My 5G iPod vs. SanDisk Sansa Fuze: Part I

It was 2005. Having just moved to Boston to complete a summer internship before my senior year of college, I soon found that the locals all seemed to possess two mobile staples: backpacks and iPods. It wasn't long before I purchased my first Apple product—a 4GB iPod mini—and soon I was blissfully meandering down cobblestone streets, lip-syncing and jamming out to my favorite tunes just like the rest of the population.

The iPod mini, as most should remember, was a much clunkier version of today's nano, and I couldn't play videos or view pictures on it. But at around $200, it was still by far my best investment of the summer. My addiction to mobile music hasn't changed in the last three years, but the choices for MP3 players has, and I've since upgraded my mini to the way sleeker 5G with video (which is still a step or two behind today's classic and not as cool as the touch, but I'm at peace with that for now).

Diehard iPod fan that I am, I still like to consider myself open minded, which is why for a week I'm going to give up my 5G iPod for the new flash-based SanDisk Sansa Fuze. At first glance it could easily be mistaken for the iPod nano, but this 4GB player differentiates itself with cool features like an FM radio, voice recorder, and microSD Card slot.

When I'm outside my New York City apartment, my iPod is like my baby blanket; it goes wherever I go. I don't think most babies trade their blankets in for smaller, sleeker versions to keep themselves pacified, but I'm willing to give it a shot for a little while. So kudos to me, right?

Day #1:

I should probably admit right now that when it comes to technology, I can be pretty lazy. This means that I love shortcuts and quick fixes, and for the Sansa Fuze I opt not to install the included software; I easily and quickly transfer my song files from my laptop using the drag-and-drop method in Windows Explorer. Crude, yes, but it gets the job done.

I've never had an MP3 player with an FM radio before, and spend a good hour and a half swinging my head to classic rock on a local station while I do my laundry. One of my roommates tries to get my attention at some point to tell me the dryer is done, but sorry, bro, I'm two choruses deep into AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" right now.

One of the first things I notice about the Fuze is the convenience of the scroll wheel. Unlike my iPod, the wheel moves with my finger, which is comfortable and makes for easy navigation. The controls are simple and intuitive, and a dedicated Home button takes me back to the main screen whenever I want.

I could get into this...

Day #2:

I take the Fuze for a quick morning jog before work and immediately figure out what I'm missing: my iPod's shuffle feature. Remember that laziness I mentioned before? Few things are lazier when it comes to iPod operation than shuffling through your 1,500+ collection of songs, and simply tapping the 'next' button until you find a song you're in the mood for.

What about playlists, you say? I laugh in the face of playlists, but for those who don't, the Fuze easily accommodates your list-building desires. As for me, I settle for listening to the latest Angels and Airwaves album in its entirety as I huff and puff around the block.

I take the Fuze with me to work, and return to the FM radio setting as I head for the nearest subway station. I am promptly reminded why I like MP3s better than local airwaves when I lose reception as I head underground. Oh well.

As I wait for the next R train, I decide to make a GoList, which works just like making an On-The-Go playlist with my iPod. Soon I'm tapping my feet to the likes of The Killers, David Bowie, OK Go, The Click Five, and Tom Petty.

About halfway home I make a monumental discovery: the Fuze has a shuffle option after all! Granted, it took a little digging to find under some of the play options, but now that I know where it is I can lazily and randomly peruse my library with ease. I can even shuffle through my new GoList.

Next on my 'to do' list: create a gym mix.

To be continued...