REVIEWED: Sandisk Sansa e260

Sandisk isn’t a name you’re likely to immediately associate with MP3 players. You’re more likely to think, ‘mmm, solid-state storage’ and other such d

Sandisk isn’t a name you’re likely to immediately associate with MP3 players. You’re more likely to think, ‘mmm, solid-state storage’ and other such dirty things. But the memory king has been chipping away at the MP3 block for a little while, and has fashioned something rather good: the e260.

The e260 is Sandisk’s Nano – a small, sleek, black thing with a metal back and circular interface. The e200 series is available in three configurations – 2GB, 4GB and stonking 6GB. We took a long, hard look at the 4GB version.

The first thing to concern ourselves with is the e260’s interface. It can’t match the elegant simplicity of the iPod, but then again, nothing can. It’s fast to react to commands, is intuitive and takes just a couple of minutes to get to grips with. Best of all, the scroll wheel lights up blue each time a button is pressed. Nice one.

A brief spin around the UI shows that the e260 can record voice, and also play your photos and video. All major formats can be converted for playback by the included software, and the excellent 1.8in 220x176 screen does a good, albeit small, job of playing them back.

It cuts the aural mustard too, providing a slightly bass-light but detail-heavy and dynamic mix. Couple it with a pair of Sennheiser PX300 and it will impress all but the most heretical audiophile.

As a Windows-centric device, the e260 is fully compatible with music subscription services like Napster To Go. A £15-a-month sub gives you two million tracks to choose from to fill your e260 up with – beat that, Apple.

Other nice features include a MicroSD memory card slot for memory expansion and transferral of music files. Bag the 6GB version and you could potentially ramp it up to 8GB, all skip-free solid-state. That’s twice the capacity of the largest Nano.

Also worthy of note is the Liquidmetal case back – scratch-resistant, and along with the tough polycarbonate front, very attractive. Finally, the battery life: a very respectable (and realistic) 20 hours. The battery is replaceable, too.

Our criticisms are fairly few and far between. It’s a good deal thicker and heavier than the Nano, and doesn’t quite pack the sonic potency of the very best players on the market. Also, it’s pretty but not as attractive as its Apple nemesis.

All in all, we’re impressed. We doubt Apple is quaking in its gold-plated, fur-lined boots over the e260’s existence, but it’s a brilliant option for anyone not already tied to iTunes.