The first album I ever fell in love with was the Eagle’s 1977 Hotel California. I must have spun that old vinyl 33 a thousand times on my brand new Ward’s Airline Stereo. Pretty cool stuff for a kid. New stereo, new music. new ideas. I just found out last night, that I’ve never actually heard the song.
I’ve never been a hardcore music fan. My college roommate, ran UCLA’s radio station in the mid 80s, and probably owned a bazillion albums. I had maybe 20. So I’m not really the ultimate customer for an IPOD. I like music, but couldn’t see my way to spending 300 bucks on an MP3 player, or a thousand dollars to fill it up. I’m fine with my car stereo and an occasional tune on the stereo system in my office. So I got picked, as the closest thing to a civilian here in our studios, to evaluate and test what’s new in MP3 players and portable music devices.
So let me tell you right off the bat, bang for the buck, the New SANSA Shaker will rock your world. This 30 dollar MP3 player has a purity and clarity of sound that is just amazing. I loaded up a digitally mastered recording of Hotel California, put in the earbuds, gave it a shake and heard the opening 12 string guitar like i’ve never heard it before. The stereo separation is so perfect, you can feel the marracas shaking on your left, the guitar in the center of your soul, the drummer in front and the audience to your right. Stellar, beautiful, clear, rich, rounded sound. Its almost enough to make you understand why people get addicted to their IPOD. I always wondered what stereo was good for. With the Shaker I understand. The first question I had was: Do all little earbud MP3 players sound this good? I loaded up the song on a $90 dollar VIBE from PNY, popped in my earbuds and heard plain old transister radio quality sound. So, no. Great sound is not a done deal, but the Sansa guys got it right. And this is their bottom of the line unit.
Nevertheless, even though I’m inclined to keep the Shaker myself, I’m not the real target demographic. It says right on the packaging: Ages 8 and UP. Thus, before I had a chance to discover great new sound, my two preteen sons have been marching around for the last week constantly rocking to the beat of their own shakers. My 12 year old has been asking for an IPOD for months, and was thrilled when I tossed him the Shaker. Ergonomically, its no IPOD look alike, so its cool to be the only kid in class carrying one. The Shaker is shaped like a little salt shaker, with a twist band top and bottom to control sound and navigation. Just give it a little wrist flick shake and it’ll randomly pick a new song to play.
He tells me its simple to load songs. (even his mom could do it). Plug in the scsi cable to the bottom of the shaker. Then open an explorer window to the list of songs on his PC, open another to the SANSA (because its built around a removable SD card – just like your digital camera- it shows up as just another removable harddrive on your PC) and drag the files you want from one to the other.
The Shaker is a really well designed little package with intuitive controls and nice extra features. Since the music is stored on a removable SD card (Sandisk’s core product) you can easily expand capacity, and in theory have an unlimited supply of songs available to your shaker.
Even better, you can grab a few low capacity SD cards for 10 bucks a piece and use one for each kid, or even one for you to store that new audio book you just downloaded. Best of all for a rugged little player aimed at kids, the Shaker is easy to share. It comes with an external speaker – so everyone can hear it, has enough power to drive a bigger pair of speakers or feed a stereo system, and even comes with Two headset jacks so the kids can listen together and Mom and Dad can still have some peace and quiet.
All in all, at the price, i would call it a sure fire gift for all of family holiday gift exchanges. The only guys who won’t love the shaker are the Zune product managers over at Microsoft. I don’t see how they are ever gonna be number two with Sansa in their way.
Check out SanDisk’s Product page here to learn more.