Pros Small, lightweight, semi-intuitive, "good enough" sound, marries MP# players and USB disk drives
Cons No directions, firmware issue
Summary There is a compatability issue with the most recently released 512 mb Sandisk Cruzer Micro USB drives. The older 512 Micro drives (ie. SN starting with 0120) work just fine with the MP3 Companion - I've validated this. If you have a newer 512mb Micro drive like me (SN starting with AX), the drive is incompatible with the MP3 Companion. According to Sandisk tech support, the issue was first identified during the week of March 20th, 2005. The engineering team believes it's a firmware issue on the Cruzer, and is working the issue - eta of 1 month.
You'll know if you have that compatability issue because you'll see the message "Insert Cruzer Micro" scrolling across the screen even though you've already inserted it.
I did get it to work with a 256MB micro. Curiously enough, I also got it to work fine with my 512MB Cruzer Mini. (I've read that this is possible, but burns batteries.)
Other than that... I agree that the unit "feels" cheap, but it seems to work fine. The sound is clear, but bass is a little weak - which isn't an issue for me since I use it while skiing, cycling, roller blading... (Maybe better headphones may fix that, I don't know.) The UI is reasonably intuitive. It's definitely not iPod caliber - it's not supposed to be - but it hasn't hindered my ability to listen to music.
The lack of directions was frustrating. It drove me nuts. To turn it on... Press the play button for several seconds, and wait for the power bar to finish loading. To turn off, do the same thing. Then you'll have to play with it for a bit to figure it out.
I *LOVE* the fact that I can use the usb disk for other data storage/transport too.
So my two cents are... If you're looking for audiophile quality, look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for something that's "good enough" to play tunes while cycling, skiing, or working out, and you don't need perfect sound replication, this little unit might work.
"I'd pass on it"on by Lewie82
Pros If you already have the Cruzer Micro flash drive, you won't have to spend much more for an MP3 player. A few useful menu options.
Cons Cheaply made. Battery lid already broke on mine (very cheap). Battery doesn't seem to last quite 9 hours. When reading from drive, the drive's LED flashes, which can be annoying & battery draining.
Summary If you need to buy both pieces (flash drive and player), skip on it. The price may be tempting (there are often rebates), but it really is worth saving a little extra money to buy something better. The iPod Shuffle 512mb is $99, has better battery life, and plays more formats (except WMA, blech), and still doubles as a USB Flash Drive (and works on PCs and Macs with no trouble). It doesn't have an LCD, but I can't imagine missing it for very long. I also hear the iRiver is quite good.
Pros -uses the cruzer micro drive I already have -very light-weight -easy to use--once you figure it out -decent sound w/ different headphones -lots of EQ settings--both preset and custom--in the menu -upgradeable when higher capacity cruzer micro drives come
Cons -really very very bad documentation; the companion comes only w/ directions for installing the battery (!); for better documentation, you need to go to the Sandisk site--don't bother searching, though, 'cause their search engine didn't find any useful doc
Pros Works with the Sandisk micro drives, so on the off chance you own such a drive, this might be of use to you. But if you're buying them together strictly for the MP3 player 'convenience', there are others to choose from - pick one of them, you'll be glad
Cons The minute I took it out of its package, the disappointment began. It's small all right, but fragile beyond belief. This unit sacrifices to be lightweight and comes in flimsy instead. It scratches and scuffs when you no more than touch it and I'm terri
"Not Impressed"on by Caribooster
Pros Can't think of any pros for this.
Cons Hard to use. Instructions are very poor.
Summary I suggest buying something else. We're returning this one to the store. It turns itself off whenever it feels like it, and you need bionic eyes to read the display panel.