Damn you, Indecision!

Stay Tuned: Sandisk Sansa Connect

Update: After you read this entry, check out my “mind map” reviews for the Sansa Connect and Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription service, as well as the final thoughts post about the Sansa Connect that I just posted today (4/16/07).

Hey, Kids! I recently purchased a Sandisk Sansa Connect, a portable audio player that’s WiFi-enabled and can stream internet radio stations as well as play mp3s/WMAs and view photos from Flickr or on the device. It’s a pretty interesting device, and I plan on writing up a review for it soon, after I’ve had a few days to play around with it. You can check out my unboxing pictures on Flickr.

sansaconnect.jpg

A few quick notes:

1. Probably the most important point: the Connect device does not just connect to unprotected, open WiFi spots like all of the literature implies. You can connect to a WEP-protected WiFi access point. This was a concern of mine, since I couldn’t find any mention online anywhere about this. I wasn’t about to leave my WiFi open just to use this device!

2. The player gets its net content from Yahoo Music Unlimited. So if you have a subscription to this service you can fill the Connect player with songs from YMU. What’s cool is that you can download YMU songs directly to the player over WiFi, without needing to sync with your PC. The internet radio stations that Connect streams are also from the Yahoo music service. As far as I can tell so far, you can’t input your own online radio station links.

3. Connecting to Flickr is pretty cool. You can view the public photos chosen for the Explore page, or view pictures from your own photostream, if you have a Flickr account. You can view slideshows from either the Explore gallery or your photostream, and play music in the background. I compared the colors of the display on the Connect to my iMac monitor for the Explore gallery, and they are very close, which is impressive. Very cool if you’re a Flickr junkie. πŸ™‚

4. Yahoo Music Jukebox is the software used to sync music to the Connect. As far as I know at the moment, you can’t just drag and drop music to the device, but I’m going to explore that further. So far the Yahoo Music Jukebox software has been rather sluggish. Syncing the subscription music (or even podcasts from my laptop) is a slow process. I think part of this has to do with my unfamiliarity with how the subscription service works (I eventually figured out to change the settings so that when I mark an album from Yahoo Music Unlimited to add to “My Music”, it automatically downloads the songs instead of just bookmarking them), so I will play around with it more. But so far, even just copying a playlist of podcasts to the Connect seems a lot slower than syncing my iPod with iTunes. And there’s no integrated podcatching feature in the Yahoo Music Jukebox software.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review, along with menu walkthroughs (and perhaps some videos), coming soon.

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10 responses

  1. doug

    Only WEP? No WPA? Does it have bookmarking? I was about to get one today…

    April 6, 2007 at 4:56 pm

  2. Hi, Doug. Thanks for reading.

    I’m not sure about WPA; I haven’t tried it, and I probably won’t, since I had to switch back to WEP on my network due to device issues. I will check the user documentation for that, though.

    As for bookmarking, it doesn’t seem to have that feature. I specifically started playing one of the podcasts in my playlist, paused it, and then played some other music before going back to the podcast, and it didn’t save my place. As far as I can tell at the moment, there aren’t any settings for bookmarking. This is a fairly big annoyance for me because I mainly listen to podcasts that are longer than 30 mins, so if I get bored with a podcast and decide to listen music, I’ll lose my place. πŸ˜› This is a feature that I really love on iPods. Even the bookmarks are automatically synced to iTunes when I sync my iPod. If you’re a big podcast or audio book listener and depend a lot on bookmarking, this may not be the player for you.

    So far I haven’t found any other portable music players that have a bookmarking feature like this. Honestly there are a lot of things I find annoying and boring about iPods, but when it comes to how easily I can download and sync my podcasts to my iPod, I am just too lazy to deal with other players. πŸ™‚ However, the functionality of the WiFi and music subscription support on the Sansa Connect is pretty compelling. Being able to listen to online streaming radio stations and download the songs I like or get mixes that are like the current song I listen to is a very interesting feature for a music player. I’m going to play around with it some more and try to use it as my main music player for a while and see how it works out.

    April 6, 2007 at 7:15 pm

  3. doug

    Just picked mine up. We’ll see if it gets returned πŸ˜‰ The Creative mp3 players have a nice bookmarking feature. If this baby works with Napster, I’ll take the WiFi and live w/o bookmarks. I’m with you. I mostly listen to podcasts. My solution currently is a Palm TX, but controlling while driving is dangerous…HAHAHA… I’ll be posting my results on my blog at http://offbe.at BTW I’m your friend “Todd Gak” on twitter.

    April 6, 2007 at 8:31 pm

  4. doug

    It’s going back. Because:
    -WiFi only supports Yahoo
    -Playing Yahoo music is awkward (u mark songs to download, then u play)
    -Scrollwheel is too sensitive
    -No bookmark
    -Too big

    April 6, 2007 at 11:19 pm

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  6. And what kind of battery life do you get for this WiFi goodness?

    April 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm

  7. Another Q: What are those holes on the back? Air vent? Built-in speaker?

    April 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm

  8. Unofficially, when I was streaming a LAUNCHcast station last Saturday evening, I think it lasted around a couple hours before I saw that the battery indicator seemed pretty low. At that point I plugged it in so the stream wouldn’t die abruptly. I wasn’t really paying close attention to how long it really lasted because I was busy playing Wii Sports. πŸ˜€ I can try it out again later on when I’m paying closer attention.

    I think for WiFi streaming that seems reasonable, for a device this small. However, yesterday when I was listening to a bunch of podcasts at work (perhaps around 3 to 4 hours worth), it seemed like the battery was fading faster than I would expect my iPod nano’s battery to wear down. Again, that’s just my unscientific impression. Its performance yesterday would lead me to believe that you probably have to recharge this every night.

    As for the holes on the back, that’s the external speaker. It is a nice touch, and has decent sound, for a small, mono speaker. I have been a big proponent for external speakers on portable audio devices because I think it’s a lot more convenient than speaker docks. Since I mainly listen to podcasts, high-fidelity sound is not so important in this case.

    I did hook up the Sansa Connect to the back of my Logitech speaker dock for my iPod, and it sounded great. Looked clunky, but sounded good.

    April 10, 2007 at 3:30 pm

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