The Sansa M260 from SanDisk is a capable music player, featuring an intuitive menu system, tactile controls and an FM radio.
- 2GB storage, lightweight
- Needs USB cable, runs on AAA batteries, poor display
Although this player ships with large storage space, there are a few significant flaws that hamper its usability
Price$ 249.95 (AUD)
At first glance, the Sansa M260 looks rather bulky, but we were surprised by the overall lightness of the unit. Having said that, the construction of M260 doesn't at all feel solid and we fear few drops might do some damage to the plastic casing. Despite its weight, the M260 is quite thick and this detracts somewhat from its appeal, although it is small enough to slip into a pocket without any problems.
We think the strongest point of this unit is the controls and their interaction with the menu system. We have seen many music players fall down because of a poor control set, but the M260 has one of the better ones we've seen. The front of unit is white and looks rather attractive with a four way touch pad which is a delight to use. A small screen sits to the left of the touch pad, with Menu and volume controls placed on top. After a few days of using this unit, we had the controls down pat and could confidently operate it without looking at the screen.
The Power button on the Sansa also doubles as the Menu button, and using this in conjunction with the touch-pad makes navigation through different system menus a breeze. The thick shape of the Sansa M260 also comes into play here, as it sits snugly on top of your fingers for two hand operation. Our only criticism would be the powering down option, as you have to hold down the Power button for quite some time.
We connected the Sansa to our PC and the device was recognized pretty much immediately. From then it was a matter of simply dragging and dropping files into the music folder. Due to the intuitive nature of the controls, navigating through tracks was very simple and the M260 has a few other useful features as well, namely an FM radio, voice recording and a Favorites list.
The FM radio on the Sansa allows you to set up to 20 preset stations and we were impressed with the quality of the reception. You cannot however, record from the radio, which is a feature many other units offer. The voice recording function is similarly limited, allowing you to record only WAV files and no recording from external sources, such as CD players, is supported. The Favorites option is essentially a custom playlist. As a song is playing, you can add it to your Favorites list and then later instruct the unit to just play your Favorites - a feature we quite liked.
The sound quality of the unit was nothing to write home about, but the supplied earphones weren't the worst we have seen either. During our testing, we discovered that the player resumes exactly where it was playing before you turned it off, a handy feature for listening to audiobooks.
Where the Sansa loses points is the screen, with a very basic non-colour display. The display is backlit, but the screens on some other models (Samsung for example) put this one to shame. We especially found it hard to read in darker conditions. The other significant factor that counts against the Sansa M260 is that it requires a USB cable to be connected to a PC before you can transfer data. Although many players ship with this kind of setup, we find it limiting in the extreme, and much prefer units that plug straight into a PC, freeing you up from having to carry extra cables.
You should be aware that the Sansa runs on AAA batteries, meaning you'll have to buy a new AAA battery for every 19 hours of music playback. Our personal preference is for USB units with inbuilt batteries, offering you the convenience of charging automatically as you transfer data.
The M260 ships with a 5 equaliser options can play MP3, WMA and secure WMA file formats and is available in 512MB, 1GB and 2GB sizes.
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