SanDisk's Sansa range has long been the underdog in the MP3 fight. Will the big-screen, big-storage View redress the balance?
Famed more for memory than MP3, SanDisk has a battle ahead. Sure, taking on Apple is always going to be tough, but even MP3's relative underachievers – Sony, Microsoft et al – have a much greater brand cachet than these data-meisters.
However, SanDisk has been quietly releasing some fine MP3 players. The Sansa e200 series impressed us on launch, and now the View is poised to perpetuate its successes.
The View has two main selling points. First, it has a big ol' screen (2.4in, to be exact), hence the name; second, it goes up to 32GB – the most capacious Flash memory-based player we've ever seen. The one we're testing is 16GB, but like the others it has a microSDHC card slot for further expansion.
Despite its storage, it's reasonably thin at just 10mm. It looks like a supersized e200 series player, sporting a pleasant rubberised back and glossy black plastic frontage with scratch-resistant coating. Build is impressively creak-free.
The View is quick to start up. Control is provided by a clickable scrolling wheel with context-sensitive blue icons appearing at various points to guide you through the menu. On a Samsung player these ephemeral icons would themselves be buttons, but on the View they're merely benevolent guides leading you to your destination in an intuitive manner.
Another front-mounted button guides you back to the main menu. The device is otherwise unencumbered, except for the power/hold switch on the left side and a microSD port on the right.
Menu not that tasty
So, things seem rather good – until you look at the menu system. It's clear and quick but it's about as inspiring as NHS corrective footwear. This, truly, is the gloss magnolia paint of menu systems.
But it holds a few surprises. As well as the expected photos, music and movie icons, you'll discover a voice recorder and an FM radio. The latter's performance is perfectly serviceable with a strong, if slightly noisy, signal. The ultra-slow tuning method means you'll want to use those presets.
Load some music on to the View via the ever-reliable Windows Media Player and you'll be greeted by decent sound quality with taut bass and clear stereo separation. As always, upgrade the cans.
But music isn't the View's only focus – the 2.4in screen means its substantial memory is crying out for quality video content. Unfortunately the screen isn't quite all it's cracked up to be. The fact that it horizontally reorients each time you set a video rolling doesn't make up for the vertical lines that blight the picture.
Another issue we came across was the View's propensity for crashing. A firmware update improved matters, but it still doesn't seem quite as stable as the trusty iPod.
If you're planning to use the View as a music player, it represents amazing value for money. A £130 player has never had 16GB storage before – normally you'd be lucky to get 8GB for that cash.
Another amazing statistic is battery life. Even if the video quality isn't great, seven hours of it is; 35 hours of music is superior to any of the View's competitors too. Food for thought, especially if you're not fond of remembering to charge stuff.
SanDisk Sansa View 16GB review
The View is a glorious coastline blighted by rain clouds. Not perfect, but with plenty to enjoy