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Flash vs Hard Disk - Sansa e280 vs Microsoft Zune

Updated on March 13, 2011

How do you use your MP3 player? Where do you listen to your music? How many songs do you want to have available? Do you want to watch videos as well? These are questions that you should ask yourself before choosing an MP3 player.

Among all the various MP3 players there is two features that separate them - the ones with flash memory and the ones with a hard disk. Which one is best? Well, that is what the questions above are all about.

Why would you want an MP3 player with flash memory? Does size matter to you? Does weight matter to you? How about the safety of no moving parts or hard drive disks to scratch? Flash drives can store a tremendous amount of data.

sansa E280 REVIEW

top-Sansa e280 / below Microsoft Zune

Sharing Zune to Zune

  • 1. Size - although all are not miniature - the flash memory requires less bulk and less weight and are typically smaller which is perfect for exercise enthusiast.
  • 2. No moving parts - means less wear and tear over the life of the MP3 player, and dropping it does not stop your heart.
  • 3. Some - not all can serve double duty as a flash drive through a USB connection.

Why would you want an MP3 player with a hard disk?

  • 1. Larger capacity - how does over 100GB sound? Creates a backup for most or all of your music files and makes the collection mobile.
  • 2. Cost - storage cost per megabyte is lower than with flash memory.
  • 3. Video - larger size is easier to see.
  • 4. Quality - larger files make high quality video

With all of these differences I decided to compare two MP3 players that look much the same as each other. The Sansa e280 and the Microsoft Zune are similar in size and offer somewhat the same features. Let's see what sets them apart.

Sansa e280

  • Flash memory MP3 player made by SanDisk which explains is reasonable price of approximately $249.99. (Amazon price less than $160.00)
  • Durable scratch resistant body that measures approximately 3.5" L x 1.7" W x 0.5" H
  • Included digital rights that allows downloads from numerous services
  • Its 8GB capacity can be increased to 10GB with the addition of a MicroSD slot. As SanDisk increases the capacity of its Micro SD cards from the 2GB max the Sansa e280's capacity will also increase.
  • Photo and video abilities on its 1.8" TFT color screen
  • Built in Digital FM tuner that has immediate recording ability
  • There is a voice recorder
  • Battery life is up to 20 hours before needing recharged. The lithium Ion battery can be replaced by the user.
  • Backlighting helps to make the navigation easier

Microsoft Zune

  • The Zune has a 30GB hard disk priced similarly at $249.99 (Amazon $199.00 or less)
  • The Zune measures approximately 4.4" L x 2.4" W x 0.5" H
  • Download from Zune Marketplace, unprotected music and H.264 from iTunes
  • Plays your music, videos and shows your photos
  • FM tuner is built in
  • Zune to Zune communication can take place within 30 feet. Share full length songs, videos and photos. After listening to the shared songs three times they can be purchased during syncing.
  • Detect other Zunes near you and be part of a Zune community unless you want to stay private by turning off the wireless feature.
  • Battery life is approximately 12 hours (without WiFi turned on)
  • The Zune is available in white, black and red

Mp3 players like most other electronic gadgets takes a lot of research before finding the perfect one for you. Wouldn't it be great to just take all of the best features from all and combine them into one?

Make a list of features that you would like to have and decide how you will use an MP3 player and move forward from there. As an example, I did not follow my own advice and ended up buying a 60 GB video iPod. I love the ipod and I think that it is beautiful, but I have found since that the iPod Nano would be a better fit for me. I would love to use it for exercise matched with the Nike + system. But for someone that wants the ability to watch videos and look at photos the Sansa e280 and the Microsoft Zune may be more comparable to the video iPod.



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