It seems as though MP3 players are becoming increasingly feature packed these days, indeed the term “MP3 player” seems like something of an anachronism because of it. The Creative Zen V Plus is a perfect case in point. In addition to its audio capabilities it can playback video, display photos, receive FM radio, record via a Line-in or internal microphone and even synchronise with your Outlook Contacts and Calendar information. If nothing else it makes for great press release material, but either way it’s difficult to deny that the Zen V Plus packs a lot into its sleek and compact casing.
Weighing a mere 43.5 grams and measuring 43.5 x 67 .5 x 15.9mm it’s very small too; as is the 128 x 128, 1.5in OLED display. Our review sample is the black and blue 8GB version, but the Zen V Plus series is also available in 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB capacities as well as a variety of different colour schemes based on a black or white casing with different colour ‘accents’. Alternatively there’s the Zen V, which is more or less identical but lacks FM radio and is only available in up to 4GB capacities.
Format support is full of all the usual suspects, MP3, WMA and WMA DRM with support for music services using Microsoft’s PlayForSure platform. Regrettably there isn’t any support for OGG or any of the lossless formats that are becoming increasingly popular. Obviously, any Apple based format isn’t supported either but there is support for the Audible audiobook service.
In the box, Creative supplies a set of earphones, a drawstring pouch, lanyard, mini-USB cable, a Line-in cable, neck strap and a silicone protective casing. There’s also a software installation CD and Quick Start guide, while the full manual is supplied on the CD. The provided earphones aren’t the worst, they’re fine for casual listening but I’d still get hold of something better especially since the sound quality of the player is actually pretty good.
Initial impressions of the design are generally positive; it’s easy on the eye while the size and shape means it fits nicely into your palm. The various buttons are also intelligently laid out; the volume rocker on the right edge is perfectly situated for the thumb – of right-handers at least – and just below it is the record button. On the left edge are the Power/Hold slider and a recessed Reset button. For navigation there’s a 5-way joystick on the front of the player, with Play/Pause and Back buttons just to the right of it. On the top edge are all the connections, with a mini-USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack and 2.5mm Line-in.
The player charges via the mini-USB cable provided and though Creative doesn’t supply any other chargers, one could theoretically use any charger that has a mini-USB connection. Once fully charged the player is good for an impressive15 hours use, and can even do slightly better depending on usage.