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Creative Zen V Plus 8GB - Creative Zen V Plus 8GB

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

As noted previously the V Plus packs a hell of a lot of features, but it’s important to note that not all of them are entirely necessary. Video playback is mostly pointless; the player can only read files converted into MJPEG – an uncompressed 15fps format that actually makes files bigger despite reducing them to 128 x 128.

So, for example, my 450MB video file came out at over 900MB and was more or less unwatchable. Similarly, photo viewing on the device isn’t especially worthwhile since the screen isn’t especially large or sharp, making it sufficient only for album art. I also found the screen performed very poorly in direct sunlight, proving unreadable without some kind of shelter.

One of the more unusual features is the ability to sync your contacts, tasks and calendar information to the device but I can’t help but feel this is a classic piece of tokenism. Ultimately, only a tiny minority will use or want such a feature and those that do could possibly be deranged and in need of professional help – {insert disclaimer here}.

Other features like FM radio, Line-in and microphone recording are rather more welcome and certainly add to the attractiveness of the Zen V Plus. Naturally, you need to be in a strong signal area to use the built-in radio receiver but Creative also sent us a sample of its TravelSound Zen V Docking Speakers. These are designed specifically for the Zen V range, which slots onto a rotating dock which feeds off the 3.5mm jack and mini-USB port.

Among other things it has an aerial, which means you can plug the player into the dock and use the external aerial for radio. It also features a USB port, so you can connect to a PC/Notebook via the dock and it can be packed full of AA batteries for portability. At a around £55 it’s keenly priced too, and if you do plan on getting a Zen V Plus it’s worth considering getting a set of these as well.

Finally, it’s worth considering that thanks to its lightness and the central positioning of the 3.5mm jack the Zen V Plus could be an ideal gym partner. Combined with a good set of neck strap earphones it could do the job nicely, and there’s an Armband that can be bought if you want something slightly more secure. It's another potential use for the Zen V Plus, which can only be a good thing.

Verdict

Ultimately, however, one can’t help but feel the Zen V Plus is a missed opportunity. Excellent lightweight design and a decent feature set is let down by cheap construction, a clumsy 5-way joystick, awkward navigation and a poor quality display. Above average battery life and general adaptability do make up for these failings somewhat, but not enough to make them fade into insignificance.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Value 7
  • Features 8

Joe90

June 10, 2008, 7:57 pm

I have owned one of these for about seven months and may have found a very good reason NOT to buy one. I have been working away from home and, to my horror, this player point blank refused to charge from any other computers USB port. It would not charge from a generic mains charger either. I have since tried it in a computer without the Creative software installed. No joy. Then installed the software. Charges just fine. There is no warning about this in the manuals or on the creative web pages. Creative have pointed out to me that I could have purchased and used their car charger. I pointed out to them that I would be unlikely to carry a car around in my suitcase before I carry my home computer around (the airline may frown on it). I think both these options are rubbish a far simpler and cheaper option is to buy an iPod nano. I am not, normaly, an apple fan that's why I have this creative thing in the first place. If like myself you are going to be away from your home computer/car for an extended period of time the zen V plus is next to useless.



Paul Thompson

June 26, 2008, 2:10 am

I had one of these bought as a Fathers Day gift so I can use it by the poolside when we fly off to sunny Tenerife shortly.I came to charge it up for the first time last night via a Dual usb charger purchased from ASDA. The unit powered up but refused to charge.I was concerned to come across Joe90's comments and decided to do a bit of investigating.


I discovered the following in a thread on Creatives web site forums





"Use a Creative wall charger or other charger designed for the Zen V. In order to enable the charge circuit, it is necessary that a special voltage (3.33 volts) be applied to the normally unused pin 4 on the USB Mini B plug that inserts into the unit. Without this special signal, the unit will not charge. The creative charger and SOME (but not all) third party chargers provide this signal. 12 volt chargers that provide a USB Type A socket (or PCs without the software installed) will NOT charge the unit unless a very special cable is used."





I have reserved a Creative Universal charger at my local Comet store and intend to pick it up tomorrow night. Hopefully this will solve my problem (although I object to having to fork out an additional 㿅 for something I believe should be included as standard in the box.


A portable music player should be just that, I guess most people intend to travel around with them. It should be made very clear on the box at point of sale that an exclusive charger is required.


I will let you know how I get on. Hopefully it will solve my problem and I am not left with a useless piece of kit.

Paul Thompson

June 28, 2008, 2:33 am

Update on previous post -


Managed to do a deal at local Argos where I originaly purchased my Zen V plus(on special offer at 㿝.99 at the time). I complained that they had not pointed out the player will only work with the exclusive mains adaptor and if they had I would have purchased at the same time (as they are offering it at half price when purchased with the player).


They have honoured the half price deal so I bought it for 㾸.50


Upshot is it works and has recharged my player. Frustratingly you can't use the player whilst it recharges ( I guess that is too logical an option !).


I realy like the player - it is simple and intuitive to use.


Sound quality is very good although I suspect can be improved enormously by upgrading the headphones.


Memory capicity from 8GB is excellent and enables me to carry a wide selection of music with me whilst on holiday.


The chargers design enables you to slide and lock in a variety of plugs for use all over the world - giving a neat and compact solution when traveling abroad. It does not however indicate which type of plug is required in which country. Confusingly there are two very similar two pin continental type plugs provided looking identical except that the metal posts are fractionatley slimmer on one of them. To be on the safe side I guess I will have to take both of them plus my uk 3 pin adaptor on my hols just to make sure at least one of them will work.


Its only slightly inconvenient but could have been easily solved with a brief description in the flimsy instruction sheet that comes with it.


It certainly pays to shop around - I would not recommend this player if you were to fork out in excess of 𧴜 for it, however at 㿞 for 8GB I feel it is excellent value for money - just remember to get a working charger at the same time !

Driver

January 22, 2009, 8:30 pm

My wife and I share the player as we listen to 'talking books' and connect the player to her PC for charging and downloading this works perfectly...





However there are times when we go away visiting and we purchased a non 'Creative Specific' charger to keep the Zen happy and us entertained whilst we are away from home. It was only after the first evening that the charging issue came to the fore. For some strange reason the Zen charged once from the purchased charger and has refuse to do so again BUT it does play back using the charger as a power source, very strange.





My wife also runs her computer under Linux and the Zen charges and plays quite happily when the computer is in Linux mode, although the software detects the player as a bulk storage device rather than an MP3 player. We do use the supplied data lead for connections so is that why it works? Who knows? Ceratinly not Creative.





Other than the charging issue the Zen has been problem free in operation although getting a talking book to play in scene order seems to be at the whim of the player. No amount of fiddling with play lists and track markers can influence the Zen to toe the line. It appears that the alpha track sort is of higher priority to numaic so tracks begining with an 'A' play before track '1'.





Worse occures on albums... to use Quadraphenia by The Who as an example Disc 2 commences with 5:15 and this will ALWAYS play first...in fact the whole of disc 2 plays before disc 1 which is utter carp in the case of concept or soundtrack albums.





Talking books are our main interest and many may feel that who dunnits are highly entertaining when the murder scene appears after the sumation scene. But there is a limit to the fun when the murder might be from a completely different story by a different author.





MP3 program and playback algorythms still have a lot to learn if the full potential is to be embraced and the manufacturer's development teams need to get out of their ivory towers and into the real world to talk to end users whose brains have not been pounded to mush by the unending formulaic twaddle that passes for the current pop music scene.





Some of us use their products for a completely different listening experience and could do with an EQ setting which improves the speech frequency band. 300hz - 4khz. Rather than the more usual eyeball rattling bass coupled to ear bleeding treble.





It would also be handy if manufacturers realised consumers won't be ring fenced by monopolistic specialist extras. If your product won't work without a dedicated and expensive add-on many will not buy. Certainly when the Zen dies it will not be replaced by another Creative product.





Once bitten...twice shy!

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