Creative Zen 4GB - Creative Zen

By Jonathan Bray

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Creative Zen 4GB

Summary

Our Score:

8

The Zen betters the iPod nano in other ways too. First, it's available in larger capacities. I was sent the 4GB version to review, but it also comes in 8GB and 16GB capacities - the nano stops at 8GB, where the much larger Touch takes over - and there's an SD card expansion slot too, so in theory you could take the memory complement up to an impressive 12GB, which is the same as some lower capacity hard disk-based players.

Other reasons to buy the Zen before the nano include an FM tuner, the ability to charge and transfer files with a standard USB to mini-USB cable rather than a proprietary one, and the fact that you're not tied to iTunes for file transfer and device management. You can use the bundled Creative Media Explorer or Windows Media Player if you want to listen to DRM tracks; or any other music management software you care to mention if you've been sensible enough to simply buy CDs and rip them yourself. You can also simply drag and drop files to the player if you wish - it'll even warn you if the files you're attempting to copy aren't supported by the Zen as you do so.

Battery life is slightly better than the nano's as well, at a quoted 25 hours for audio and five hours for video, though note you'll only get the former if you play 128kbps MP3s continuously with no track skipping or other navigation. There's no search function, however, which is one of the few advantages the nano holds over the Zen.

Once you've got your music and video onto the Zen, navigating through the attractive-looking menu system is very straightforward. The four way d-pad isn't as nice to use as the nano's click wheel, and the rest of the buttons' aren't instantly intuitive either thanks to the fact they have rather ambiguous symbols on them. However, after a short while you'll be flicking around from screen to screen and creating playlists on the fly without a second thought. One excellent feature common to this and other Creative players is index navigation: click right on the device's d-pad and you can then navigate by initial letter. This makes it a snip to navigate long lists quickly. Another nice touch is the Album of the Day feature which, on a click, chooses a random selection of tracks from a random album and plays them. It's an excellent idea and a good feature for in-pocket operation, allowing a quick change of theme without the need to look at the screen.

William Murray

December 19, 2008, 11:42 pm

Does anyone know how to get the audio to sync up with the video on this player

Rickysio

March 16, 2009, 1:15 pm

Versus a Sony E43X series walkman which wins in terms of audio quality?

youreamuppet

August 18, 2011, 12:41 pm

Warning - don't buy creative!! My experience with 4 different players has been awful. The creative zen products work fine for a time and then - BAM! they crash and you can never get them working again and have to replace them. I have owned 4 creative players in 2 years and all of them have crashed and i've lost my entire music library. Thankfully the stores know about the problem and issue you immediately with a new on - but good customer service doesn't make up for a shoddy product. My 4th player has just crashed and I've bought an iPod - thank god - and now creative won't give me a refund..................

anterrorist

November 20, 2013, 12:45 am

I love this player!
Good: sound quality, easy UI, good looking screen, impressive battery life, non-proprietary file transfer, up to, i think, 32 GB SD card (I use a 16 GB one), FM radio, configurable menus, microphone.

Bad: 1. Files on the SD card can only be sorted by folder, can't be put on a playlist. 2. Files on the player memory can't be sorted by folder. 3. Clock goes out of sync quickly. 4. Need to convert video files. 5. No flac support. 6. Limit on the number of playlists (no limit if they are created thought the PC).

Other: Had the player for 5 years and it's great. The signs of wear are screen and case scratches, the player freezing up or not turning on - have to stick a pin into the reset hole to fix that, the down button sometimes (very rarely) triggers the back button.

Another interesting feature is that pictures can be hidden by a password.
If you are in Europe, you can download the latest firmware from the creative site by using a US proxy, because the EU firmware has a volume limit.
Video conversion though other software is much faster, I use FormatFactory with these settings (avi): MPEG4(Xvid), 320x240, bitrate 768, FPS same a source, Aspect Ratio Automatic. Audio: mp3, Sample Rate same a source, bitrate 128. wmv format has slightly smaller file size but the video quality is poorer and conversion takes longer.

comments powered by Disqus