updated 10:30 am EDT, Thu March 13, 2008
Sansa Fuze Hands-on
The SanDisk Sansa Fuze is at our offices and already being prepared for a full test. In the meantime, we've already collected first impressions of the player and can already say that the current iPod nano (and Zune 4/8) may have some genuine competition. The Fuze is perhaps the most direct spin-off of the Apple design we've seen to date, but it improves on the formula: the 1.9-inch screen is only slightly smaller than the 2-inch iPod but translates to a considerably narrower design which is easy to hold. The scroll wheel is essentially the same as for the larger View and is more precise than the smaller iPod's, if not quite as efficient at scrolling quickly through a long track list.
Also carried over from the View is a welcome improvement on a design trait that both Apple and Microsoft have overlooked: the back. Unlike the scratch-prone chrome of the iPod or the more resistant but slippery aluminum of the Zune, the Fuze has a rubberized back that seems to improve the grip and scratch resistance without giving the impression of a low-quality player. On the other hand, the glossy front may show dust or significant scratches more significantly than either of its immediate rivals.
We hope to have a full review soon, including a test of the interface and the player's support for non-Windows computers -- the Fuze is one of the few full-featured media players that can accept drag-and-drop content loading regardless of the operating system.