Hands-on with SanDisk's Zune-buster

[intro]It doesn't let you swap tracks wirelessly like the Zune, but SanDisk's new Connect player goes one better by letting your download songs over

The Zune was supposed to mark the glorious beginning of the Wi-Fi MP3 player. Unfortunately, it decided to frustrate the hell out of gadgeteers by only using its powers to let schoolkids swap Akon songs on the bus. Good old SanDisk, though, has stepped out of its shadow promising a truly leftfield feature from its Sansa Connect – useful Wi-Fi.

Hook it up to any free Wi-Fi network, and you can stream internet radio or, even better, download songs from your PlaysForSure subscription service. The web radio stations also offer the option of downloading songs – unfortunately, they'll cost $2.50 a pop.

The Connect makes a good step towards making Wi-Fi a covetable feature, but it probably won't be the player that brings it to the masses. The antenna look lets it down in the design stakes (it's a poor relative of the e200 series) and there's no confirmation yet of a UK release after it hits the US on March 15th for $250.