Aug 10 2009
When riding my bike I often get ideas for topics that would make great articles. That’s one of the benefits of cycling. Seeing the world at the speed of a bicycle sparks thought and opens my eyes to what’s going on in the world around me. Trouble is, I often forget the brilliant ideas before I get back to my desk. I carry a pocket notebook in my handlebar bag, but don’t always want to take the time to stop and scribble my thoughts. And when I do write down my ideas, my scrawl is not always easy to decipher, even if I do wear my reading specs. Sweat from my soaked glove smears the ink on the page, and I long ago lost my ability to write elegant Palmer script. Happily, technology has come to the rescue. I now carry a secretary in my handlebar bag, and she’s no bigger than a matchbook. Let me introduce you to my SanDisk Sansa Clip:
The Sansa Clip is a tiny MP3 player, and it cost me about USD30. It plays music or audio books downloaded from the computer. It has an FM tuner. My 1GB Clip will run for about 15 hours before the battery needs recharging (recharge by plugging a mini USB cable into a high speed port). But more importantly for my purposes, the Clip makes voice recordings. That along with the price and small size convinced me to buy it.
My Clip has been reliable and easy to use. I’ve had it for about a year now, and have recorded many hours of notes, thoughts, and observations. On the road, I clip the Clip to an internal pocket in my handlebar bag where I can get at it quickly. If I want to make a running commentary, I clip it to my jersey collar, switch it on, and speak.
The hinge hasn’t failed to hold tightly, and the microphone is very sensitive but selective. Wind and traffic noise hasn’t been a problem, and the recordings are clear. You can choose to save a recording or delete it, and can play back what you’ve recorded by listening in with the included ear buds. Turn on the Clip with a sliding switch on one side, and regulate volume with a toggle switch on the other. Cycle through menus and options with a circular switch on face of the Clip. Downloading your recordings are as easy as plugging the Clip into your computer, where it mounts like a memory stick or external hard drive. Drag and drop the appropriate folder to your computer, and play back with the software of your choice.
SanDisk specifies that the Clip will require Windows XP SP2 or the Vista Operating System as well as Windows Media Player 10 or 11, but a forum post at SanDisk tells how to use the Clip with a Mac running OSX and iTunes. I use the Clip with my Mac with no difficulty. One caveat though—recharging the battery requires a high speed USB connection, and though my laptop has USB 2.0 ports, the Clip doesn’t adequately charge. I need to use my Mac desktop to do that job.
If you think you’d like a Sansa Clip of your own, go to SanDisk’s product page and check out the different models. My needs are modest, so I bought the Clip with the smallest amount of storage at 1GB, but it’s possible to get them as roomy as 8GB. You can read the user manual online, too.
There are more stylish portable digital music players on the market, but I like the understated Clip better. Moreover, if I drop the Clip when riding, the financial loss is minimized. Overall, the Sansa Clip is a highly capable little workhorse and suits my purposes to a T. Though I never listen to music (or my recordings, come to that) while on the bike, the high fidelity of the music along with the FM capability make it a welcome companion on rest stops for checking in on the news or weather forecast. Best of all, I never need worry about forgetting an important thought again!