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Creative Zen MX 8GB review



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Creative Zen MX 8GB
  • Creative Zen MX 8GB
  • Creative Zen MX 8GB
  • Creative Zen MX 8GB
  • Creative Zen MX 8GB
  • Zen 70PF248000115 Flash Portable Media Player (Audio Player, Photo Viewer, Video Player, FM Tuner, Voice Recorder - 6.4 cm 2.50" Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD - 8 GB Flash Memory - Black)


Our Score:


Launched last month with precious little fanfare from Creative, the Zen MX is a new entry-level version of what was once the company's flagship player. I guess you could see it one of two ways: either as a rival to mid-range players like the Samsung YP-Q1 and Sony NWZ-E436F, or as an attempt to eke a little more out of the existing Zen range before Creative launches products based on its much-anticipated Zii processor. The Zen MX pretty much supports both interpretations.

For a start, Creative hasn't done much - if any - work redesigning the Zen bodywork. As far as I'm able to gather, the two look identical bar two small details. First, there's no longer an on/lock/unlock switch on the right edge between the mini-USB connector and the headphone socket. These functions have now shifted over to the lower rocker button on the face. Secondly, we get a change of logo on the back of the unit. Otherwise the dimensions (83 x 55 x 12mm) and the weight (66g) are the same, as is the gloss black plastic front, matt black rear and 2.5in screen. Luckily for Creative, the Zen design hasn't dated at all badly. It might not be as instantly desirable as the Samsung YP-P3, Cowon iAudio S9 or 4G iPod nano, but the Zen MX still looks good.

What's more, the Zen MX remains, in most key respects, a surprisingly well-equipped little player. There are still very few players out there with any sort of expansion capabilities, yet the MX has a full-sized SD memory card slot that will accommodate SD or SDHC cards, allowing you to easily double the 8GB or 16GB of storage already included in a moment. The screen is also very solid, the 320 x 240 resolution is perfectly ample for the size, and the support for a full 16.7 million colours is still quite impressive nearly two years on from the first Zen's launch. Viewing angles aren't great and colours aren't as bright or vibrant as those on, say, the Samsung YP-Q1, but clarity is up to scratch and you'll find the display perfectly adequate for short clips, the odd TV programme or viewing photos and slideshows.

The control layout user interface seems unchanged from the earlier Zen, which means it has its upsides and its downs in terms of usability. The D-Pad isn't particularly nice to use and the two-way buttons above and below are labelled rather ambiguously, though it doesn't take long to work out that the top one is back and menu while the bottom one works as the lock/unlock control, a play/pause button and an on/off switch. I actually expected the button in the middle of the D-Pad to do play/pause as well as select tracks or choose menu options, but curiously it doesn't. Nor does it start and pause recording when you use the voice recorder function, which takes a bit of getting used to.


July 19, 2009, 1:42 pm

Typo p1: "allowing you to easily double the 8MB or 16MB of storage already included" - you meant GB!

I have one of the original 8GB ones. Now scratched all over but still almost as intuitive to use as an iPod. Happy with it. I use the full version of Media Monkey to fill it. This will convert my FLAC collection to MP3 on the fly, deals well with podcasts etc. Well worth the tenner and I believe it will also sync 3G iPhones and thus remove the iTunes stranglehold.


July 19, 2009, 4:09 pm

My sister has been through 2 Zens. Build quality is awful. Both just stopped working, I think its a bad link with the battery but cant open the bugger to check


July 19, 2009, 6:25 pm

"easily double the 8MB or 16MB"

A whole 32mb?!? I may as well through out my iPod straight away :P


July 19, 2009, 9:55 pm

My old flatmate had this and it still works well. Just needs a screen protector as the screen is very scratchy.


July 19, 2009, 11:21 pm

had 2. 4GB was a scratch magnet and stopped working. changed it for a 8GB. brilliant player, the custom button worked a beaut, used it to auto shuffle.

just a question, does the memory card integrate with the main memory, or are they both separate (like the old one annoyingly was)


July 20, 2009, 2:49 pm


I'm afraid they're still separate - irritatingly enough. Flicking between the onboard memory and the SD card isn't a long-winded process, but it's a shame you can't work from one integrated library.

Everyone else

We'll fix that typo pronto ; )

Shi An De

July 20, 2009, 9:28 pm

@ Thomas

"through out your iPod"? Peaple in glass houses...


July 21, 2009, 7:23 am

@ Shi An De, "Peaple in glass houses..."

So much fail...

LM Stafford

July 24, 2009, 10:21 pm

I have had the Zen for 20 months ago and have found it a great performer on all counts.....except one which I would have expected to correct in the new MX. That is, the media on the SD SDHC card does not sync with the basic core songs management software. Most of the desirable features dont work with the cards and as such the utilization of the card media is clunky and very primitive at best.

Creative got lots of complaints on this and they never addressed it in any upgrades that I know of.

Unless they have fixed this in the MX, it is like buying two players.


September 7, 2009, 4:16 am

Plays a proprietary video format only? Obviously Creative ignored all customer suggestions when they designed this "updated" model. Zen users wanted MORE codecs, not less. That was the great thing about Creative players, they were far less picky about the formats they would play. Now all of a sudden they are taking the choice away from their customers and forcing them to use some unknown format.

I understand some people will not have the knowledge to convert their videos to a portable format, so they need a simple bundled app - and thats fine. But what about the users who use ATI Stream or Nvidia Cuda apps to quickly transcode their videos to an MP4 format? My idea of an upgraded product is one that gives me more features - not less.

Sorry Creative, but you just lost a customer.

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