At this point, WiFi-equipped DAPs aren't completely novel, but they're still novel enough to command a good deal of attention -- especially when they're coming from companies like Sandisk through collaborations with Zing
. In fact, the $249 Sansa Connect
bears a truly striking resemblance (both physically and in user experience) to the reference device Zing was showing off last year -- much more so than its distant cousin from the same Zing drafting board, Sirius' Stiletto
. Though the Sansa Connect obiviously loses the Stiletto's satellite radio capabilites, it dominates the Stiletto (and the Zune
, for that matter) in its effective use of 802.11 airwaves. Why most manufacturers have yet to pick up on the WiFi formula for this class of devices, we don't understand, but hey folks, it's easy: give us streaming, easy PC-free downloading, and firmware updates over the air. We're all awash in hotspots at this point, so let's take full advantage, yeah? The Connect is tied to Yahoo! Music Unlimited
for its subscription download model and streaming radio, and we've gotta say, a WiFi DAP really
brings the model into its own. It almost trivializes the need for serious storage in the device -- this one makes do with 4GB plus microSD expansion -- because you can get literally any music in Yahoo's catalog whenever you have a data connection handy. All of Yahoo's features carry over, too: ratings can be saved from the Connect, album art is downloaded in real time, and you've even got Messenger on here. All of LAUNCHcast's stations are available to stream, and of course, you can build your own station based on personal tastes. And for users of other services that employ secure WMA, rest easy: you'll be able to pull your songs into Yahoo Music Jukebox (or, if you subscribe to Unlimited, just grab the song again if you're so inclined). We tested this with URGE
and it worked like a champ.