SanDisk Sansa e280 8GB Flash MP3 Player

By Richard Menta 8/21/06

Last spring SanDisk released the first 6GB flash MP3 player and now - before Apple can mount an answer with a like-capacity iPod nano - SanDisk has released the 8GB Sansa e280. The player is the same as the 6GB e260 with the exception of the extra memory, but offering the FM tuner and voice recorder.

SanDisk priced the e280 very aggressively, delivering double the capacity of the iPod nano for the same $249 price. That's not all, SanDisk has significantly slashed prices on the rest of the e200 series, increasing the heat on the whole iPod line. The 6GB e270 is now $219, the 4GB e260 is $179 and the 2GB 250 is $139.

The 8GB Sansa e200 series is available on Amazon

As a manufacturer of flash memory SanDisk has a significant advantage over any other MP3 maker with the exception of Samsung, who also make flash chips. Not only does the company get the latest greatest for itself, but it cuts out the middleman meaning its costs are lower. Of course, Apple is able to leverage the iPod's sales volume to land pretty cheap memory pricing. Apple is also able to negotiate these savings on the rest of the parts that make up the iPod, an area SanDisk may has less leverage. This allows Apple to meet this agressive pricing if the need to, but first Apple has to raise the capacity of the next-gen iPod nano.

So is the Sansa e280 the iPod Killer everyone has been waiting for? Probably not, but its introduction, along with the price cuts on the rest of the e200 series, makes SanDisk a very strong player. Possibly, the first one to be able to achieve more than single digit market share since the iPod was first introduced. NPD group is claiming the Sansa already owns 10% of market share, but their research is suspect.

The big question is what will the next generation of iPods offer? The Web is rife with rumors, ranging from logical to the overly-speculative. The e280 definitely has a compelling not-so-secret sauce, pressuring Apple to come up with some excitement this fall. Apple will probably unveil the next iPods in October so we'll see then. Combined with the upcoming release of Microsoft's Zune player, Christmas is going to be interesting this year.

Other MP3 stories:
Viliv P1 Personal Media Player
Samsung YP-Z5 iPod nano Competitor

The 8GB Sansa e200 series is available on Amazon

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