SanDisk Sansa Clip 8GB MP3 Player Review
By: Michael Phrakaysone


In a world full of people buying into Apple iPod players, it’s hard for other manufacturers to break into the Apple dominated market share.  The iPod brand is a staple across the minds of the everyday consumer.  However, one company looks to eat away in consumers’ minds by offering a worthy competitor to the iPod Shuffle. 

SanDisk, a trusted name in the flash memory industry, looks to bring forth an alternative to the iPod Shuffle by offering an MP3 player that offers matchbox-size, more built-in features such as FM radio and voice recording, all for an affordable price (list price of $79.99US).  Today we review the SanDisk Sansa Clip 8GB MP3 player and see what all the fuss is about.

About SanDisk

“Founded in 1988 by Dr. Eli Harari, an internationally recognized authority on non-volatile memory technology, SanDisk has grown to become the world's largest supplier of innovative flash memory data storage products.

Serving both consumers (with more than 240,000 retail storefronts worldwide) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), SanDisk designs, develops, manufactures and markets flash storage products for a wide variety of electronic systems and digital devices. SanDisk also licenses its technology to a number of other industry-leading companies.

With flash memory's capability for storing large amounts of data in a compact, removable or embedded format, SanDisk's products have helped drive the exponential growth in sales of digital cameras, multi-function mobile phones, USB flash drives, digital audio/video players, and other digital consumer devices.

SanDisk currently has more than 1,100 U.S. patents, more than 600 foreign patents, and more than 1440 patent applications pending in the U.S. SanDisk is the only company, worldwide, that has the rights to both manufacture and sell every major flash card format, including CompactFlash®, SD™, miniSD™, microSD™, MultiMediaCard™, Reduced Size MultiMediaCard (RS-MMC™), Memory Stick PRO™ and related Memory Stick® products, xD-Picture Card™ and USB flash drives.

SanDisk became a publicly traded company (NASDAQ:SNDK) in November 1995, and in 2008 revenues were 3.3 billion. With more than 3,400 employees worldwide, SanDisk is headquartered in Milpitas, California.”

SanDisk Sansa Clip 8GB Product Overview

“The Sansa Clip MP3 player may be small enough to clip on your jeans or your shirt, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t loaded with all things awesome. It comes with a searchable screen, as well as an FM radio, voice recorder, and an insanely long battery life that will let you instantly enjoy more music and more play.”

“For the movers and the shakers who want to shed the baggage of a bigger MP3 player—it’s time to get the skinny on the Sansa® Clip player. Offering five colors to choose from, this lightweight MP3 player delivers major sound for its matchbox size, and storage capacity of up to 2GB*. And with its smart design, you can clip your Sansa® Clip player to your bag, pants or sleeves, allowing you to enjoy all the perks of an MP3—hands-free.”

SanDisk Sansa Clip 8GB Product Features

  • 8GB of space - Keep up to 2,000 (estimate of MP3 files @ 128kbps) songs at the ready wherever you go.
  • CODECS - Plays your MP3, WMA, secure WMA, Audible and (now – with a firmware upgrade) FLAC and OGG formats.
  • Radio - Built-in FM radio tuner with 40 preset channels so you can listen for news and fresh music anytime.
  • Battery Life - Up to 15 hours of play-time with internal rechargeable battery.  Connect via USB cable to your computer for charging or synchronizing.
  • Record - Voice recording capability with built-in microphone so you can record memos, lectures or all those unexpected, mic-worthy moments throughout your day. When you're ready, transfer your files to your PC for listening and sharing.

First Impressions

SanDisk packages the matchbox-size MP3 player inside a compact corrugated packaging with the Sansa Clip being showcased inside a plastic cover.  The product packaging takes on a simple bluish design that doesn’t really offer much information other than icons showcasing its abilities and on the rear side makes this bold claim: ‘The tiny wearable MP3 player with BIG sound!’  I’m going to test and verify that claim later on and see if it does hold true.

SanDisk Sansa Clip

Purchasing the SanDisk Sansa Clip, you will be presented with the following items…

  • Sansa Clip MP3 Player
  • Clip accessory (already attached)
  • USB 2.0 transfer cable
  • SanDisk branded earbuds
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Promotional inserts
  • Software CD

SanDisk includes a nice bundle for the Clip but I would have liked for SanDisk to have included a carrying case for the Clip.  For such a small match-box size MP3 player, it would have been inexpensive to produce and anything really would have been great.

SanDisk branded earbuds are included with the Clip but they are typical at best.  You can do so much better by investing in the in-ear canalphone alternative that I’ve reviewed in the past.  Even the cheapest models will provide better sound quality than typical earbuds.

One of the great things about the SanDisk Sansa Clip is the fact that when connected to the computer, it reads as a typical storage device (able to switch between MTP/MSC protocols) like a flash drive thus allowing you to drag and drop music easily into the Clip without having to be forced into utilizing a program such as iTunes.  I love simplicity. 

Let’s take a look at the Sansa Clip shall we?

The Sansa Clip is offered in multiple capacities with 8GB of internal memory being the highest capacity.  Additionally, the Sansa Clip is offered in five different color choices (sleek black, hot pink, silver, candy apple red and ice blue).

The Sansa Clip I am reviewing today is the sleek black color version.  The MP3 player is constructed entirely of plastic and is visually the best it can be.  It actually looks good.  The plastic enclosure is coated in glossy black paint.  Typical of such glossy products, the Clip attracts fingerprints and dust than if it were matte.  But nonetheless, I am pleased with how well the Sansa Clip looks, flows, and functions.  It’s a no frills design and straight forward with the user having to use the multi-directional pad and enter button to navigate the menus. 

As for the plastic construction and how it would fare in a drop, I’m not sure as the plastic isn’t the hardest or toughest plastic I’ve come across.  There was minor flex if I squeezed the player but it has good strength and should be able to survive a drop without much issue.  Again, if SanDisk were to bundle in a cheap silicone case, that would have helped even further by providing a small level of shock cushion.

The Clip measures only 2.2 x 1.4 x 0.7 inches and can fit in your pocket or clipped on your belt or anything you can find.  It weighs only around .92 ounces so it’s easy to not realize that it’s on you.

SanDisk utilizes a 4-line OLED display and it looks fantastic.  It’s super-bright, easy to read at virtually any angle and just looks magnificent.  The OLED displays blue colored text and it’s easily one of the best displays I’ve come across.  An equally bright blue LED rings around the multi-directional pad and the pad buttons itself is illuminated blue so you can see the buttons at night.  Perfect!

So at the front of the MP3 player we have the OLED screen, home/menu button and multi-directional pad (up/play, left/rewind, right/fast forward/ and down/list with an enter button in the middle,

On the right hand side of the Sansa Clip is where the plastic volume clicker is placed.  And right above is where the 3.5mm headphone jack is located.

On the left hand side of the Sansa Clip is where the mini-USB connector and power on/off slider is placed.  The power on/off slider is also used as a hold function if you were to pull the slider down.  To power on the unit, simply position the slider upwards for two seconds and vice versa to turn the unit off.  I would have liked if SanDisk chose to include or attach a cover for the mini-USB connector.

To the rear of the Sansa Clip is where the belt-clip accessory is already pre-installed.  This clip slides on/off easily if need be.  The SanDisk logo is also present.

How does it perform?  What does it offer?

Turning on the Sansa Clip is easy as sliding up the power button for about two seconds, where then you are presented with a SanDisk logo.  Once this appears, you are presented with language choices for the menus and navigate according with the left, right, up and down buttons. 

The Sansa Clip has four main menus and those are: Music, FM Radio, Voice and Settings.   The music menu is where you can browse through songs by artists, albums, genres, playlists, recordings, audiobooks and more.  Head into the settings menu to tweak your Clip by modifying the equalizer, enabling auto power off and sleep settings, display backlight length, display brightness, and language settings.  The Clips performance is quick when shifting around the menus and never slow at any time.

The Sansa Clip compared to the competition offers a lot.  It includes FM radio and a microphone for voice recording.  Not even the more expensive iPod Touch has FM or voice recording which is really sad.  It’s more about Apple being cheap than anything else.  How could Apple not include FM and voice recording capabilities to begin with?  The radio was invented years back and everyone in the whole world owns one, granted FM radio was invented in 1993, but it costs pennies to produce, likewise for a microphone.  The fact that you can buy a radio or microphone at a dollar store says it all. 

One of the things that I would like for SanDisk to have included with the Sansa Clip would be a clock function.  A small time format in the corner would have been perfect.  A date function would be a bonus.

Another great thing about the Clip is that with the newest firmware update of fw = v02.01.32a, the Clip now has the ability to play FLAC and OGG codecs!  This is simply amazing.  FLAC is a lossless codec and factor in how excellent the Clip sounds, makes for a dreamy combination.  EXCELLENT!

Battery life was good and I found that this review sample could last up to 10-13 hours.

How is the sound quality?

The SanDisk Sansa Clip is without a doubt one of the best sounding MP3 player I’ve heard in a while.  Granted I’ve never heard every MP3 player out there but I’ve used quite a few.  The sound quality is phenomenal and to comprehend how it’s coming out of a MP3 player the size of a matchbox is literally remarkable.  I’ve used a Samsung YP-P2, heard the YP-P3, and those were great sounding units but the Sansa Clip is perfectly balanced straight out of the box.  Don’t even get me started on the iPod Touch or similar iPods, those cannot and do not compare in any way in the sound quality department.  I have an iPod Touch and only would use it for music if I were on the go and didn’t really care about sound quality.  If I sat down in a quiet environment and wanted clean sound quality that allowed me to be immersed into the music, I would use something like the Sansa Clip.  You need not to change any sound settings in the equalizer – it’s that amazing!  The clarity and soundstage that comes from the Clip is unreal and it displays a high level of detail.

The only other MP3 player that could compare to the Sansa Clip, sound quality wise, in my opinion, is the Cowon S9, but that is triple the price of the Sansa Clip.  From my experience, the normal setting on the Clip sounds better than the S9’s normal setting.  It’s only when you tweak the equalizer on the S9 and turn on BBE, that the S9 takes over (not by much) as the leader because you can bring out more detail.  However, the Clip is the purest (if you just want an MP3 player-only device) MP3 player one can purchase.  Add the fact that the Sansa Clip’s street price is extremely affordable, you really can’t go wrong.

As I mentioned about the sound quality being amazing on normal EQ setting, you really do not want to change it.  The developers dialed in the perfect settings in normal out-of-the-box mode.  It gets a little weird because if you were to choose a different preset, the sound quality takes a step backward and ends up sounding less desirable.  No other sound quality preset (dance, rock, classic, etc) sounds better than normal.

I love the tight strong bass, perfect mids and strong highs.  It’s very balanced between these three ranges.  I also love the high sound output to my in-ear canalphones meaning that I do not need to raise the volume on the Sansa Clip very high.  I only use 1-2/4 of the volume and it sounds plenty loud.


I cannot say enough great things on how I feel about the SanDisk Sansa Clip.  It’s one of the best MP3 players you can purchase on the cheap.  If you are looking for excellent sound quality and do not care for additional features like WiFi for example, I can’t really see anything else that provides this type of value. 

Pros and Cons

  • + Excellent sound quality
  • + Matchbox-size footprint
  • + Simple to use
  • + OLED display is perfect
  • + Glossy design looks elegant
  • + As easy as dragging and dropping music
  • - Needs a clock and date function
  • - Sound presets other than normal setting sound less desirable

Check out TestFreaks for more reviews of this product.


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