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Sansa e140 MP3 Player

Oh, no, not yet another mp3 player review! I have read tons of them already. Why should I read this one? Well, for the same reason I wrote it, I hope--because with its SD slot and FM tuner the SanDisk Sansa e140 not only looks interesting it brings some added functionality that makes the SanDisk Sansa e140 MP3 Player a rarity, something slightly different in the crowded digital audio marketplace. The SanDisk Sansa e140 1GB MP3 Player itself as well as the Kingston 2GB SD card was provided us by Geeks our main site sponsor.

E140 Box     E140

The SanDisk Sansa e140 we are looking at today is refurbished and comes in an ordinary white cardboard box lined with a layer of bubble wrap. The retail SanDisk Sansa e140 package contains the Sansa Sansa e140 MP3 Player, earphones, armband, carrying case, AAA battery, USB 2.0 cable, CD with valuable software (Their words, not mine. Most of us call this crapware), user manual, and a quick start guide. The refurbished package comes minus the AAA battery, CD user manual, and quick start guide. As you would expect the user manual is also available online at the SanDisk site in .PDF format. If you are picking up this unit I suggest you don't skip on skimming through the .PDF because although the basic functions are fairly intuitive, and most anyone who can set the time on a VCR can figure them out fairly easily, a few of the advanced features are definitely not intuitive to use. More on this later.

E140 Front     E140 Back

Specs/Features:

-Plays MP3, WMA, Audible audio
-Digital FM tuner, 20 presets
-Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port
-Secure Digital Card slot
-Enhanced sound SRS WOW
-With 5 equalizer types
-Mass storage compliant
-Up to 17 hours playback
-Indigo backlit LCD display

After dropping in a single AAA battery I was ready to get listening. I figured I would start with the FM tuner, so I started mashing buttons randomly--sorta how I play console fighting games--before reading the .PDF, and in no time I had done a scan and automatically set all the local FM channels with their own preset. From there I figured I would set the time, and mess around with the backlit delay, which seemed to go off much too soon for my tastes, so I changed the time it turned off from 5 to 30 seconds. 15 seconds would have been ideal, but the choices in that range were 5, 10, or 30 seconds. In passing I also noticed that for some reason there was a stopwatch function buried here in the menus. I don't know how useful a feature that is on a mp3 player but it is there if you need it.

About this time I started to look for the advanced features like SRS WOW, TruBass, and the Equalizer so I could finish my setup, stop mucking around with the interface in the menus and get busy enjoying my favorite FM radio station (WQMF if anyone cares). The problem was I couldn't locate any of them, so I did what I should have done from the start. I stole a quick glance at the .PDF and discovered that I was in the right place in the menu but for some boneheaded reason most of the advanced features were only accessible while in the audio playback mode and I was in the FM tuner mode. I guess people just listening to the radio are not supposed to care about the SRS WOW, TruBass, and the Equalizer.

Speaking of the advanced features I was surprised how much difference fooling around with these settings made on how the music sounded. Many times I have played with some of these advanced features on other audio devices and heard absolutely no difference between most of the settings--not so here. The TruBass and the Equalizer in particular made a huge difference in how my music sounded so much so that I found that I spent probably 15 minutes which I hadn't planned on in this section getting things just how I wanted them.

In keeping with its small size the SanDisk Sansa e140 MP3 Player comes with a set of ear-buds, these are of the variety that are meant to be worn in the ear canal itself. The speaker portion of the ear buds are encased with a piece of thin gray rubber not unlike a finger cot meant to keep you from getting earwax on the speakers themselves. SanDisk has thoughtfully provided an extra set of these as a spare, or in case the player is to be used by more than one person. The sound quality is honestly not going to win any awards but it is somewhat better than what is normally seen in this price segment. Good enough, in fact, that I didn't immediately switch them out to another set like is my custom with all digital audio players.

E140 Soundbuds

Moving on to do some mp3 and WMA listening I noticed for the first time that the USB cable is about the size that Mini-Me was to Austin Powers. However, for it to be useful it needed to be the size that Fat Bastard was to Austin Powers. I mean, it is so short that it is outright comical. It is IMO even too short for those of you who have USB connectors at the front of your case. It does look like it might work with a laptop but I don't have space on my laptop drive to move my 50+GB of music over there to see, so I just put it back in the box and got one of the dozen or so other USB cables out of the large pile of misc computer crap I have that seems for some reason to earn a mention in most of my reviews.

Once I had the new larger cable in hand I had no problems moving my mp3s onto the SanDisk Sansa e140, my Windows XP SP2 machine correctly recognized it and assigned it a drive letter without any problems. You are also given a wide variety of ways to organize your music collection once on the player by artist, album, song title, genre, and year. I chose song title 'cause that's how I roll. (Sorry about that, but I try to throw in current lingo occasionally because it aggravates my teenage nephews to no end that someone who is 40 happens to know some modern slang).

All my music played fine as well, these included 256 and 320 kbps mp3s as well as VBR (Variable Bit Recording) .mp3s which the majority of my collection is in. WMA also played fine as well. I don't have any secure WMA, though, so I can't comment on how those work. The only other thing here to note is that you can't delete music files directly from the player; you have to do this from your PC while the SanDisk Sansa e140 is attached through the USB cable.

E140 Cable

The Kingston 2GB SD memory card (Also provided us by Geeks) worked just as advertised. Upon installation the SanDisk Sansa e140 now reported that we had two USB mass storage devices under Windows Explorer each complete with their own drive letter, in my case F: and G:. Not only did this double the storage of the unit it also made it useful for general file sharing of both music and data. In my case I used drive F: for music files, and drive G: for everything else.

Kingston SD     E140 Side

One thing I found peculiar is that according to the SanDisk .PDF documentation the e140 supports a maximum SD memory card size of 2GB. I would have been interested in testing this limitation with say a 4GB SD memory card to see what would happen, but I didn't have one on hand. That being said, I am going to take SanDisk at their word that for whatever reason the e140 doesn't support memory card sizes above 2GB. While this does slightly limit its future usefulness, 4GB SD memory cards are currently priced higher than the entire refurbished SanDisk Sansa e140 MP3 Player so are unlikely to be used for this purpose today anyway. In the future when the price of 4GB SD memory cards goes down, this might be more limiting.

According to the specs above taken from the .PDF the SanDisk Sansa e140 MP3 Player can last up to 17 hours on one single AAA battery. In my testing, battery life was about ten hours for one Duracell AAA battery. I am sure I could do better if I had left the backlit shut-off delay set at 5 seconds instead of 30 seconds, my MP3 were encoded at 128 kbps instead of VBR, and I turned off the SRS WOW, mimicking how SanDisk tested battery life. Of course, if I did those things I would be far less satisfied with this player. As is I think 10 hours of life for a single AAA battery is pretty good for as hard as I pushed things. After all there are always rechargeables.

Conclusion:

If you don't yet own or are just looking to replace an aging .MP3 player you can't go wrong with the SanDisk Sansa e140 MP3 Player. I really have to nit pick to find much wrong with this package. For instance, the interface--while for the most part dead-on--is quirky in spots. The USB cable is so short to be basically unusable IMO. Perhaps the biggest gripe I have with this unit, though, is the SD card size seemingly being limited to 2GB for no good reason that I can see.

Pros:

  • FM radio tuner
  • SD expansion slot
  • Decent battery life
  • Easy to read LCD
  • Basic features easy to use

Cons:

  • Tiny USB cable
  • SD card size limited to 2GB

I would like to thank Geeks for providing us with the SanDisk Sansa E140 .MP3 Player for review. This item can be purchased at Geeks for 43 usd. Geeks also provided the Kingston 2GB SD memory card, it sells for 22 usd.

Geeks

Added: May 25th 2007
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 9  
Related Link: SanDisk
Hits: 15650
Language: english

  

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