Creative Zen MX 8GB - Creative Zen MX 8GB

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

On the positive side, the various screens and menus are attractive, clear and well laid out, and there are some really nice features. It's easy to create and save ad-hoc playlists on the move, and there's also a feature to save and locate bookmarks within longer pieces or Audible book files. Creative's usual letter-by-letter index feature makes it easy to navigate long lists with a quick right-click of the D-pad, when scrolling through, and my only major complaint would be that you can't change EQ and Bass Boost functions from within the Now Playing screen; you have to navigate out to the Settings menu and do it there instead.

In terms of functions, the Zen MX is slightly ahead of the most basic players, adding a time/date function with alarm and an organiser with calendar, contacts and task list to the usual FM radio and voice recorder functions, though I suspect most people these days would rather use a mobile phone or smartphone instead of an MP3 player for that sort of thing. The FM radio seems to have decent reception and a working auto-tune feature, while the voice recorder manages to get acceptable audio quality from what is, after all, a tiny built-in microphone.

Unfortunately, problems start to creep in when we get to the player's core functions, most particularly video playback. While the earlier Zen was happy dealing with native WMV and DivX/XviD files, providing the resolution was already set to 320 x 240, the Zen MX will only play files converted to Creative's proprietary .cmv format. The only way to get it there is through the bundled Creative Centrale software, and to make matters worse this refused to operate on my main machine, though it would on a notebook I keep handy. This is a little irritating, and may put off those who have a sizable library of video files they want to make portable, and no wish to convert them into a proprietary format. I suppose, however, that it's nothing iPod users won't be used to. More seriously, it also means that the Zen MX is one of the few PMPs I've tried in recent months that won't playback files downloaded from the BBC's iPlayer, and that's becoming a must-have feature these days. Still, once files are converted they play back smoothly, and don't look bad at all on the Zen MX's little screen.

Retset

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.

Runadumb

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

Thomas204

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

farki80

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.

ilovethemonkeyhead

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)

StuAndrews

July 20, 2009, 2:49 pm

@ilovethemonkeyhead


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...

Ohmz

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.

sco0by

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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