The portable micro audio player market is abuzz with a variety of players built around the direct plug and play USB connection feature. However the Sansa Express by SanDisk is far from being another cookie cutter design and has its own spin in this race.
The highly portable and lightweight Sansa Express probably got its name from the bullet train, which symbolizes speed and a no-hassle experience - you just pack and go! The best part of this player (and a world's first for its class) is that it has an expandable memory feature made possible with the integrated microSD card slot. For users totally in sync with the conveniences of modern technology, they would absolutely love this feature, as expandable memory and long battery life are some of the most sought after aspects of micro audio players.
Talking about battery life, we tested the player with the volume set to a decent and reasonable volume, and activated the shuffle and repeat functions. The outcome was commendable. Stated by Sansa to last around 15 hours of continuous play, the player was still going strong well after 18 hours. One can safely afford to go on long road trips, a short military training stint, several gym sessions or even use it in the comfort of your own home without lugging a charger. At the same time, thanks to the lengthy operational uptime, one can capitalize on the Sansa Express' strengths and bring along multiple microSD cards horded with soothing music of their choice (and this is in addition to the device's own 1GB of internal memory for which you can upload files to it via the direct USB connection).
With regards to the sound quality, the Sansa Express has proved itself. As our test MP3 collection is sampled at 192Kb/s and accompanied with a CrossRoads Mylarone X3 earphones, the player works wonders. Unlike some of the bundled earphones like that of Samsung or Apple, the one supplied by SanDisk disappoints badly. However when paired with a good set of earphones like we did, the player's output is good.
The Sansa Express is not quite done yet as it has more up its sleeves. With a customized playlist, FM tuner, voice and FM recording functions, SanDisk has made a micro audio player that has no equivalent in the market.
Just like there are two sides to a coin, and two sides to the truth, there are two sides to the Sansa Express. While we have praised it thus far, let's take a look at the flip side.
To start off, while the unit is put in charge, there is no indication that the battery has reached full charge. The display screen might also seem too tiny with only four lines of text packed in a 1.1 inch LCD. While the player is small, there is still much unused space on the screen that we feel could be better utilized. Therefore, people who are shortsighted might want to grab their glasses when utilizing the player. Additionally, the player sports a high glossed exterior, which attracts many fingerprints easily and you end up constantly wiping the front face for better usability. For users expecting an integrated clock display on the player to avoid wearing a watch, unfortunately, it doesn't have this feature. Last but not least, the supplied earphones are not exactly comfortable, nor do they do justice to bring about a decent level of sound quality. On a side note, the lanyard option located on the cheaper side of the player (the cap) is quite unsettling. Weird design indeed.
The Sansa Express is good value for money given its apparent size and functions in comparison to other micro players in the market, i.e. the First Generation iPod Shuffle and even the Samsung U3. The Sansa Express includes a screen though it does not comprise of a clock. And given the apparent size of the player (it is a little thick compared to its competition), the overall sound quality is decent but we wish that the SNR/THD/Amplifier quality could have been a bit better. In overall view, when the full factor set which include the cost, size, battery life, display quality, expandable memory, and overall feature-set is taken into consideration, this is perhaps the ultimate player for mobility and functionality.