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Old 08-24-2011, 09:58 AM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: east central NY state
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Default Clip Zip review (updated 9/6)

So it is time for SanDisk to unveil the 3rd generation of the vaunted Clip line (formerly Clip, then Clip+)....the "Clip Zip". Well, first things first, I'm not a fan of the name, and I'm sure I won't be the only one that feels that way. But what were they going to call it? Clip++, Clip+ Jr.? I'm sure this will be endlessly debated, but hey, it's out of our hands. However, this thing has a legacy to live up to. Let's see if it measures up, shall we?

The most obvious change at first glance is the display screen, which is close to double the size of the Clip+ screen. This device has a color display, which will be welcomed by those who can't live without their album art. I personally didn't mind the smaller screen that was on the Clip+, but this new one is easier to read the text on. Just don't expect hi-res images to look very good.

My only potential reservation would be the effect that a bigger screen can have on battery life (which is claimed to be the same as the previous model.) There have always been people that complained about the battery life of the various Clips, but I have always been of the opinion that I didn't want the player to get any bigger and heavier for increased battery life. I believe that the device's portability is one of its greatest assets. The time is now displayed on the screen, available in either the 12-hour or 24-hour format. This was something I personally never cared about, the time on the screen, but there have been users asking for this, so it is good to see the company listening.

If you've used a Clip+, the menus will be quick to navigate through and figure out, but there are a couple of surprises that you don't see right away. The categories appear in lowercase on the menu, which has a font that appears childlike to me, but is easy to appears reminiscent of the Fuze+, from what I have seen of the Fuze+ in web videos.

The categories in the menu are:

Music - The ever-popular folder browse mode is still there, but one thing missing is time elapsed/remaining during playback. They are present during podcast playback, so they should be here as well. Another new addition is alphabet browsing. If one scrolls through a music list, be it artist, album, or song, then the first letter appears on the screen, to show you how far you have scrolled through your list. Nice, yes? Well, it gets better. Double-tap the center button, and the letter or number comes up and you can short-cut through the library without having to scroll all the way through it. This will be especially handy for those who load up 32GB Micro SDHC cards in their Clip Zips. (sadly, internal memory is limited still to either 4GB or 8GB) Also, in addition to MP3, WMA, secure WMA (DRM stuff), FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis, the ClipZip now supports AAC files that are not saddled with DRM. So file extension M4A, yes but M4P, no.

Radio -RDS info is supported. So some FM station names show up, and perhaps in some areas with bigger stations, song titles might too.

Books - for audiobooks and podcasts. I would personally prefer that they be in separate sub-menus because I do podcasts but not audiobooks, but that's just me.

Voice - record, playback, delete. Simple.

Card - If you want to navigate just from the card, there is a folder browse mode in the music menu with separate submenus for internal and external memory. I am really not sure why this is here....seems redundant.

Sport- a stopwatch which can do lap times too. This could be useful to many who use the player while exercising.

Settings- all the usual Sansa stuff is here, but there are two new additions in the system looping, which wraps it around if you've scrolled to the end (the Clip+ did this already by default, but now you can turn it off if you so desire); and Customize- you can turn off the main menu items you don't wish to have displayed in the main menu, so as not to have to scroll past them. Brilliant!

The only things I liked about Creative players were this feature and the alphabet browsing, and now they are here in this unfortunately-named Sansa.

The Replay Gain still works as advertised, keeping all properly RG-scanned-and-tagged tunes to a fairly constant volume level, which is invaluable when using shuffle mode, especially if you have music on your player that ranges from older recordings to today's "loudness war" recordings. There are standard EQ presets, most of which I have never found useful (and this applies to all brands of players I've tried) . The Custom EQ gives you 5 bands to adjust the sound. When you adjust one of the sliders, the player volume drops a hair, which happened with the prior models, but besides that the custom EQ works acceptably well. It's not Rockbox-caliber, but I've used worse. If your headphones are truly well-balanced and you don't need to use any EQ, then you'll truly see how well this player performs.

I mentioned the screen before as the first and most obvious visual difference, but it is not the only one. The buttons all appear to be metallic and the layout on the front in particular has evolved slightly. Interestingly on the front of the player, it now says "SanDisk", as opposed to "Sansa", which appears on the clip on the back. Another welcome improvement is that the Micro SDHC card is pretty much flush with the exterior when inserted, unlike the Clip+ where it stuck out a little.
Clip+ view....

And Clip Zip view....

The player appears to be just a tiny bit bigger than the old one...a little thinner, but longer and wider, which you see also in the shot of the back of the two players earlier in this post.

One change that will have potentially mixed reviews is the new USB cable which is micro-USB, as opposed to the Clip+ mini-USB. A lot of us already have multiple devices with Mini-USB cables, so continuing that would have been nice for those of us in the US, at least....but Micro-USB has become a standard overseas, and it is making its way here on various devices, such as my Nook Simple Touch.

It was a welcome surprise for me to find out the two devices shared a cable, since the cable supplied with the Clip series players is still way too short, unless you are plugging it into a laptop. Thankfully, the one with my Nook is nice and long so I am mostly using that one.

I've been battling an ear infection, so I haven't been able to do much back to back listening with the Clip+, but I think they are pretty close, if not identical sounding.

As opposed to the universally reviled oft-criticized Fuze+ of last year, this Clip Zip was instead updated in a more conservative manner, and I think for the most part it is a job well done. My only real disappointment was that it doesn't have more capacity available than the previous model.

Battery life results found here
and here and here

Database refresh time test results....

Update: found out today the Zip supports album art up to a maximum filesize of 100KB. So no hi-res stuff here, but on a screen this small, that's not a surprise.
iPod Touch 5G 32GB, Touch 4G 32GB, Clip Sport 8GB. Rockbox-> Clip Zip 4GB, iPod Nano 2G 4GB, iPod 5.5G 80GB
2012 Nexus 7 32GB, Asus MeMoPad 8 16+64GB, LG Optimus G Pro, Nokia Lumia 900 and Lumia 520

Last edited by Marvin the Martian; 06-11-2012 at 12:57 AM. Reason: update

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clip zip, sandisk, sdxc compatibilty

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