Sansa Clip Sport

A while ago I bought a Sansa Clip Sport to replace my old portable music player. It is not the cheapest around, but I wanted one with a display so I can see and select specific files (since I also listen to audiobooks, as well as music). With 8GB of storage, MP3/WMA/AAC/Ogg/WAV/FLAC support, micro USB connectivity, a microSDHC port to add more storage space, pretty decent battery life and at a price just below 50 euro's, it seemed to to be the perfect match for me. The computers also recognized the device as a normal USB Mass Storage device (as it should be), which meant I could easily transfer files on to and off the device. But the fairytale did not last.

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Sansa Clip Sport - picture from Sansa

Sorting awkwardness

Ever the since the beginning I noticed that when I put files on the Clip Sport, the sorting algorithm was messed up. I expected a 'normal' sorting (alphabeticaly), but I couldn't make sense of the sorting on the device on the display.

The easy workaround would be adding a m3u playlist file to each subdirectory under my Music folder ( ls *.mp3 > directory_name.m3u )

The playlist workaround seemed to work, but when I got home it suddenly did not work anymore. The only workaround which currently seems to keep working, is checking and modifying the tags on the files (using EasyTAG) and ensuring the 'album' name, track number and track name are correctly. This way I can access my album using Music -> Albums and sorting works as it should.

A while later, the geek inside me wanted to know what the weird sorting algorithm was. So I looked around and found this knowledgebase answer which gave me the answer for my situation: the files were sorted by the sequence in the FAT filesystem table.

Pre-conditions
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1. The song display will be sorted by tracking number when those songs are in same album
2. Sorted by tracking number will be applied in Music/Album/, Audiobooks/Titles/, and Podcasts/Episodes/

Limitation
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1. If no "track number" in the song, those songs will be placed in the end of display list.
2. The order of songs without track number. they will be shown in the sequence in FAT table (In general, the song will be displayed first if the song is copied into device first).
3. If "track number" information is included in the song, will sort by track number (0, 1, 2, ...)
4. If same track number information in songs, they will be shown in the sequence in FAT table.

No playlists or tags on the microSD card

When I added the microSD card to add additional space, I noticed that my playlists (.m3u files) were not included in the "Music -> Playlist" menu. To add insult to injury, even correctly tagged albums do not appear to work. Apparently that is a known limitation, which makes the microSD card slot.

Alternative firmware

So I took a look if I could replace the firmware, which I referred to as "crap" by now, with rockbox. Unfortunately this device is not supported, so I'm stuck with the current situation.

Conclusion

The 8GB internal storage is sufficient for me, so I will learn to live with the current situation. The firmware works, all my favorite audio formats are supported, the battery life is good, the device presents itself as a Mass Storage device and the device is not terribly expensive. In general I would recommend the device to others, as long as they also know and accept the caveats mentioned earlier before buying.