Dancing on The Ceiling
The Sansa Base Station boasts the usual set of features for products like this. It offers the option to play music from the Sansa player over the audio system of your choice, 'power and charge' the Sansa player while docked and the option to connect the Sansa player to a PC via the Base Station so that it can transfer files and charge via a USB connection.
We tested the Sansa Base Station out at all these tasks and, surprise, surprise, it did exactly what it said on the tin!
The dock connects to a PC via a USB to mini-USB cable and doesn't require a mains connection at all when plugged in in this way as it charges directly through the PC. Users can also transfer files from PC to player. Handy enough, but the major flaw is that the player can already connect directly to the PC anyway without the dock by using the supplied player/USB cable.
In this regard, the Base Station doesn't really add anything new to the Sansa but merely provides a stand for the player to sit in. We'd like to say it cuts down on swapping cables about, but the reality is users will just end up having to move the Base Station and
the Sansa player between their audio set-up and even more cables will end up getting involved.
What's worse is that, with Tim's desk behind mine, I didn't dare swap over any of his music or temporarily eradicate the various evils of Lionel Richie from his ears.
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Unplugging and switching the Base Station over to run on some speakers was problematic as we hunted around for a set of decent speakers which would accommodate the station's RCA audio in
and aux in
plugs. In the end, we noted it was easier just to use a 3.5mm headphone to line-in cable, which exposes that the Sansa Base Station doesn't really add any functionality or ease in this manner either. The line-in cable provides the same function without the station and therefore without as much clutter and faff, though granted it doesn't look as neat and, alone, won't allow use of a remote obviously.
On the plus side, the Sansa Base Station does afford some extra functionality via the remote, so users don't have to keep going over to fiddle directly with the player as they would if you used a line-in cable. The cables for the station are all rather long and the power adapter comes with an adapter and is therefore well suited to travelling, if carrying a Base Station with you in another country is of high priority.
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Our first remote control didn't work in the review sample we had to work with, so we quickly got hold of a second as soon as we found out that it wasn't a case of a flat battery or a dusty sensor.