NYT Pulp Watch: Pogue Spanks Sansa's Connect for Lame Yahoo! Connection

David Pogue of the NY Times saw so much potential in the Sansa Connect, the Wi-Fi music player that can tap into Yahoo's big online database without a PC in sight. But it disappointed him. And you know what happens when daddy is disappointed. Spankings.

Sansa's chief ingredient: instant real-time flat-fee access to anything in Yahoo's catalog of two million songs. The spontaneity would put the iPod to shame. The song-requesting feature would put satellite radio to shame. And the Wi-Fi freedom would make the Zune crawl back into its hole.

Unfortunately, no matter what SanDisk says, you do not have access to all of Yahoo's two million songs—because the Sansa doesn't offer any way to find them. There's no Search command, no master list of bands or albums—no direct access at all.

In fact, you can download only a tiny fraction of Yahoo's catalogs: just what Yahoo decides to offer you on three sampler platters.

The first sampler is Yahoo's set of 200 Internet radio stations. These are especially cool ones, because (if you're a paid subscriber) you can hit the Skip button to start streaming the next song in the "radio station's" playlist at any time. More amazingly still, when you hear a song you like, you can download it to your player, or even the entire album, with two button taps.

Second, you can get the songs on Yahoo's Most Popular lists in various genres. Finally, you can browse a list of recommendations that Yahoo calculates on the songs you've rated highly using the Sansa's click wheel.


But worse, even of those songs, there are some that are just impossible to download for legal reasons.

Worse, a disappointing percentage of the songs and albums never arrive at all. Whenever you select a song for download, the words "Request Added" appear on the screen; confusingly, the player doesn't begin downloading immediately, but rather adds your requests to a list that's sometimes downloading and sometimes not.

You have to burrow deeply into its menus to find the waiting list. That's also where you find the folder called Unable to Download.

Yahoo explains that many of its songs are internally flagged as "not downloadable" in a complex copy-protection scheme. Fine, but then the Sansa should identify them up front instead of getting your hopes up.

Did we mention it can squirt songs, like a Zune, to other Sansa Connect players? It can. Also, he shakes his head at the Connect's lame propensity to shut down Wi-Fi if batteries drop below 60%, the lack of video capability in this day and age. What do you think you are, Sansa Connect? An iPod nano? A brutal drop-kick on the Connect, from the Pogue-ster.

A Music Player That Needs Seasoning [NYTimes]


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