SanDisk Sansa e280 8GB Player, sent over the SanDisk Sansa e280 MP3 and WMA player for a small review. The device has 8 GB of storage internally and it also supports microSD cards.

The device is smaller than an iPod Mini, but bigger overall than a Nano. It has a 1.8″ TFT screen, FM radio, a microphone, while it sports USB 2.0 support. The device came to us with its USB cable and earbuds. No documentation or other accessories were included in this white box release. The battery is rechargeable via the USB cable and it manages up to 20 hours in ideal conditions. The e280 has a “record” button on the side, proprietary USB port on the bottom, microSD slot on the other side, and a 3.5mm headphone jack and a “hold” button on the top. There is also a lanyard/wrist-wrap hole near the top.

The device turns on/off with its “power button” below the main wheel menu. This button is also used to go back to home screen if you press it lightly during usage. The wheel button is actually a blue LED wheel navigates fast on long lists of media when turned. I personally found the blue LED incredibly bright, more so than what it was needed as it was overshadowing the look of the LCD. Inside and around the wheel there are buttons that help you navigate or are playback controls.

When booted up, you can select from a scrolling menu the main function: pictures, video, music, audio recording, FM radio, or settings. The device is really easy to use, although some navigation usability is not as good as the iPod’s. More over, if you get back to the music list and you click on the song that’s currently playing, it starts playing back instead of getting you to the “playback screen”. In fact, I found it very difficult to get back to the playback screen after you have wandered around on other parts of the system. It is details like these that show that Sandisk is simply not as good as Apple in designing interfaces.

Nevertheless, the music quality was perfect, and overall this is a usable system. There is a ratings screen, album artwork, EQ and custom EQ, and various ways to sort music. The Pictures menu allowed for background music while enjoying a slideshow, while on the settings you could find screen, language, volume limit and more. The only really unfortunate part on that media player is the video format it accepts: MJPEG in the MOV container. This white box doesn’t come with software so there is no video converter software included, and using free tools to encode in the exact video format that this player supports is a challenge.

Overall, this is a worthy mp3 player. But if you try to use it too much, rather than leaving it playing on the background while you are working or exercise, you might stumble into a few usability issues.

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