on December 15, 2010
Having bought an original Fuze for myself and one for my wife and having convinced two co-workers to buy the original Fuze, you could say I am a fan.
I wanted to buy my father one as a Christmas present and thought it would be nice to pre-load it with old time radio shows (my main use of the original Fuze). I thought that the new Fuze+ would be an improvement, but I was badly mistaken.
First off, the new Fuze+ does not have folders. If you have 1,000 episodes you have to scroll through all of them, as opposed to scrolling through folders that list them by show (i.e., if you have Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Henry Morgan you do not see folders, but rather all of the individual files).
The start up is cruelly slow now.
The user interface is unwieldy and the buttons are overly sensitive. Yes, it looks more like an Apple product, but it does not work as well as a Sansa Fuze (original).
I expected there to be some issues in figuring out a new machine, but the problem with this one is that once you figure it out it is still inferior to the older model. Perhaps I am missing something and it is a wonderful player, but having read the directions (something I did not need to do on the original Fuze) I still found it awful to use.
Do yourself a favor and either wait until they have provided better software for this dog or buy something else...anything else.
I sent mine back and ordered an original Fuze, which is a brilliant product.
on November 5, 2010
As humans, we sometimes tend to personify our gadgets. Having witnessed the phenomenon in others, I'm happy to see I'm not the only one (a psychologist could explain it better, but it probably stems from our post-toddler, invisible friend/stuffed animal days, but no matter). So if this little MP3 player could speak, I reckon it would probably say something like, "Hi there! I know I'm not as full-blooded as an iPod Touch or as sleekly designed as an iPod Nano, but I'll work real hard to make you happy. Honest!"
First, a bit of history: I've owned iPods since late 2003 when I bought a spanking new 15 GB third generation iPod. Back then, smart phones had yet to come of age and if you wanted a high-capacity MP3 player, Apple were just about the only game in town. It helped matters immensely that my iPod was so well constructed since I used it day in, day out for five years until it finally died and I replaced it with a fourth generation iPod Nano. That Nano sure *seemed* solid enough (what with its sleek, anodized aluminum body and all) but a mere year-and-a-half later it fell apart faster than Joan Crawford in a wire hanger factory (see "Mommie Dearest" for an explanation of that analogy). With hopes held high for an amazing sixth generation Nano, I balked at the rather stripped-down feature set and the tiny, nigh-unusable touch screen.
So, off a-shopping I did go.
Since Sony didn't appear to make a Mac-friendly Walkman, I opted to punt, snapping up the newly released Sansa Fuze+ (black, 8BG capacity). I'd known about -- and respected -- Sansa players for years as affordable and worthy iPod competitors, so this seemed the best available option. Whether consciously or not, SanDisk are filling a huge void in the marketplace right now caused by the absence of last year's multi-purpose fifth generation Nano (and as a student, I really, really needed its now long-gone voice recorder feature badly).
To define the negatives of this particular player: as many reviewers have pointed out, the Fuze+'s touch-sensitive interface can be a bit unresponsive at times and over-responsive at others. The GUI isn't anywhere near as intuitive as anything Apple could have designed. Furthermore, the industrial design is rather plain and the plastic is easily scratched (HINT: rub any scratches that appear on plastic with Brasso and a clean, lint-free cloth; after several minutes, it clears them right up -- promise!). That said...
Onto the positives: the sound quality from this thing is amazing -- rich and full! I've run battery tests only to have my jaw hit the floor when power usage on my unit clocked in at a WHOPPING 53 hours for 128 kbps MP3s and 30 hours for 256 kbps AAC files. This in itself is an astonishing discovery, particularly having come from the notoriously power-hungry iPod realm. This little fellow plays video beautifully, although the screen's visual "sweet spot" is at a slightly off-centre angle when watching a movie in Landscape mode. Also, it's got a voice recorder -- a good one -- that uses the unit's incredibly wee, shockingly responsive built-in microphone. While the Fuze+ won't win any beauty contests, it is enough for me to say that it *is* solidly constructed, having already dropped it several times without so much as scratching it (Brasso time!).
I give this player a solid recommendation -- especially (way) over the current iPod Nano -- keeping in mind that it is still quite new and there *are* flaws. However, SanDisk seems to really care about their customers, listening to their concerns and working hard to iron out the kinks. Their Website support forums are a good place to go for advice, especially considering that by buying any new first-generation product, you're essentially signing up to be a Beta tester.
It just comes with the territory, folks.
on December 19, 2010
I am posting a review of the new Sandisk Sansa Fuze+. I have the 8gb model in black. I am going to go into some depth, so if you are looking for a quick opinion, here it is: Excellent player, great price, highly recommended.
If you are willing to read on, I will offer my data and reasoning for the above recommendation.
I have taught computer science for 15 years so I am not a technology novice. I started my experience with MP3 many years ago with a couple of iRiver MP3-CD players because I wanted to be able to rip audio books on multiple cd's down to a single disk. I also made a few music collection disk. When I moved into the mp3 player world I went with an iRiver because I liked their products, and they offered a waterproof case and headphones for wearing while swimming laps. Eventually it wore out and I was on the brink of going with an Ipod Nano when I read a review of the Sansa E200 series here. I bought one and absolutely loved it. I bought Sansa Clips for my kids and have loved them. I accidentally destroyed my E270 by spilling pickle juice on it. I took it apart and discovered that the pickle juice had reacted with something on the circuit board and eaten away the power ribbon cable to the video screen. I could still access the player via computer. Despite my best efforts I could not fix the solder joint.
So, I was in the market for a new player and while leaning toward Sansa I read reviews on all kinds of players. I spend 66% of my time listening to Audiobooks and 33% to music. I definitely wanted at least 8gb, a MicroSd slot and upgradeable firmware and support for Audible and other audiobooks. This quickly winnowed down the field. Basically my choice came down to the new Fuze+ with touch controls, or the older Fuze with tactile controls. I agonized and went back and forth. Eventually after reading reviews I decide to go with the older player, but they were only available online. Also, Amazon, my normal online vendor kept changing the price, one day $89.99, the next day $149, then $79.00, then $135. On impulse I walked into our local Radio Shack (franchise, not company owned) and they had the Fuze+ on sale for $79.99. I asked if I could return it if I did not like the touch controls. They said yes, and I bought it.
It looks beautiful, and feels appropriately weighty. It is slightly bigger than my E270, but maybe a hair thinner. I disagree with those reviewers who say it looked and felt cheap and plasticky. It does pick up fingerprints and smudges easily.
I almost decided to return it immediately, however. Every time I plugged it into my computer (at work) it shut down and the computer would not recognize it. (I wanted to to upgrade firmware immediately). Instead, I went online and went to support chat. There was akmost no wait before someone joined the chat. The person (Marie G) was helpful and knowledgeable, and in short order we determined that the problem was that I was not an Administrator user in Windows XP. When I connected to my laptop, where I was an Admin user, everything worked perfectly, and I upgraded the firmware manually (no net on laptop at work). I was quite pleased and impressed with support.
Sound Quality/ Ear Buds:
I am not an audio snob, but I do recognize the difference between cheap crappy head phones and decent ones. The included buds are perfectly satisfactory for me, much better than some of the cheap ones I have used, and they are the first ear buds I have owned that stay in my ears while walking around. Normally I have to use over the head type phones. I do have an expensive set of noise canceling phones to use when I want extra quality.
This was the deal breaker for me, and I had read a number of reviews where people hated it and I was apprehensive, especially since I have never used a touch screen device. Bottom line is that it works fine for me. Yes, occasionally I overshoot, but its not a huge problem. Sometimes I hit near the dividing line between two functions and get the wrong one, but I am getting the feel for it. I did upgrade to firmware 1.3 right away, and that may have fixed problems from earlier versions. I am perfectly happy with the controls. YMMV. I do miss the ability to pause or next the device while in my pocket, but feel that, for me at least, the other benefits make up for it. I am still getting used to sensitivity, but for having never used a touch device before, I am not having trouble.
I only ever watched one short video on my E270, and may never really use this feature, but I watched the sample video and the picture quality and colors were excellent. I did not notice the viewing angle problem some reviewers mentioned. The screen is a decent size, and if I have a long bus trip with my chess team (I'm a high school coach) I would consider watching a movie on it. Also, it supports several formats natively, including H.264 which my camcorder uses, so I may end up using it.
Everything I would ever use and more. I like that it supports Audible.
It comes with Rhapsody and will sync with most major systems, but I will only ever use Drag and Drop. (Except possibly with downloaded audibooks). The drag and drop was quick and easy.
OK, here there are some issues, but none that I was not able to work around. I have several dozen audiobooks that I ripped from CD's on my computer. I have used tagging software to make sure that they are named and tagged properly so that they will be ordered track by track either by file name or by track name, or title. I used audiobook as GENRE name. This worked perfectly on the E270. No matter how I put them on the FUZE+ it would not recognize Audiobook as a genre, and the files did not appear by artist or album. I tried several ways, I put them in a folder with the title of the book, in a folder called Audiobooks, and just as mp3's in the music folder. No go. When I put them in the Podcast folder they show up and work fine. Slightly annoying, but I can work with it til they address it in an upgrade. One other issue. I pause an Audiobook and then listen to music. When I go back to the Podcast menu it shows the name and album art and the track number I was on. If I start it playing from their, it seems to shuffle, and the previous, next buttons work backwards. If instead of hitting play, I select the 'Podcast" and go in and choose the track it showed, it works fine, but starts at the beginning of the track. Odd, but again, I can live with it, and with all the people asking for more Audiobook support I would guess it will get fixed.
You can navigate by Song, Artist, Genre, Album, All, etc (and except for Audiobook) it recognized several custom genres I had created. It is reading all of my ID3v2 tags and embedded album art perfectly.
Some reviewers have complained of sluggishness. I have 5.5 gb of music and 2 gb of Audiobook files on the player and a small amount of both on a 2gb card and I see no sluggishness. In fact sometimes it scrolls faster than I want and it shoots past. I like how in long lists it pops up a big letter (A,B,C, etc). I am sure with practice I will master it. So far the end to end style of navigation (vs wrapping around, has not bothered me. Once you get the scroll moving fast it does not take long to move up or down a long list. The lock/hold (play/pause) for 3 secs has worked fine for me and it has never unlocked in my pocket. It does integrate the files on the card into the library, with the caveat that Audiobooks/Podcasts have to be in a folder called Podcasts.
There is a small boot up delay when the music database is changed or a new MicroSD card is inserted, but no worse than on my E270, and much better than my old iRiver.
Great price point. Expandibility, sound quality, variety of formats supported, upgradeable firmware, customizable menus, excellent video quality, and for me at least, excellent support w/ online chat.
Smudges easily, minor idiosyncrasies in getting Audiobooks to play.
on November 7, 2010
I got this MP3 player to help get me thru frequent traveling, and lots of running. I found it to be just about everything I wanted. Intuitive when transferring files, good price, nice size, and good features (I especially like the radio). On my most recent trip, I rolled my ankle while running over some broken ground, and the Fuze...took the full force of my fall. If I could change it, I'd make the SCREEN touch-sensitive (and give it a steel-reinforced case?). Sometimes, the touch pad doesn't scroll the way you'd expect. Also, it was sometimes difficult to make it scroll a little (selecting the NEXT song, for example, instead of two songs down on the list). That's the reason for 4 stars, as opposed to 5. But all in all, I was happy with it. I guess the strongest endorsement I could make is that I'm going to replace my broken one with the same model!
on April 22, 2011
After reading through all of the positive and negative reviews for the Fuze+, and noting that most complaints were "navigation-oriented", and seeing recommendations to simply update the firmware to solve the problems, I went ahead and ordered. I'd gotten an original Fuze for my daughter a couple years ago, and she's still happy with it, so "go with what you know".
I don't regret my decision at all. The player has excellent sound, is very solid and sturdy in feel, a convenient size...I honestly don't have any complaints.
I updated the firmware immediately, and find navigation to be simple and reliable. The firmware upgrade appears to have solved any issues with funky navigation using the faux-touchpad controls. I'm having no problems at all getting around, and find the menu system very easy to maneuver.
One note, which also seems to have addressed a few complaints about using the play/pause control to lock the player: the firmware update changes that feature. You now lock and unlock the player via the power button, very easy to do and it seems to be more intuitive.
Even with the included earbuds, the sound quality of this player is outstanding. I am probably going to upgrade to a better set of buds (if anyone reads this and would like to leave recommendations in the comments...?)
Actually, the earbuds that come with the unit are my only complaint, and a minor one. My ears must be smaller than the average bear's, as I find them uncomfortable -- they're a bit too large to fit properly, and one ear is actually painful when wearing them. For someone with average-sized ears, though, I'm sure they would be fine, and the sound is, as stated, surprisingly good.
One aspect of the player I've yet to put to the test is battery life. As of writing this review, so far so good.
All told, I don't regret purchasing the Fuze+ at all. For anyone reading reviews to help make their decision, a simple (and it is simple, "easy peasy", in fact) update of the firmware solves the primary issue people have mentioned in the negative reviews.
on December 22, 2010
I was one of the first customers to purchase a Sansa Fuze+. I admit that I was slightly disappointed, but I kept the player giving Sansa the benefit of the doubt that they would improve all the glitches. Sure enough Sansa has lived up to their dependable name and released a new firmware that is Fantastic!
I read the poor reviews especially about the touch pad, but now I am very impressed what Sansa has accomplished with their value product. The touch pad includes swipe gestures and tap zones. Once you get the hang of this you can glide through the screen interface. The product feels sleek and current.
One unique useful feature is the ability to tap play on any selected item in a list to play immediately. I don't have to filter all the way down to a playlist anymore. If I am in the mood for the Killers, I just highlight the Killers and press play. Wah La
Most of my complaints have been fixed with the latest firmware, v1.32. Please read on.
Touchpad: No longer does the list scroll forever. The accelerated scroll stops on a dime and reverses directions immediately.
Playlists: I can add songs to multiple playlist created in windows or wmp10. When I hear a song I like I just press options and add to my playlist of choice.
Podcasts and Audiobooks bookmarking: Fuze+ has added resume or play from beginning. Podcasts/Audiobook have an auto bookmarking feature.
Podcasts/Audiobook files show up under the Podcasts/Audiobook category no matter where the files are saved. As long as the genre is Podcasts or Audiobooks the file will appear in the correct category.
Sluggish no more: I filled my player with 7 GB of songs and there are no delays. It did take a minute for the player to process the songs, but that was the only a one time rebuild delay.
Locking the device: Just press and hold the play/pause button to lock the device. This is still a little too sensitive, but I read in forum Sansa is fixing this.
The Fuze+ is such a value and packed with features with a sleek touch pad. This player is a step in the right direction and I can only expect more cutting edge value products from Sansa.
on March 30, 2011
I should have read and believed the existing reviews for the Fuze +. My wife has the older style Fuze and we have been pleased with it. . . but the Fuze + is a big minus. The packaging alone is sufficient cause not to buy the item. But after having risked amputation of serveral body parts just trying to liberate it from its clamshell, I was very disappointed with almost everything about it.
The navigation touchpad simply does not work satisfactorily. When it does respond (about 10% of the touches and taps), the response is very, very slow. My unit kept returning on it own to the fm radio menu no matter what else I was doing. I know you can lock the current function, but that that doesn't help if you are trying to do setup or load music and it just keeps going back to fm radio. I would strongly urge anyone to avoid the Fuze + ... and all Sandisk products until they start using a more user friendly package.
on November 7, 2010
My original review was negative, and I have left it below to see how far the product has come. For what it is worth, my "negative" review was the most helpful critical review for a while (but not at the time I provided this update).
As of firmware 02.36.03 I have raised this to a 4-star review. The device is no longer sluggish (read the Sandisk forums for exceptions and solutions to sluggish performance). When listing songs in an album, it still default to reverse alphabetical order for songs that all have the same track # but I discovered MediaMonkey has a script to properly tag the track #s and has provided a workaround for this problem.)
The previous firmware update added bookmarking for podcasts. It's not quite as good as the original Fuze because there is no indication of which podcast you left off on (on the Fuze, once you selected the folder for the podcast you wanted to hear, if there were multiple podcasts in the folder, it would automatically highlight the one you left off on, and if you didn't want that one, then you just move the wheel to the one you do want, but at least you knew where you left off - Fuze+ always automatically highlights the first podcast in the folder and does not give any other indication of which podcast you last listened to - I hope this will be addressed in a future firmware update), but if you find it, it will ask if you want to resume or play from the beginning. The most recent firmware update even added bookmarking for ALL media. This is what I've been hoping for for so long (and the Fuze never had this). If pretty much fixes the mp3 audiobook mess mentioned below (though I would rather they just make audiobooks work like they did on the Fuze), as I can find the audiobook under music instead and still get bookmarking (except my note above about not knowing which file you left off on still applies).
I have decided one more "pro" I left out on the old list, and that's a standardized charging/data port. It's now microUSB rather than the old proprietary format. My phone and MP3 player have the same cords!
It didn't take long for them to adjust the sensitivities so that the player wouldn't accidentally unlock in your pocket, and now they've changed the lock/unlock method to be a single (half second) press of the power button. This is much better and will likely never unlock in your pocket.
After purchasing the Fuze+ the first time and returning it I bought an iPod Touch 6th generation for much, much more money. I used it for 2 weeks, and returned it. A little time passed and I saw that new firmware updates had theoretically improved the Fuze+ so I repurchased. I will be perfectly honest in saying I like the Fuze+ more overall than the iPad. It's a little quirkier and even with the updates the controls take a little getting used to, but I'm getting happier and happier with this product.
The forums on the Sandisk site are a great place to communicate about this device. The developers do seem to listen to the comments people make on the site and base future firmware updates on their comments. With a couple more firmware updates I might be willing to raise this to a 5 star rating.
First I'll get the pros out of the way. The introduction of gapless playback is a warm welcome. I hardly tested this feature though. Additionally, the brighter screen is an improvement over the old fuze. Finally, aac compatibility added is a huge bonus. Oh, and the thing that prompted me to try a new player to begin with: dedicated volume keys. I like this trend, but it's a trend...many/most of the new players have it.
All else falls into a downgrade from the previous models though. There is NO bookmarking feature for audiobooks or podcasts(other than maybe audiobooks from audible.com) and the controls are sluggish. The controls are slow to respond and a couple of times seemed to sense button presses while I wasn't even touching the pad. I tried the "lock keys" feature and put the player in my pocket, but simply walking about managed to unlock the controls again. This is because unlocking only requires that the "play/pause" key be pressed and next a "swipe up" on the touchpad. Both are too sensitive if my pocket managed to unlock it. There also seems to be weirdness with the way it reads tags. I loaded a few mp3 audiobooks on the device. Because they are tagged audiobook it listed them in the audiobook section like usual, but each individual file (the books are separated into chapters) was listed as a "book" instead of giving me book names, then chapter names once I chose the book. Furthermore, I tend to tag things like operas "Act 1, Act 2, Act 3" etc, but just leave the track number blank (or all "1"). On IPOD and the old fuze this was good enough, because if multiple items were listed with the same track number it defaulted to listing them in alphabetical order (ascending.) This fuze+ listed them in DESCENDING alphabetical order. This is not helpful at all, and I find myself asking why they bothered to change so much.
I am actually a fairly big fan of my V1 fuze. I use it daily. It's small and almost perfect for audiobooks. It's the only player I know that properly bookmarks mp3 audiobooks (i.e. not just remembering playback position in a single file the way ipod does it but actually defaulting to the last-played file in the "album" (book) when you select that book, and then prompting you to pick up where you left off in the file or start over. The reason I bought this player was to try to "step up". I wanted a 16gb (though Best Buy didn't have it and I just got the 8gb), and wanted a player with gapless playback and dedicated volume controls. I returned the fuze+ as I feel it does not live up to the first generation fuze.
on March 20, 2011
I owned the previous generation of SanDisk MP=3 Players. A wonderful choice. But I spilled some juice on it and the wheel control froze. So I went on line to Amazon and bought this new model from Beach Camera. The player arrived rather quickly but the devise was in a sealed package that was difficult to open. When I did get it out I plugged it into my computer for charging. And when it was fully charged I went to my Microsoft Media file and downloaded my music library. The transfer was rather easy and I had my entire library of 700 + songs downloadded in a few minutes. I then went on line and downloaded the firmware for this new + model. So far so good. I then went on line to the site with the owners manual and read it carefully. Then it was disaster time. The only music folder I was able to access was "Artists". My older model provided numerous folders including play all, recently added, artist, song, album, favorites, etc. Next the controls are super sensative. Nearly improssible to select the artist you want, as controls are so fast. Then when you find an artist and it plays the song(s). It begins to repeat the songs over and over again. I tried all the controls in vain. It is nearly impossible to get back to the artist listing. In desperation I got out my older SanDisk player and applied WD-40 to the wheel. And it worked. I am in hog heaven to have my old player back. It is the best. As for the new one.... I checked the corespondence from Beach Camera. The flyer alluded to the fact that the unit could be returned by sending back the player and filling out the ENCLOSED return sheet. Guess what. There is no RETURN Sheet. So I am trying to figure out how to get my money back for this piece of JUNK. My advise to anyone is to buy the older Original model and don't buy anything from Beach Camera.
on April 19, 2011
I can't explain how disappointed I was in this updated version of the Sansa Fuze. I had the prior version with the rotating disc. Loved it! It was my favorite mp3 player: easy to use, nice interface, sturdy but sleek design, and it felt great in the hand. When I lost it on a flight, I immediately decided I would get another Fuze. And that's when I stumbled onto this updated version. Come on, an even better Fuze? Sign me up!
Why? Well, first of all, it just felt wrong when holding it. It had ridges that felt uncomfortable from a tactile point of view. This might not sound terrible, but the prior version of Fuze practically melted into your hand with it's ergonomic design, rounded edges and corners, and perfectly balanced weight.
The buttons were also awful. They felt...cheap. As if they were tacked on at the last minute.
But by far the worst aspect of this version of the Fuze was the touch interface. First of all, this interface looks like a plus sign. Well, ok, to use this do I touch the lines? The spaces between the lines? The points? Anything happen in the middle? Can I scroll down like I did with the prior Fuze's wheel? The interface was so unintuitive that it forced me to stop and concentrate on the mp3 player. It sounds trivial, but it's not. Your player should just work like second nature. To stop whatever it is you're doing and focus on this machine to just change a song is ridiculous and is contrary to the "get up and go" aspect of an MP3 player.
But here's the deal-breaker: the touch interface is by far the most excessively sensitive sensor I've ever encountered on any product. Let's say you're listening to a podcast. You're 20 minutes in. You reach to take this out of your pocket and lightly brush the top of the player, or maybe you're carrying it and switch hands. Upon the lightest contact with your hand - I'm talking like 2 skin molecules just thinking about gently bouncing off the player - the Fuze will have the mp3 equivalent of a Defcon 1 reaction and stop the podcast. In effect, this player wants you to stop, concentrate, hit play, and NOT MOVE.
What did I do? I returned it and picked up the prior fuse version. A far superior product, and it was even $10 cheaper.