I Don't Need No iPod Nano: It's the Sansa Clip (with Rockbox) for Me

I'm always interested in staying at the forefront of technology--as long as it makes sense, is reasonably affordable, and fits somewhere into my life. This usually comes in the form of being the first in line for a new Apple tablet or perhaps adopting brand new gadgets far before they hit their prime, if ever.

One notable exception, however, is the world of MP3 players. Being a self-professed Apple guy and iDevice fan, you'd think my primary music player of choice would be an iPod--but you'd be thinking wrong.

It's a Sansa Clip.

What's a Sansa Clip?

Sandisk, the maker of Sansa products, is one of the foremost "please, ANYTHING but an iPod" MP3 manufacturers out there, and are known for making a quality product. The Clip is no exception.

It's small, durable, cheap, and packed with features such as a built-in FM tuner, adjustable equalizer, and so on. It even comes with decent headphones.

10 Reasons the Sansa Clip is Better Than an iPod

  1. It's super cheap. Right now, you can get the newer version, the Clip+, for generally between $35-50, shipped, depending on the amount of storage you want. An 8GB clip is around $50 shipped right now--and in comparison, an 8GB iPod nano is $150. Three times the price.
  2. It has an awesome display. Sure, you could get an iPod shuffle 2GB for $50, but why, when you don't even have a screen to use? And, as far as MP3 players go that don't have touchscreens or video, the OLED screen on the Clip is top notch--highly visible and legible.
  3. It has expandable storage. This is a rarity in small MP3 players--expandable storage. It has a microSD card slot so you can theoretically have unlimited amounts of music on the go, rather than being bound by the limits of the internal storage.
  4. It's light and very durable. You don't have to treat the Clip with kid gloves. Feel free to drop it, bring it to the gym, and so on. It's up to the task.
  5. Did I mention it's really cheap? It's one of the best values on the market, period.
  6. It supports WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC right out of the box. For those with alternative encoding tastes.
  7. It sounds fantastic. For some reason, at least to me, it sounds way better than the iPod through headphones. Might be due to the EQ settings or the sound output. Or maybe it's all in my head. But, for a cheap little player, it produces some great quality audio--even from the stock giveaway headphones.
  8. It's easy to use in the gym. Touchscreens are cool, no doubt. But, in the gym, I find the Clip's easily accessed front panel buttons are great for switching songs and accessing the menus, rather than dragging a sweaty, dirty finger across a touchscreen.
  9. It stands out. Everybody has an iPod. Why not do something different?
  10. You don't have to use iTunes. Possibly one of the best reasons on this list. You are not required to screw around with syncing the device to certain machines. Simply plug it in and drag and drop music to it. Done. No hassle, no bulky music management programs, no waiting for syncs to complete.

Not convinced? 

The Clip Gets Better with Rockbox

Rockbox is an open source firmware replacement that has specific builds for the Sansa Clip. Essentially, it changes the menus, features, and abilities of the Clip to make it even better. You'll have access to an expanded EQ calibration system to really dial in the sound, better organization features (e.g., playlist management, play by folders, and so on) as well as multiple themes and numerous other features.

How to Install Rockbox on your Sansa Clip or Clip+

It's easier than you think.

Simply head to http://www.rockbox.org/, download the desktop installer for your operating system, plug in your Clip or Clip+, and run the software.

It will automatically install Rockbox on your device, and the next time you boot it, it will boot into Rockbox. You'll need the Sansa Clip firmware appropriate for your device to do this, however, and Rockbox won't provide it--Sansa support should have what you need.

I want one!

Ok, then let's go shopping. Seriously, I've been using the Clip for a few years now, 5-6 days a week minimum at the gym, and it's still chugging right along like the day I bought it--and it was a refurb, to boot. You can't beat this tenacious little MP3 player on value, style, or convenience.

Comparison Shop and Buy Your Sansa Clip

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I can tell you from experience, you CANNOT SWEAT on the Sansa Clip. As soon as moisture hits it and finds a way inside -- and it need not be much, a mere drop of sweat will do it -- the device will stop working and will not turn on, charge, nothing. If you plug it into the USB of your computer, you may get nothing, you may get "generic storage volume" in the device manager, but you won't be able to do anything with it, it won't read the contents, you can't format it -- nothing. After it sits for a few days it may start working again -- but then what do you use in the meantime? I agree, it's a great little mp3 player and I'm on my second one. First one lasted for years. Second one was bought a couple months ago and unfortunately, a drop of sweat must have hit it yesterday and it's been dead ever since. Why don't they make these things waterproof???? Anyway, it's a great mp3 player but not as moisture safe as what you wrote indicates.

Good point... moisture and electronics never mix. I made a small edit to take that part out, probably got too carried away with the "sweat on it" comment :) Although, I haven't found moisture to be a problem... yet.

Yea, my Clip is still dead as a doornail. I even sat it out on my deck in the sun yesterday for awhile thinking that might help. I have contacted Sansa for a warranty replacement since this one was just bought two months ago. In the meantime, I went out and bought another one to use -- I'm one of those people who cannot work out unless I'm plugged into some tunes. I figured I'll just have two of them here so when I sweat on one and it stops working, I'll be able to switch right over to another. There is not another MP3 player on the market that I would give a second look at -- and believe me when I say I tried them all! iPods are way too pricey and the Nano doesn't even have a display. I really prefer the convenience of a clip (a good strong clip) versus having to put on an arm band or to have something dangling down over my neck and I haven't found another MP3 player that clips like the Sansa Clip. Depending on what I'm doing (arms, abs, cardio) I switch playlists and the Clip's clip makes it easily accessible, easy to read, and quick to reprogram. The only drawback is the design that allows a drop of sweat to penetrate into the inside so easily.


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