A DELIGHT FOR THE SANSA-S

SanDisk moves once more into the fray with a new MP3 player that is both beautiful and bountiful. We played with the new Sansa e260 for a couple of days, and this one is a keeper for sure.

The player measures 1.73 by 3.5 by 0.5 inches — smaller than a deck of cards — and has a display screen covering half the surface. The weight is 2.6 ounces. SansaThe four-gigabyte version we used sells for about $180 from discounters and will hold 1,000 songs, or dozens of symphonic concerts. The sound quality is terrific.

Like other players, such as the iPod Nano, the Sansa can also display photos and video clips. It can be used as a recorder, as well, taking your voice notes or the sounds of the world around you. The battery life tested out at 22 hours, nearly twice that of the iPod Nano.

The Sansa e260 also has an FM receiver. We tuned in several stations, and they came in as clearly as they did on our Sony stereo. The same built-in circuitry that lets you record your voice can also record any broadcast you’re listening to. If you’re listening to a Latin concert or Beethoven concerto you’d like to hear again, just hit the tiny “record” button.

And speaking of musical styles, the Sansa automatically categorized all of our music selections into “Latin,” “classical,” “rock” and “world” in a larger “genres” listing. Somehow it knew what they were. Beats us.

Speaking of what it knows: If you plug its USB cable into your Windows XP computer, the Sansa can automatically download all your saved songs, pictures and video clips. For music, it will even download and display the album covers. If you want more memory, you can plug a micro flash memory card into a slot on the side. By the way, the same USB connection used to download the music and pictures or upload your voice also charges the battery. Most impressive, mama.

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