A fistful of features and supercompetitive pricing are hallmarks of SanDisk products. While many may argue that SanDisk's build and sound quality have been traditionally on the value end of the spectrum, the SanDisk Sansa e200 is no slacker when it comes to performance. The physical build is obviously nicer than that of the m200 or e100 series, but beyond that, the unit's sound quality has improved as well, though picky listeners will notice some system noise.
SanDisk is one of the first manufacturers, if not the first, to use a PortalPlayer chip designed specifically for flash players. The nano and the video iPod use a PortalPlayer chip as well, but those are optimised for hard drive-based players. Audio sounds bright, and the unit gets loud, driving our Grado SR80 headphones well beyond normal listening levels. There is no custom equaliser, but there are seven presets that sound decent. The e200 may not sound as beautiful as a Cowon or a Sony player, but it comes close.
The only misgiving we had was a dim but noticeable clicking when adjusting the volume and bits of noise caused by internal electronic interference, definitely noticeable when the dial lights up blue. We hope SanDisk can address this hit to the overall sound quality. The device also works reasonably well with subscription applications such as Napster.
For quality of video and photos, we're not as impressed, though currently there aren't many flash players with big-screen multimedia capabilities, save for the iRiver U10. As mentioned, the screen is bright and video looks reasonable -- even at 15fps -- but the viewing angle from the left side is not great. In addition, most photos end up cropped (with black borders) due to the screen ratio. Still, the screen is bigger than the nano's 38mm display, plus photos and videos look decent if not supersharp. Overall, processor performance is excellent, with the e200 seldom pausing and freezing up only once in our testing.
The SanDisk Sansa e200 has an audio-battery rating of 20 hours. This is a very good number, far exceeding the 12 hours of the iPod nano.
Look out iPod nano and other high-end flash players -- SanDisk, which can be aggressive with its prices, thanks to its advantageous place in the memory business, is releasing some powerful WMA weapons. Although the new players aren't as competitive pricewise as its older players, the Sansa e200 series helps SanDisk establish a presence in the high-profile luxury class.
Editor's note: A previous version of this review incorrectly stated that the SanDisk Sansa e200 has an FM radio and recorder. The UK version of the player does not have these features.
Edited by Jasmine France
Additional editing by Nick Hide