Sansa ConnectAs I was saying in my last post, I tried out a Sandisk Sansa Connect when I was looking for an MP3 player. I only kept it a day and returned it.

There were, in all fairness, a lot of things I liked about it. But the thing that attracted me to it, the Wi-fi feature turned out to be a bust.

I had the 4gb model. They had lowered the price to the point where it was actually cheaper than the e200 series player of that capacity. Size-wise, it could be mistaken for a small cell-phone, especially with the little antenna-like bump at the top. The color OLED display was larger than the one on the Zen V Plus I ended up with and their graphics and user interface was easy to learn and intuitive.

As far as an MP3 player, it was fine. Or for that matter for photos or video, it seemed to be adequate. I didn’t play around with photos or video on it. I really liked the controls, a button in the center of a wheel that you could easily spin round with your thumb. It also rocked in four directions for more functions. Coupled with a set of colorful icons in a on-screen menu, anything you wanted was easily located.

But the big dissapointments were the Wi-fi and the way Sandisk tied it to the Yahoo Music software. The software, which used to be Music Match Jukebox, but Yahoo bought it up and tied it into their music store was horrible. I had used MMJB years ago (in fact had a “lifetime” registration, which is now no good that Yahoo took it over.) but stopped using it in favor of better programs.

MMJB tried to be a “Swiss Army Knife.” Seems like a good idea, but as we all know even a Swiss Army knife is a horrible knife if you’re doing a lot of cutting anf a terrible screwdriver if you need that a lot. While it is a number of things, and handy to have in an emergency, it’s no substitute for the right tool. The same thing applies to software. Rarely does a do-it-all program work well. Yahoo tried to take it and turn it into their version of iTunes, which is an example of awful software in itself.

While it did work with other programs – I tried Winamp again – they tied it to the Yahoo Music service, not only for buying music (which I rarely do online) but to the Wi-fi functions. To find streaming radio content you had to go through Yahoo’s directory. No way – that I could see – to simply enter a URL.

Of course that assumes you could get a wi-fi connection at all. I tried. I really did. I turned off all the security on my home wi-fi in a vain attempt to get it to connect. It saw my network. It showed the name of it. It said it had a strong signal. I tried everything. I turned off all security and ran the router wide open when entering the password failed. I entered the MAC address of the Connect into my router (it saw it and reported it and it agreed with the one in the status screen on the Connect) but that did no good.

But I gave it the benefit of the doubt and assumed it might be something to do with my access point, a Linksys router hacked with the DD-WRT software, and tried it on other networks. I took it to a local restaraunt with open wi-fi. It saw the network, but no connection. Took it down the road to a local hotel with wi-fi access. Still no luck.

So with no way to even try the Yahoo service, I gave up on it. I figured it was time to take the salesman up on his promise I could return it if I didn’t like it.

I really liked the Sansa’s user interface and thought about trying one of the e200 models, but after I started reading reports on the internet about some problems they had, I decided to go with the Zen. My son has had an old Zen hard-drive based player for a while and seemed to like it.

But final word on the Sansa Connect – thumbs down.