updated 08:55 am EDT, Tue August 31, 2010
SanDisk Sansa Fuse Plus gets new UI, many formats
After a long silence, SanDisk today finally updated its core MP3 players with the Sansa Fuze+. The MP3 player is first a reworking of SanDisk's interface and drops the iPod-like jogwheel for a capacitive touch directional pad. Its software interface is also new and brings a simpler if Zune-inspired "film strip" interface that puts major categories at top and provides either quick access from the top level or a launch into a deeper level.
Format support is also greatly expanded over the original Fuze and now accepts both AAC audio and H.264 video, including any unprotected content first bought in iTunes. It can also handle typical formats such as MP3, WMA and WMV as well as less common formats like Audible books, FLAC and OGG. SanDisk is still trying to push its slotRadio format and will automatically recognize cards put into the microSDHC slot, although it can still use regular cards.
Earlier extras still carry forward, such as FM radio with recording and a microphone for voice memos. Battery life lasts for a full day of audio or five hours of video, even with a larger 2.4-inch screen.
The Fuze+ is tailored to the low end of the spectrum and has capacities of 4GB, 8GB and 16GB priced at $80, $90 and $120 respectively. All of the players are available today in as many as five colors, although not every color is available with every capacity.
SanDisk's launch is its first real debut since the Sansa Clip+ and longer still for any of its full-featured players, putting the company back into competition. The company had once been one of Apple's bitterest rivals in the MP3 player field and is still the second-largest competitor in the US, but the iPod has held on to roughly 70 percent of the country's market share for years, in part due to slow or non-existent updates from smaller firms.