There was once a time when I was ashamed to admit that I didn't own an iPod. Now being resistant to Apple's charms is discretely admired, and while the iconic DAP might still be synonymous with portable music for the man (or woman) in the street, the tech-aware are beginning to look further afield for their mp3 hit. Contrary to popular bile, Microsoft's Zune really did stand a chance - WiFi could've been their winning stroke, had they considered its potential long-term affect on the market and not the short-term walled garden of the three play/three day approach - and now it has been roundly trounced it turns to Sandisk and their Sansa Connect to fly the "iPod may be pretty but we want something less saturated" flag.
Read on for a round-up of hands-on first impressions, as well as some user feedback...
Engadget's Chris Ziegler took his hands and placed them onto the dinky WiFi DAP, coaxing it out of its box and thumbing it into action. First impressions are promising, too; okay, so it's not an 802.11g free-for-all, but collaboration with Yahoo!'s Music Unlimited subscription service puts a not-insignificant catalogue of tunes at your disposal (as well as ratings, album art and Yahoo! Messenger) or, if you're feeling partial to the whims of radio, LAUNCHcast's stations are on-hand to take advantage of whichever hotspot you're lurking in.
Physical build seems satisfactory, with well-laid-out controls, a QVGA screen that is apparently "gorgeous" and a handy built-in speaker for when your ears are bleeding from too much Q-tip agitation.
4GB of storage and microSD expansion slot aren't, as Zeigler points out, too important when you've got remote access to all that music goodness. However, I can't help but think that they've missed a trick by not letting you sync to your own audio library via WiFi; it has to be done with boring old USB (and with a proprietary connector at that - bad show, Sandisk!). You're also stuck with Yahoo!, since although the Sansa supports other PlaysForSure music services they won't take advantage of the wireless and need that physical USB hook-up. Playlists can't be created (or uploaded) on the DAP either, and search functionality is very limited.
So a good starting point, with areas for improvement. At $249 you'd need to be a big user of Yahoo! and probably a city-dweller to take advantage of plenty of WiFi in order for the Sansa Connect to make sense.
Hands-on with the Sandisk Sansa Connect [Engadget]