Home > Geeky, hardware > Why I like SanDisk MP3 players

Why I like SanDisk MP3 players

April 11, 2008

I don’t pirate music or other licensed content, but when I pay for something, I damn well expect it to stay paid for.  The thought of having to figure out a license scheme for music that I’ve bought and make sure it doesn’t get corrupted in the transfer from one device to another is… foreign to me.  At least.  So when I rip music from a CD, it goes to plain-vanilla mp3 format.  I am so not interested in any format that watches whether I fasten my ethical seat belt.

So as wondrous as iPod players are, their main format strikes me as a major annoyance waiting to happen.  Yes, I know they can handle plain mp3 files but there’s another problem: I don’t install software unless I’m forced to.  New digital camera?  The CD that came with it languishes in the box; it will never know the warm embrace of my computer’s drive.  This is because in my experience the software that comes with digital gadgets is usually awful, because it always tries to do your file management for you.  This is great (I suppose) until it fails and your files are a mess.  I have my own software and I’ll manage my own files, thank you very much.

OK, I realize most consumers are more trusting than that.

Anyway, here’s how it works for me: say I download a bunch of MP3 files from the Skeptic’s Guide Archive to listen to at the gym.  Then I plug in my SanDisk Sansa C250 (catch one for about $45 on sale) to my cheap Linux computer and a device window full of folders automatically pops up.  I double-click on the one marked “music” and now can see my .mp3 files.  Then I copy the files I just downloaded and paste them into that “music” folder.  Add 15 minutes charging on the USB port and I’m ready!  No special software needed.


  • Yes, I know iPods can play plain mp3 files.  My cheap Sansa is also an FM radio and a voice recorder.  And it has a little screen to help me pick the mp3 I want to play.  The comparably priced “Shuffle” doesn’t do any of that.

  • Skeptic’s Guide podcasts are free.  Enjoy!
  • Sansa auto-recognizes perfectly well in Windows XP also.
Categories: Geeky, hardware
  1. April 12, 2008 at 14:24 | #1

    I’ve never been too keen about iPods, iTunes, the format lock-in, and proprietary software that you can’t use if you run Linux. And don’t get me started on iPhone—you couldn’t give me one for free.

    Since I carry a mobile phone all the time anyway, my Blackberry with a micro-SD card is just as plug-and-playable as the SanDisk.

  2. April 13, 2008 at 13:36 | #2

    iPods are only good and worthwhile if you get one on the cheap like I did and mod it out with Linux Rockbox. Otherwise they are a waste of money.

  3. Lucas
    April 13, 2008 at 20:24 | #3

    I own two Sansa MP3 players.  One broke less than two weeks after buying it (it was refurbished, but still), and the other does not work very well on my Mac.  Every time I want to delete something, I have to reformat the drive.  I have a feeling that I wouldn’t have these problems with an iPod, though I have an even stronger feeling that I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an iPod.  If anyone gets an offer of an unwanted free iPhone, send it on to me, since I would sell it on eBay like nobody’s business.

  4. April 14, 2008 at 10:54 | #4

    I don’t own a Sansa, but we bought one for my wife.  We love that thing.  We do subscribe to their network, though it’s not necessary. (Rhapsody is pretty cool by itself).  The major selling point of the sansa for me though was the battery.  4 tiny little screws and I can pop it out and pop in a replacement in about 2 minutes.

    Ipod – not so much.

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