card slots should be standard in all audio players. All content nicely is seamlessly merged in the Clip Zip's database, or separately can be accessed by folder, as on a computer. The Clip Zip also includes a well-functioning FM radio, with presets and recording capability; new, the display automatically shows the currently-selected radio station's call letters. As before, the Clip Zip has a recorder; gapless play between files--a necessity for live performance recordings; simple drag-and-drop file transfer capability as well as compatibility with music players and aggregators like Windows Media Player; and ad hoc playlist creation (limited to a current, temporary playlist). The Clip Zip also continues Replaygain support to equalize volume between files, and speed control (slow, normal, fast) for podcasts and audiobooks (but, unfortunately, without pitch adjustment, which would be a welcome addition).

With this pedigree in hand, the Clip Zip then takes off. Firmly inviting iTunes users in, the Clip Zip now is compatible with DRM-free aac files (the iTunes standard), in addition to, as before, mp3, wma, protected wma, ogg vorbis and flac formats; iTunes users no longer need convert their aac files (hurting it in the process) to mp3 format. Reflecting the visual age, the Clip Zip trades in the mostly monochrome, text-oriented small screen of its predecessors for a full (albeit postage stamp-sized), well-functioning color screen with album art display and muted album art backgrounds; where album art is not available, the Clip Zip substitutes varying tasteful designs rather than a dry, static picture (no more pictures of a music note for album art-less files). And then, perhaps listening to its audience's earlier suggestions, SanDisk adds in the time-of-day to the player's what's playing screen (many thanks!); a "sports mode" with timer and lap time; fast alphabetical scrolling for content lists--very welcome for those users with lots of content; and the (limited) ability to customize the Clip Zip's top menu to show or exclude function categories (Music, Radio, Books, Voice, Card, Sport).

Users of earlier Clip players will find the operation of the Clip Zip familiar, and largely instinctual. Newcomers will adapt in minutes.

All of this is done in an evolutionary manner, still within the Clip lineage; this is not a new player line. Some users will be disappointed by the 8GB internal memory ceiling; 16GB and 32GB models would be appreciated at this point in time--as well as beyond that for us jukebox users. The player's battery remains rated at 15-hours, typically enough for a full day, but some users would like more; the battery is not user replaceable, given the player's size (some users would prefer otherwise). And there is no video capability (although this only would be minimally useful, given the small screen--but it still would be welcome).

Seemingly as a result of the adoption of album art display, some informational functionality has been lessened on the Clip Zip's what's playing screen: there is no current track number and total tracks information; the current song/file time position is only indicated by a progress bar--there are no elapsed or remaining time indicators; and some of the on-screen information can be a bit harder to see, depending on underlying album art. Also, for some reason, a play-all option, apart from in shuffled mode, has gone missing from most of the playback options--album aficionados will be limited to choosing 1 album at a time or creating playlists. These issues are important for many users--perhaps (hopefully) SanDisk will consider them for future firmware upgrades. (Speaking of which: how about a separate time screen with a clock face, with a few style options?) And the database hindrance from earlier Clip models remains: when files are added to or removed from the microSD card or the card is removed and replaced, the Clip Zip needs to refresh its database, which can take many minutes, depending on the size of the card's contents, during which the player cannot otherwise be used.

In the end, despite some limitations (some of which could be addressed in the future), the Clip Zip is an attractive successor in the Clip line, with enhanced functionality especially of note for those with a library of aac files and for those wanting album art or timing capabilities.

9-12-11 UPDATE as to Audible compatibility with the Clip Zip:

Apparently, people have been finding it impossible to transfer Audible audiobooks to the Clip Zip. In trying myself, I found the same thing--frustrating! In following up, it turns out that Audible needs to update its Audible Manager software, used to transfer Audible audiobooks, etc. to a device, and is working on it. In the meanwhile, see the comments section below for a couple of easy ways to transfer Audible content to the Clip Zip: simple drag-and-drop/copy-and-paste; or using Windows Media Player. In fact, personally, I actually prefer using the drag-and-drop method to having to fire up the Audible Manager just to transfer content over--simpler.
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157 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Player for the Price, April 3, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Let me start off with the bottom line. Buy this player. Period.

Ok,with that out of the way let me tell you why. I am a complete tech geek. I built my own computer AND server and have the usual assortment of laptops, mobile phones, netbooks, and other assorted tech items. I decided I wanted a compact music player because there are times I don't want to use my mobile phone as a music player. Sometimes I want something really small and light. With my tech background my standards were pretty high for what I wanted out of an MP3 player and of everything I looked at, including the various iPods, this was the ONLY player that met all my criteria.

PROs: Super small and light. In fact, if it had been any smaller it would have been TOO small. One complaint some people have with the newest generation iPod is that it's so small they have a hard time manipulating the controls. The Clip Zip has actual buttons you can press which makes control very easy. And don't worry about accidentally hitting a button and screwing up your music. If you tap the power button on top it locks all the buttons except the volume control so that won't happen.

Has a small screen so you can actually select what you want to hear and displays album art if you have it installed.

All the usual music selection options. You can search by artist, album, song, genera, or even by folder or playlist.

SD CARD SLOT!!! This was the most important feature to me. It will take up to a 32 GB MicroSD card. 32 Gigs. Do you understand how much music will fit on that? I have every CD I own installed to an SD card, over 7500 songs, and it only takes 18.5 GB using Windows Media format. Even better, when you pop in an SD card the player takes only a few seconds to scan it and update its internal database. So even if you have 50,000 songs you could just copy them all to a couple of different SD cards and switch them in and out. There are only a small handful of players on the market with this feature and it gives you AMAZING flexibility in using your player. Want to just cram a ton of music on there? Go for it. Want to use a lossless, high quality format like FLAC so your music sounds perfect but don't want to be stuck with only a handful of songs on your player? No problem, grab a few cards and take as much as you like.

When you first get a blank card install it in the player and go to "system settings". Chose "format" and select "external card". The player will format your card for you and install a folder titled "MUSIC" on it. Just drag and drop any music folders you have saved on your computer here and install it in your player. The player reads the card, organizes the files, and you're ready to listen to music.

File Options. It accepts an amazingly wide range of file formats. MP3, WMA, Flac, even the various iTunes formats.

Built in FM radio. Less important these days but still a nice option to have sometimes. And it even does autoscan for stations.

SANSA Updater. If you go to the Sandisk website to the clip zip page you can download their installer. First, it upgrades the firmware on the player. DO THAT. But more important it also installs a small updater program. When you connect your player it pops open and gives you different options including syncing with different folders or just dragging music onto your player. You can use it to create playlists right on the player. Or, if you already have playlists on your windows media player you can sync with those instead.

CONs: Nothing is perfect and this is no exception. First, it is a very light plastic player. If you step on it or sit on it you WILL break it. Duh.

It seems to have a problems with songs recorded in iTunes format. Checking on line it has to do with the way iTunes tags certain songs. A few years ago iTunes adjusted the way they tag songs based on if they were DRM protected. I had a mix of old and new songs in my iTunes folder and if I tried to install them the player would hang up. Deleting the music from the player solved the problem. There is no such problem with ANY windows based format. Personally, I have seen this as yet another problem with Apple being not quite compatible with everything else and not a player problem.

Slow file transfer. Dragging music onto your player is kinda slow. Not a huge deal since you are unlikely to do it very often. It's even less of a big deal because you can take the SD card out and copy music directly to the card, then just pop it back in. In truth, even burning directly to an SD card can take a while if you have a lot of music. I copied 12 GB at once at it took almost an hour. But again, how often are you going to need to do that?

CONCLUSION: The bottom line here is this is an amazingly good MP3 player. Is it perfect? No, obviously not. But there are a lot of players on the market with fewer options for a lot more money. I spent several days researching every player on the market and the Clip Zip has the best combination of options at the best price, hands down.
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702 of 755 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't play Audible -- does now -- and some audiobooks require workarounds, September 4, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip 4GB MP3 Player, Blue With Full-Color Display, MicroSDHC Card Slot and Stopwatch- SDMX22-004G-A57B (Electronics)
The Sansa Clip Zip sounded like just what I wanted -- a small, inexpensive, clip-on mp3 player to use while I exercise. I was wrong. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise, and despite Sansa's product description the Clip Zip doesn't do that.

When I manually load audiobook mp3 files on the Clip Zip, it classifies them as songs on different albums by one artist. If I select "artist" it plays all the 'track #1s' in sequence and then all the 'track #2s', etc. If I choose "album" it plays that set of files but then I have to search around for the next cryptically-named "album" in the book. That works, sort of, but who wants to stop exercising to fiddle around with an mp3 player for 10 minutes searching for the next section of a book?

When I use Windows Media Player to make a playlist of an audiobook's tracks and then sync them with the Sansa, the process fails -- no playlist is on the Sansa and the book is organized exactly as it was using drag-and-drop.

Same thing happens with iTunes, except iTunes itself crashes half the time too.

Audible.com books? Sorry, the audible format is not supported.

If you want to listen to music on a cheap mp3 player, buy the Clip Zip. If you want to play an audiobook, forget about it -- it's useless.

Addendum:
Several people have offered comments and work-arounds that have been very helpful. First of all, the problem with Audible compatibility apparently belongs to Audible.com, not SanDisk. Second, Windows Media Player does work with the Clip Zip. Third, even without built-in Audible support, you can manually add Audible books to the Clip Zip.

I've added one star to my rating. It's OK as it is now and when Audible.com (an Amazon subsidiary, BTW) changes the Audible Manager it should move up to "pretty good" rating -- actually a "good for the price" rating.

Second addendum (December 15, 2011):
1) I'm told that Audible.com now supports this device.
2) There's a workaround for the problem I had with playing mp3 audiobooks. Both Andy Sexton and John R. Ridley came up with the workaround and posted it in the comments to this review. Quoting Mr. Ridley: "If you put audiobooks into the audiobook folder, or set the genre in the MP3 tags as "AUDIOBOOK" the Clip Zip will handle them properly, with proper resume points and no need to make playlists or anything." Thank you Andy and John!

Third addendum (April 26, 2013)
Apparently here are workarounds for the mp3 file order problem that I experienced.
Fred Langa with WindowsSecrets.com says: "There are other tricks and workarounds, too, that enthusiasts have developed for copying and playing audiobook chapters, MP3s, or other media files in a specific order. For example, see the AnandTech forum thread, 'Tell Windows the order in which to copy files?' ([...] or the MurrayMoffatt.com article, 'Sort MP3 files on MP3 player' ([...]"
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92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Dig It, October 18, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this little guy to replace a 6th Gen iPad Nano. My main complaints about the Nano:

1. No buttons, difficult to work with it when you are running or working out. Difficult to pause when a co-worker arrives at your desk.
2. I'm a Linux guy. The 6th gen iPod nano is not compatible with any Linux drivers. Will not work with gtk-pod. Running a VM just for an iPod is a drag.
3. You're stuck with the storage size you buy.

Don't get me wrong, I really did like the Nano, but for my usage patterns it was not ideal. The Zip Clip takes care of the above problems and then some.

1. Buttons are easy to find and navigate, even when you are not using your eyes.
2. You can load it just using your raw MP3's or MTP mode using Rhythmbox on Linux, and lots of other music managers on other platforms.
3. Stick a microSD card in it and bam, you now have a 36 GB portable music player.
4. Bonus, the Zip Clip has a custom EQ mode as well as presets, so you can make your music sound just the way you want.
5. Bonus, the Zip Clip supports the leveling encoded in your MP3's or albums. Yes, the iPod has sound check but that's all secret voodoo stuff and only works with their own files.

The size is a bit bigger than the nano but it's made of plastic and is nearly the same weight (Zip Clip is 25 grams, nano is 20.) I clip it on my watchband when I'm working out. It also dangles from my lanyard when I'm working. My RSA fob and badge weigh way more than the Zip Clip.

I'm really happy with this thing, it does exactly what I want it to do. Dealing with the iPod was becoming rather frustrating to a non-Apple guy and I find that the Zip Clip has a couple added features that make it work and sound better than the iPod. Me like.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There will always be a place for the clip, September 2, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
While the smartphone replaces most pmps and mp3 players, would you want to drop your 500-700 dollar phone while running or at the gym and risk breaking it? Enter the Clip Zip. For a mere 100 dollars you can have a 36gb mp3 (4gb + 32gb microsd card) player that is the size of a book of matches, and has amazing sound quality. The improvements over the clip+ include a color screen for album art, support for your aac files, and alphabetical browsing. You can either drag and drop files directly onto the player, or use third party software (I prefer media monkey.) The only con is battery life, but you will still get around 9-12hrs of playback if you are not listening to flac files. Bottom line, if you workout, run, cycle, lift weights or are just an active music listener, the clip zip is a must.

Pros:
Portability
Sound Quality
Expandable Memory
Does not tie you down to specific software
Supports flac, wav, mp3, aac.
Price

Cons:
Battery Life could be better
Included headphones definitely do not do the player justice.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No warranty at all !!!, May 1, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
To be honest, I have to say that this product has quality sound, good size and weight BUT it has a weak mini USB port '
It only last 2 months of regular usage ...
I tried to make the warranty valid and here is what I got:

Hi good morning,
I need to send my SanDisk for repair ... can you help me ?
Thanks,
Rubén Anuar .'.

Dear Ruben,
Thanks for emailing SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product.
I understand that you player is broken and not working.
We really apologize for the inconvenience, SanDisk does not provide any repair services or replacement parts for Sansa players. We only replace the product if they are not functional. We just want to know how did it break.
Please provide the following information to register the product:
1. Your Phone Number, Exact Model and Capacity of your Player?
2. Product code written on the Sansa player (Please provide all the codes written on the Sansa player)
3. Your complete physical address ( No P.O. Box please )
4. From where did you purchase this product?
5. Exact or approximate Date of Purchase of the product in the format of MM/DD/YYYY
6. Is there any R or Refurb logo on the player?

1.- (XXX) XXX XXXX, Clip Zip 4G
2.- BH1111CFEK-4GB
3.- XXXX XXXXX 79907 El Paso, Tx.
4.- I bought it @ Amazon.com
5.- The exact day was: February 15, 2012
6.-There's no R logo on the player
Thanks and have a good weekend,
Rubén Anuar .'.

Dear Ruben,
Thanks for emailing SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product.
We appreciate your continued response and we will be glad to assist you again. Please provide the following information in order to isolate the issue and to assist you better:
- How did the port break on the Sansa Player?
- Was the port on the player overstressed in any manner?
- Was the Player fell from a height?
- Is there any other sign of physical damage on the player?

- How did the port break on the Sansa Player?
I connected it and I felt it rare ... I disconnected it and reconnected it again and I noticed that it was misaligned but it charged it full ...
Then I used it until next charged need it ... I tried to connected it again but I couldn't because the port was loose ... after a couple of tries, the port fall off ...
- Was the port on the player overstressed in any manner?
No, just regular plug in and out ... I have like 5 other products that I use the same USB charger cable and they are just fine ...
- Was the Player fell from a height?
No, I am very careful with ALL my electronics
- Is there any other sign of physical damage on the player?
No, is just the connector ...
I actually send you pictures of the mp3, you can corroborate that information
Rubén Anuar .'.

Dear Ruben,
Thanks for emailing SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product.
We appreciate your continued response and we will be glad to assist you again. However, after reviewing the pictures provided by you about the Sansa Player, we have concluded that this is a physical damage to the player and physical damages are not covered under SanDisk warranty policy. Therefore, we would not be able to replace the player for you.
In case you want to purchase a new Sansa Player from our online store, please click on the link given below:
- Sansa Players:
[...]
If you wish to purchase any one of our Sansa Players from our online store, then you can avail a 10% discount on your purchase. You can use the promo code: X998W to avail this discount while placing your order. This promo code is case sensitive.

I'm an Engineer and I have been working in validation of products for several years ...
I know there are different test to ensure performance for a few years of regular usage ...
This mp3 player should survive to thousands of plug-ins and outs ...
But it's ok, I just wanted to let you know the weaknesses of your product ... in fact I have the responsibility to share this story with other costumers at Amazon ...
Thanks for your valuable support,
Rubén Anuar .'.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very simple to use, which is exactly what I wanted..., October 12, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip 4GB MP3 Player, Blue With Full-Color Display, MicroSDHC Card Slot and Stopwatch- SDMX22-004G-A57B (Electronics)
I bought this about a month ago for my mother, for her 70th birthday. She has a treadmill that she walks on daily, and found those sessions quite boring, so my sister suggested an MP3 player. Mom is definitely not the type to get any use out of something as big and expensive as an iPod, and there's no way she'd *ever* understand the iTunes software anyway... We wanted something less expensive yet still decent quality and easy to use. This SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip fit the bill precisely.

I ripped Mom's favorite CD's to her computer, downloaded the songs onto the Clip, and spent less than 10 minutes showing her how to use it. And believe me she's NOT a technically-inclined person. She uses it every single day, and has had absolutely no problems whatsoever finding the song(s) she wants to listen to, or putting in in Shuffle-mode if she just wants to listen to random songs while doing her daily walk, or listening to the radio if one of her programs is on. Zero problems with it, and she's had me rip even more of her CD's to it so she can have a larger selection of music to listen to.

Is it the highest-quality music-reprodution out there? No. But it's more than good enough for anyone to use during a workout, which probably isn't the best acoustical environment anyway, so there really shouldn't be much complaining about the sound-quality, I would think.

Its memory-expansion slot means that you can add 16GB or 32GB to it if you ever run out of room -- and that's a LOT of music right there. I definitely consider that to be a big plus! Such a tiny player, and potentially so much storage space -- really wonderful that they put the expansion slot in there.

So, in summary, I believe that this device is absolutely perfect for its intended use, and it's a bonus that it's easy enough to use so that a 70-year-old technophobe can actually enjoy it immensely. I definitely recommend this to anyone who's looking for a simple, inexpensive, easy-to-use, yet expandable MP3 player. Good job, SanDisk!!
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not an iPod replacement!, October 13, 2011
By 
Chebacco "Jim" (Massachusetts, USA) - See all my reviews
The SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip is a great digital music player. It's sound quality can be first class. It's size couldn't be much smaller. The controls are easy to use and include physical buttons that you can operate by feel. Up to 40 GB of space is available for songs when an external micro SD card is added to the CZ. The CZ can play many sound formats including AAC.

A lot of purchasers are buying the CZ as a low cost iPod to run their iTunes songs. The reviews here and at other sites are full of people having problems with their CZs when they try to play their AAC music. These problems come mostly from loading music into the CZ that contains copy protection software. Years ago as computers evolved, the music industry became concerned that computers could read and make perfect copies of music CDs. So the CD manufacturers began hiding anti-copying software in the CD's music. This is called Digital Rights Management or DRM for short. In order for computer software to be able to play and copy DRM CDs, the software had to play by the music industry's rules and agree to limit copying of these CDs. This is one of the functions of iTunes and Microsoft's Media Player. When iTunes loads DRM music into an iPod during the SYNC process, it transfers decoding keys with the music and the iPod knows how to use these keys to play the music. ITunes keeps track of how many copies are made and where the copies go. The number of copies is limited. In addition to DRM in CDs, at one time, the Apple store sold all online music with DRM built in, at the music industry's insistence, but since early 2009, all Apple music is DRM free. Apple does imbed your name in the music you buy today, like a watermark, so that any copies that you pass around can be traced back to you. The CZ Does not "SYNC" to iTunes and is not programmed to use DRM keys. If you install DRM music into the CZ, it will lock up when it finds the DRM music during the Reindex procedure. It is easy to drag and drop AAC music from iTunes, either from the iTunes window or from the song files themselves from their folders. But only iTunes can transfer the keys needed to play the music.

CD music that has DRM, does not comply with the COMPACT DISC standard. IF there is no DRM present, a CD will display the COMPACT DISC logo on the CD and on the packaging. If you don't see this logo, the CD's music will likely contain DRM and cause CZ playability problems. Of 4500 songs loaded into my iTunes from my CDs, I found two albums that did not contain DRM. Only these two albums would play in my CZ (rev 17 software). The last 30 CDs I purchased, all contain DRM software and cause the CZ to lock up. So beware that the CZ is not an iPod substitute. It can not unlock DRM music. Most of your music will likely contain DRM software. You can get your DRM iTunes AAC music into your CZ by converting to lower quality MP3s, using digital to analog to digital conversion, and by using illegal methods, but all may take a lot of time. If all your music was purchased online from Apple since early 2009, you are in luck and all your music should load into the CZ. Note that some DRM music will load into the CZ's internal memory but not into external memory cards, so don't be too quick to call your microSD card bad. Also many other online music sellers still use DRM.

If your CZ has locked up due to DRM software, you need to remove the infected music. 1. Hold down the CZ power button for 15 seconds. This resets the CZ and leaves it in the off state. Don't press the power button or the CZ will crash again. Instead: 2. Connect the CZ while it is off, to your computer's USB port and delete the DRM music from the CZ after the CZ shows up as a drive. When you disconnect your cleaned CZ from your computer, the CZ will be working normally again.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does everything I want from an MP3 player for exercising, November 18, 2011
By 
Lenny (FREMONT, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
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My previous player, the Sansa Clip+, died after slightly over a year of extensive use and abuse. I was disappointed at the lack of longevity, but thought I'd give Sansa another try.

I have a number of requirements for an MP3 player:

1. Good battery life
2. Good sound quality
3. Sufficient storage (or ability to expand with external memory)
4. No custom software required for non DRM material (meaning USB Mass Storage Class support)
5. Audible support
6. Inexpensive

The obvious comparison is to the iPod Nano (not Shuffle, since that didn't have a display). The Nano is more expensive, has a better screen and build quality, but the main reason I didn't consider it seriously is because it requires iTunes.

First, Audible support is working perfectly. Mine came with the latest firmware (as of 11/17/2011) and I activated and uploaded audiobooks to it using the Audible software on Windows. The only part I stumbled over is that they're under "Books" and not "Music" like the Clip+.

Startup / shutdown seems a few seconds slower than with the Clip+.

Color display for album art is nice to have, but hardly essential. The color display is not as bright and crisp as a good LCD display. I've only used it for a few hours (for Audible) and once it got the album art mixed up - displayed the album art of one of the included music tracks when playing back my audiobook. Strange, but no big deal.

It hanged on me once when starting up and reloading new content. Not a good sign. Will keep an eye on it. The "15 second power button press" shut it down.

Physically the unit is slightly larger than the Clip+. Buttons are in slightly different locations but functions essentially unchanged. It now has a micro USB port instead of mini USB. A micro USB cable is included, as well as a pair of earbuds that promptly went into my gym bag as "backup earbuds" since I already have a couple of much better IEMs.

The main menu is customizable - you can disable any functions (like stopwatch, for example) if you don't use them.

I bought the 4GB model because of the price difference - $20 for an extra 4GB - doesn't make much sense. It means that I can only have a maximum of 36GB (4 + 32) instead of 40GB, but I can live with that. On my Clip+, I have a total of 16GB, and never really felt the need to have more storage as long as I can connect to a computer once every 2 weeks or so. You can, of course, carry multiple microSD cards around.

Overall, I'm happy with this unit. I'll update my review if I encounter any issues using it.
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