Ever since the Microsoft Zune MP3 player botched its Wi-Fi implementation by using it only for very restricted sharing with the scarce group of other Zune users, it has been inevitable that someone would get Wi-Fi right. Last week, SanDisk raised the bar considerably with the announcement of the Sansa Connect, even if it isn’t perfect.
Spec-wise the Sansa Connect is a 4GB flash-based MP3 player with a 2.2 inch TFT LCD screen, internal speaker, microSD card slot for additional capacity, and supports PlaysForSure music as well as photos. All that is fairly standard except for the speaker (and perhaps the lack of video support), but where the Sansa Connect really gets different is that it can connect to any open Wi-Fi network allowing the user to:
The Yahoo! theme is intentional – you won’t get real value from the Wi-Fi feature without using the Yahoo! Internet services mentioned above. While LAUNCHcast, Messenger, and Flickr are free, Yahoo! Music Unlimited is a $12/month subscription service and frankly the Sansa Connect isn’t worth the $249.99 list price without it.
Some review snippets:
Sandisk has another winner here; I have no doubt. I am thoroughly impressed with the features available on this little device. Once you hooked this player up to your wifi network, it is almost impossible to put it down. This is what the Zune should have been.
The Connect is tied to Yahoo! Music Unlimited for its subscription download model and streaming radio, and we’ve gotta say, a WiFi DAP really brings the model into its own.
We’re disappointed that the Connect isn’t a little more open than it is; we’d like to be able to stream whatever the heck we want for starters, but Yahoo! Music Unlimited and LAUNCHcast aren’t bad starts. Now the trick is to keep up the WiFi momentum for these things — Apple, Creative, iRiver, Archos, we’re looking straight at you!
If you can stomach the $12 monthly charge for Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go, the Sansa Connect is a fantastic device.
Bottom line: If you have frequent proximity to Wi-Fi networks and don’t mind the subscription fee, the Sansa Connect is one nifty gadget. The Wi-Fi connection to the Yahoo! Music Unlimited library obviates the need for larger capacity in the device.