Big device offers strong media player value

It has twice the memory of a Nano, plays video exceptionally well, plus has an FM radio

The View, with its support of the microSDHC flash storage format, has a potential capacity of 24GB, which video fans will appreciate. That's triple the storage capacity of the iPod Nano, which doesn't have an add-on slot for storage.

Overall, sound quality was flat, or perhaps "even" is a better description. This isn't a bad thing; it has very good response in all ranges but it doesn't excel in any portion of the aural spectrum. Some people like that sort of happy medium approach to sound, but I subjectively felt the Sansa View was missing the crisp presence found on iPods and on the Creative Zen I reviewed recently.

The View's audio and video support is strong with playback of MP3, protected and unprotected WMA, non-protected AAC and .WAV formats as well as support for Audible audio books. Its native video support includes MPEG3, WMV and H.264.

Besides solid video and audio playback, the Sansa View has a few nice extras. In particular, I was impressed with its 35-hour battery rating for audio playback (it's rated at seven hours for video playback). That's the longest rated battery life of any of the current generation of Nano-like media players. It also supports voice recording and, as mentioned previously, it has an FM radio.

Overall, SanDisk's new View is a full-featured device with only a few shortcomings, such as its size and navigation software that could use a bit more depth. However, for many, those shortcomings will be more than offset by its sheer value. It is US$50 cheaper than the comparable Creative Zen and it is the same price, and has twice the native storage capacity, as the iPod Nano, plus it has a handful of features the Nano doesn't have.

David Haskin is a contributing editor specializing in mobile and wireless issues.

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