August 21, 2006 4:24 AM PDT

SanDisk unveils 8GB music player

Flash memory maker SanDisk has released a new MP3 player in its Sansa line and has reduced prices for its players across the board to compete with Apple Computer's flash-based iPod Nano.

SanDisk on Monday released the Sansa e280, an 8GB digital music device that can be expanded to store 10GB of data with a SanDisk 2GB MicroSD card. The device is being offered for $249.

That marks a significant difference in price-to-storage ratio when compared with Apple's 4GB iPod Nano. That iPod model retails for $249, according to Apple's online store. (There is currently no 8GB or 10GB iPod. Apple's player with the next-highest capacity, the 30GB iPod, runs on a hard drive rather than flash and sells for $299.)

Sansa 280

The Sansa players enable people to increase storage capacity and change which songs are kept on the device by inserting different MicroSD cards. SanDisk is a leading manufacturer of flash memory. Its expansion cards currently hold about 500 songs, but greater-capacity cards are planned, according to SanDisk.

While the Sansa line supports Microsoft PlaysForSure and Rhapsody To Go, the device has a nonproprietary digital rights management system and allows any songs in the MP3 and WMA formats to be uploaded to the device.

Other features on SanDisk's MP3 players include a digital FM tuner from which people can record and a built-in microphone that enables the device to act as a voice recorder.

The Sansa's potential success, however, lies not in a feature matchup with the iPod but in SanDisk's strength as a company, according to Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"(SanDisk) gets memory cheaper than anybody, and they have tremendous distribution reach because they have their SD cards everywhere. Because they have a tremendous retail presence already with their memory cards, they can bring these products to those same retailers and get shelf space. And that's a huge advantage," Schadler said. "Three things make a difference: price, quality of the product--which is steadily getting better--and their reach. SanDisk has all those coming together now."

Because of the strong ecosystem surrounding the iPod, said Schadler, there is no release that is going to make a significant dent in Apple's monstrous share of the MP3 market overnight. As the market matures, things will change, but it will be an uphill battle. Music stores will consolidate their efforts around a small group of manufacturers, and a "two-horse race" will eventually develop. SanDisk is in a good position to possibly be that second horse, but Schadler said the release is a sign of SanDisk's "relentlessness" as a company, not a break in the MP3 player market.

SanDisk, which holds the second-largest market share in digital music players behind Apple, also announced significant price changes on its 2GB, 4GB and 6GB digital music players that undercut their iPod capacity-equivalents.

The 2GB Sansa e250 has been reduced to $139 from $179.99, compared with the 2GB iPod Nano's $199 price. The 4GB Sansa e260 for $179 (originally $229.99) and the 6GB Sansa e270 for $219 (originally $279.99) also offer more flash memory for the money than the $249 4GB iPod Nano.

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Sorry, but not good enough
I would've bought a SanDisk, but they don't support AAC, and the scroll wheel is just too small, and it sticks out too far, making the buttons difficult to press. Yeah, I bought a nano 4 gigger.
Posted by Galley (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What makes it really bad
It's the damn scroll wheel that takes a lot of force and even more patience to use accurately.

What really kills it for the Sansa line besides the very, very bad name (Sansa should have stayed as the internal code name) and the scroll wheel that requires major musculature is the lack of audio quality. I keep on reading reviews that complain about the poor audio quality of the Sansa but figured the perspectives were simply subjective statements from self appointed "golden ears" trying to prove their worth and skills to the world. I was so wrong. I borrowed a friends, put in my nice Sony headphones and compared and contrasted the audio output of the Sansa versus the iPod versus the Creative Vision M and found the Sansa to be hands down the worst of the bunch - using uncompressed and compressed audio, FYI.

Kudos to Sandisk for showing that they can bring a music player to the market, but not truly compete with the major players.
Posted by David Dudley (446 comments )
Link Flag
i have their player and the scroll will is just fine. stop writing your idpod fan-based bias opinion. this is a news story not a product review form anyway.
Posted by itsallj (19 comments )
Link Flag
Not that bad
I tried the SanDisk players and they're not that
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
bad. Are they the greatest media player ever? Of course not. They're ok. I think Sony's bean shaped ones are strange.
Posted by (156 comments )
Link Flag
Just a Preview
All SanDisk has done is give us a good idea of what Apple's iPod
nano line will look like going into the holiday season. If the price of
flash memory has come down enough to allow those sorts of
capacities then it is only a matter of time before we see those
capacities and prices in the iPod nanos. Despite Apple's reputation
as an expensive computer manufacturer, their iPods have been very
very cost-competitive for years.
Posted by CBWolf (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What does this mean?
"While the Sansa line supports Microsoft PlaysForSure and Rhapsody To Go, the device has a nonproprietary digital rights management system and allows any songs in the MP3 and WMA formats to be uploaded to the device."

ahh...WMA IS a proprietary format...
AAC (without Apple's FairPlay DRM) IS an open standard and it won't play that or Ogg Vorbis files so I really don't understand that statement!!!!
Posted by (106 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Desperation time...
If I'm not mistaken, Dell reduced the price of their crappy players
and did some crazy iPod trade in program before they called it
This is desperation time for Sansa and probably their last punch
before they TOO kneel to the iPod.
Posted by Bosco714 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what are you smoking?
I own the SAnsa 6gb, and it is god of flash mp3 players. and yes you are mistaken dell did reduce the price of their players but they never second in the mp3 player race. did you even read the story? A company that has the sales like sandisk does with the sansa will not close that division.
Posted by itsallj (19 comments )
Link Flag
Sounds like you haven't tried one yet
It works every bit as good as a Nano. I have the 2GB and like it a lot. I also have an iPod so I am able to compare directly.
Posted by J. Blow (193 comments )
Link Flag
Nano, time to upgrade
now with twice the memory offerd in an ipod nano apple needs to get moving and release a newer high capacity nano and drop the prices of their exsiting line. anyone who buys a nano now is just buying it for the name and nothing else.
Posted by itsallj (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm buying iPods because, bit rate for bit rate, Dolby Labs AAC
SOUNDS better to me than does WMA.
It's funny, but since I buy music devices to LISTEN to music, I'll be
buying iPods until one or more of these clone makers gets a clue
and drops WMA.
Have I mentioned that WMA hurts my ears?
Posted by GGGlen (491 comments )
Link Flag
What about objectivity?
This article reads like an opinion piece when it should be objective. For example, Apple's share of the digital content player market is described as "monstrous" and, the Sansa device is described as being open when in fact both PlaysforSure and Real are proprietary formats. Surely C/Net can find people to write for it who grasp the concept of journalistic objectivity.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't either format on the player. My MP3's are ripped from my CD's using the lame encoder.

I have iTunes. I used it for a player on my laptop. It's a nice player but I don't care to use it to rip music with as I'll need to convert it so I can use it with my other MP3 players. Apple's format does not play with a darn on my motorcycles radio that can play MP3.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
We own SanDisk players and love them!
We own several SanDisk players and love them. I've never understood why people pay so much more for an iPod that does the same thing.
Posted by BengalTigger (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Matter of personal taste
People will buy ipods if they wish to subsribe to itunes to download music. It's a feature, just like yours has a radio and ipod doesn't. Each person is unique and will choose which player they believe best suits them. The important thing is that you are happy with your choice.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
Competition is Good
I use my Dell Axim for my MP3 files, but I figure that SanDisk dropping prices and upping memory is a good thing for the market. Competition is good for the consumer. I give Apple credit for a good product, but if SanDisk and others and force the prices down that's better for the consumer.
Posted by guynamedalex (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPod/iTunes = No Subscription Services
Which is why I won't buy an iPod.

With Zune, and a wide variety of other players available, this should be a good Christmas for non-iPodSheep.:-)
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You may be wrong
If the subscription model becomes popular enough there is nothing
stopping Apple from adopting it. As yet, there is not enough
demand for it to interest Apple at all. Personally I would rather get
something to keep for my money rather than music that evaporates
when I stop paying the bill on a subscription.

Let me remind you that, like Vista, Zune is not available yet. I'm
glad you're so jazzed about it, but you come across as more of an
Apple-hater than a Zune-lover. Have a nice day!
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
The recording industry loves people like you.
Rental prices always go up, providing more and more revenue for
the industry, while a purchased song need never be bought again.

Long term, rentals are always more expensive than owning.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
there will be no Zune available at Christmas
at least not Chistmas 2006.
Let's explain why: just do some simple counting back.
- if you want to offer an article for X-mas sales, stores like Wall
Mart enforce you to deliver the goods latest Dec. 1st
- which means the Zunes should land in the US by half of Nov.
to be able to distribute them all over the country.
- taking into account a sea transportation of 4 weeks from
China to the US, this would mean the players would have to
leave the Chinese factory latest half of October.
- to fill some containers with Zunes, the factory will need at
least 1 week to produce the Zunes (2nd week of Oct.)
- because you don't want to end up with containers of crappy
units, you first do a pilotrun of some 1000 of units, tuning your
production line and releasing the production flow. Which takes
you at least 1 week, so pilot run should start no later than Oct
- before starting production, you need to get your material on
stock in your factory warehouse. Depending on which
components, this will take you at least between 4 to 8 weeks
Order Lead Time. This means, that the final Bill-of-Material
should have been released Aug. 1st to do correct sourcing.
- If you know all your components by Aug. 1st, you also know
the exact features of the device you are going to build.
- out of experience, we know Microsoft is at least half a year
promoting anything they will sell in the near/distant future, so if
by now we still have to guess how the final unit will look like (the
making of the moulds for the housing really does take time), or
what the features of the Zune are, this means there is no final
BOM yet, ergo there will be no Zune on the shelves at Christmas

If - for a change - Bill copies the marketing strategy of Steve as
well ("tadaa... here is the Zune, and you will find it all over the
country from tomorrow onwards") then of course everything is
still possible. But I doubt it...
Posted by dirk goedseels (39 comments )
Link Flag
Storage Isn't Everything
8GB of storage in a flash player is wonderful, I'd like to have that much. However, I am wondering if anyone else has seen past the hype of the SanDisk e200 series players with their comprehensive feature set and generous memory and realized that the actual player design is lacking. Honestly, after playing with one in the store, the cheesy plastic scroll ring is unacceptable. In addition, the buttons around the scroll ring are flush with the surface, and very hard to press. I would never buy an iPod for several reasons, including the fact that I don't like having to use Apple software, I don't like Apple putting restrictions on what I can do with my music, and I am annoyed with the company's arrogance in their Microsoft-bashing, and continued sales of the iPod Shuffle, which I belive has serious design flaws and a limited life span. However, the the scroll wheel system used by iPods is the best, hands down. If you are looking for an alternative to and iPod Nano, I suggest you check out the Samsung YP-Z5. I recently bought one and have found it to be a very well designed player. Although the touchpad is not as precise as iPods', I think it's much more elegant than the SanDisk e2xx controls.
Posted by davedude (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So, you squeal and steal?
You said:

"I would never buy an iPod for several reasons, including the fact
that I don't like having to use Apple software, I don't like Apple
putting restrictions on what I can do with my music, and I am
annoyed with the company's arrogance in their Microsoft-
bashing, and continued sales of the iPod Shuffle, which I belive
has serious design flaws and a limited life span. "

The earlier language usually means the speaker resents having
to pay for music and uses peer-to-peer. In fact, the most
virulent iTunes Music Store critics seem to be people who hate
the idea of paying for stuff. (Are you peeved at iPods because
they aren't free, too?) The second clause of your remark
suggests you are under the impression that you make decisions
about product design in Cupertino. If you tell Apple to withdraw
the Shuffle it is supposed to? Weird. Possibly delusional.

Solution to both issues: Don't buy Apple products.

However, your squealing and stealing reflect badly on you, not
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
Do the Math
at $249 and expandable to 10Gig, why spend an additional $30-$50 on 2Gig of memory. Might as well spend the $300 on IPOD 30Gig Video. I mean, does it not make sense? Just a thought...
Posted by supremesketch (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's not about math
Last time I checked, the ipod video wasn't a flash based player. It was also a heck of a lot larger and heavier than the Sansa. If I wanted to lug around a 42" TV, I wouldn't compare it's price to a 13" portable. So therefore your price comparison has no merit whatsoever. You're comparing apples to oranges. And while we're on apples, can anyone explain to me why they named their computer after a raincoat? Let's get back to the facts. For a small, large capacity flash based player, it just doesn't get any better than the Sansa (until the clic comes in something larger than 2GB). Better sound quality than the nano, more features, double capacity, half the price. Oh, and it doesn't crack in two if you put it in your pocket. Here's more convoluted math for you. SanDisk has almost tripled its market share (MP3 players) in the last year. Has Apple?
Posted by Magicland (603 comments )
Link Flag
Sandisk Vs Apple ... need more assurance
The sandisk seems to be the very promising but i have many questions. The most important thing is that sandisk is not competing the mp3 player market ..more like creative is the one challenging , and Microsoft zune aswell.

Here is an outline of my confusion .

Support music service from itunes ?
If so does it support podcast on itunes ?

What about file storage ? I know that the ipod can .

Someone help me out with this confusion ... because over all it does sounds very good with the capacity and the price .
Posted by lxander2298 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

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