I didn't mention this here before, but a couple of weeks ago I purchased a SanDisk Sansa e280 from NewEgg. I'd long been pining for a "disk-less" mP3 player for my car (which actually only has a cassette player, if you can believe that), so I'd researched various solutions over the last couple of months.
I considered following the crowd of sheep and willingly get slaughtered by Apple's marketing prowess by getting an iPod, but I like exploring alternative solutions. Besides the very high price of admission, I didn't like a lot of what I'd read (both expert and user reviews). Specifically, it alarmed me that iPod batteries are not user-replaceable. I also don't want to support Apple's draconian policies vis-a-vis DRM and proprietary software/interfaces.
Similar accusations could be leveled against the Microsoft Zune, so I eschewed that option as well.
I'd read too many horror stories about the Creative Zen (mainly reliability issues), but liked the Samsung T-series (specifically the T10). However, the price was just a little to rich for my budget, so I read up on the SanDisk Sansa e-series.
I love the Sansa e-series for its compact size, the ability to just drag and drop songs/albums/playlists with either WinAmp or Windows Media Player 11 (I use WinAmp almost exclusively now), and the price, most of all. Although it loses on a GB per dollar scale to even Apple's iPods, the actual price ($120.00 plus shipping) is most attractive. If it's just for listening to music on the go or to plug into my car's cassette player's adapter, it's a clear winner, in my opinion. I know I don't have 80GB+ of mP3s in my entire collection, anyway, so all that surplus capacity would be going to waste. The Sansa e280 (8GB) fit my particular needs best.
Unfortunately, I made a mistake in uploading some songs onto the device (I think; I'm giving Sansa the benefit of the doubt on this point) and FUBARed the device. I made a call to Sansa's Customer Service department, and after a rather comprehensive battery of tests and troubleshooting steps, the representative recommended I request an RMA with the vendor. I put in a request with NewEgg, and they took care of me.
About a week after sending the broken Sansa e280 in for repair/replacement, a brand-new one showed up at my work. This time, before using it, I researched the device even more exhaustively and read up on how best to use it. I eventually got enough confidence to trust this machine; I charged the battery up to full, and loaded one album onto it (the soundtrack to the film "August Rush") using WinAmp.
Wonder of wonders, the operation was a complete success this time! I then proceeded to load several more albums onto the device.
That night I slept listening to my music with headphones on.
The provided ear buds, surprisingly, work superbly and are very comfortable. The audio output, though, isn't as good as a good set of headphones, but for ear buds they were much better than anything else I've ever used.
Moreover, it works superbly when plugged into my car cassette player adapter.
Maybe the first Sansa e280 had a defect out of the box, or maybe I just broke it accidentally; but I dearly wanted this purchase to work as it fit my cheapskate needs so well. I really love how easy it is to use, and I think it looks pretty boss as well with its iPod-esque thumbwheel and bright LED screen. Audio-wise it sounds good enough for me (it's impossible for me to say just how good it is because of the lack of experience in comparing it against similar products).
Sometimes the best things in life come at a very low cost. I lucked out with the e280.
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