"Glad I didn't get a Creative Zen"4.5 starson by woatrace
Pros: The Micro SD slot is FULLY integrated with the Fuze, unlike the Creative Zen, so you can download subscription tracks and channels onto external memory up to 16gb. Excellent audio, good looking construction, feels solid, great price.
Cons: Graphically, you get what you pay for: The GUI isn't very pretty and the interface looks like a low resolution iPod. Video playback is a joke (photos look decent, however). Micro SD cost more than regular SD, so memory expansion can be expensive.
Summary: Many people, spoiled by plug-and-play functionality, simply jammed the player's USB right into the computer without first installing the software or following instructions, resulting in the variety of problems common to flash-based mp3 players. My Fuze installed without a hitch, and I filled it up with music from Rhapsody in minutes.
The two key features of the Fuze are its ability to work with subscription services and the complete functionality of the Micro SD slot.
If you haven't used a subscription service like Rhapsody or Napster to Go before, you're missing out. Instead of buying single tracks off of a service like iTunes (which is still an option), you can pay a flat rate of $15 a month and have unlimited access to millions of songs. Better yet, services like Rhapsody offers Channels: 4 hour blocks of music with tracks chosen based on up to ten artists you name and can be updated whenever you sync your Fuze. This is a simple, flexible, and convenient way to find great new music or automatically compile playlists to suit all your moods.
Its closest competitor, the Creative Zen, is advertised to be able to use up to 32gb of external SD memory. However, that SD memory is limited to simple playback: no playlists, no subscription services, nothing. If you bought a Zen hoping to expand its memory and download a ton of subscription music, you're out of luck. Although the Fuze can only accept Micro SDs up to 16gb, it offers complete use of its external memory, so you can put subscription tracks, channels, and playlists onto the Micro SD without issue.
The Fuze is an attractive looking device with a smooth facade and a flat, solid back cover. It feels substantial enough to not feel cheap in your hands, but is light enough to be forgotten in your breast pocket. The audio quality was excellent, although you have to turn it up all the way in order to get its signal through to big receivers (I plug it into the Aux port of my Acura TL, and it sounds absolutely fantastic through the ELS system). The main downside is the GUI, which is one place where the Zen trumps the Fuze. The home screen looks decent, but the animation is choppy and unattractive. The lists and playback screens look pixelated, much worse than early generation color iPods. The video playback was harsh on the eyes and extremely low resolution. Photos, surprisingly, looked fine.
Overall, the Sansa Fuze is a great value, reliable, sturdy, and fully capable of expanding its memory and taking advantage of great subscription services. For the price and quality, its hard to beat. As long as you follow the instructions.