Creative Zen 4GB - Creative Zen

By Jonathan Bray

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Next I fed the Zen with a couple of tracks from a new band I've discovered. Sowena plays an intriguing blend of acoustic guitars and reggae beats and its well-produced and recorded music is the perfect test of the Zen's capabilities. It excelled here to, jangling out the music with gay abandon.

Finally, I fed the Zen my usual selection of demanding classical works, from Mozart's Requiem to the dramatic opening to Mahler's 5th Symphony. And it coped here just as well, dispatching complex choral refrains and the huge dynamics of orchestral strikes with realism, impact and subtlety.

So, all-in-all, a rather impressive performance. It's a little disappointing that you can't drop video files with higher resolutions than the player's screen, and I'd like to have seen support for lossless codecs too, but the player's big, clean sound makes up for this and then some. If you're looking for an alternative to the iPod nano this alone should put the Zen at the top of your shortlist, and makes it well worth its recommended award.

Verdict

Creative has come up trumps with its new, flash-based, mini media player. Pitched as a direct competitor to the iPod nano it beats it on most fronts with the one exception being that its physical controls aren't quite as nice to use. It comes in a greater range of capacities, has a larger screen and, importantly, isn't tied to iTunes or a proprietary cable for syncing and charging. It comes in at roughly the same price too, the 4GB version selling for just under £100.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Value 8
  • Sound Quality 10
  • Features 7

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.

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