Creative Zen MX 8GB - Creative Zen MX 8GB

By Stuart Andrews



Our Score:


There's better news for music playback - once, that is, you jettison the absolutely wretched bundled buds and plug in something with tolerable levels of clarity and bass response. With a pair of decent in-ear ‘phones or headphones the sound isn't particularly warm, but it is clear, punchy and really very detailed, with a tight, well-defined low end and a lot of resolution at the top end. With a pair of Grado Sr60is plugged in tracks from Rilo Kiley's superb Under the Blacklight came through with great sounding vocals, lovely musical basslines and clean, chiming guitars. There's something really likeable and balanced about the output. Wading Through, from Terence Blanchard's A Tale of God's Will, also sounded brilliant, with crisp, sparkling piano, gorgeous sweeping strings and sweet, articulate acoustic bass notes. Accusations, from The Juan Maclean's The Future Will Come, provided evidence that more synthetic, electronic music isn't a problem either, and the only weak point I can find is that rock and hard rock tracks, like Mastodon's Divinations or Pearl Jam's Deep, don't sound quite as rich and beefy as they do on other players. All the same, the Zen MX is a strong performer for the cash.

That might just be enough to make up for the player's deficiencies in other areas. Audio file format support is almost as unimpressive as video file format support, with no facilities to handle OGG Vorbis or FLAC files - a real disappointment on such an expandable little player. Battery life is good for audio playback, at over 30 hours, but poor for video, at just five. Overall, the Zen MX's fine sound quality and respectable cash/capacity ratio is good enough to keep it in the game against the Samsung and Sony competition, but only just, and it's a shame that some corners have been cut to hit the aggressive price point. It's a credit to the Zen that, nearly two years on and in a cut-down form, it's still a contender for your hard-earned dosh, but I'd take a good look at the YP-Q1 or the NWZ-E436F before pushing my money its way.


The cut-price Zen is let down by a few cut corners, but the design hasn't dated badly and capacity and sound quality are both very reasonable for the money.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 8
  • Usability 7
  • Sound Quality 8


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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