Design & Handling: touch-sensitive controls
It's quite surprising to see that the Fuze+ hasn't given in to market pressure and turned itself into a totally touchscreen device. We think that's a good thing though, as entirely touch-control MP3 players aren't actually that practical. That said, it may not have a touchscreen, but this SanDisk MP3 player brings you the best (or worst) of both worlds, with a touch-sensitive four-way controller, Play/Pause and Back controls on a totally flat touch-sensitive surface just under the display.
As a result, it might take you a little while to get the hang of using the Fuze+. Plus, you can forget about trying to control it in your pocket without looking.
The screen is quite good quality. It's certainly sufficient for navigation through the internal menus, even if it's not so great for video playback. Then again, we weren't really expecting it to be all that good for video. The layout of the menus is reminiscent of the Zune, and allows fast access to all the different functions. The menus are very clear and easy to use.
As usual with SanDisk MP3 players, the Fuse+ perfectly integrates content stored on the microSD card into its system alongside content stored on the internal memory. If only all manufacturers could do as much!
Audio Quality: nothing new
There have been no real changes in audio quality since the original Fuze. The output is still excellent, clean and crisp. However, SanDisk falls into the same trap as Cowon: why on earth supply such lousy earphones with such good MP3 players? It's completely ludicrous, and a basic pair of headphones or earphones you could pick up for around £25 would be much better than the dodgy earphones supplied here.
The Fuse+ supports an impressive range of file formats. Here too, SanDisk follows the example set by Cowon, offering its users a huge choice of multimedia options. Similarly, an FM radio (not RDS, unfortunately) is on hand, as well as a voice recorder function that's fine for use now and again.
The impressive choice of file formats is all very well and good, but the Fuze+ isn't really suitable for watching videos on—or at least we don't think so. However, to be fair, SanDisk's Fuze+ does no better or no worse than most other MP3 players in this field. It's fine for viewing photos stored on a microSD card from your digital camera or mobile phone, but it's pretty much impossible to imagine watching a video in decent conditions on such a tiny screen. In practice, a music video is just about tolerable, but even then, we reckon you'll soon decide you're better off sticking to music files.
In light of this, we're having trouble seeing any advantage the Fuze+ really has over the Clip+. It's more expensive, less compact and its only real attraction is being available in a 16 GB version. Plus, given that even the basic 8 GB models have a microSD slot, this extra capacity isn't a particularly strong selling point.
- Excellent sound quality
- Loads of compatible file formats
- Memory can be expanded with microSD cards
- Dodgy earphones
- Touch-sensitive controls not always very practical
- Not so good for watching videos
The Fuze+ is a very good MP3 player whose main competitor is its lower-end counterpart, the Clip+! Unfortunately, the Clip+ is loads better value than the Fuze+, which doesn't have enough extra features to make it worth the extra money.