It is an undeniable that the real race in the MP3 player market is for second place. Realistically no one is going to catch Apple, at least for the next few years, and to this end Creative and Sony have been leading a large chasing pack for some considerable time. So fierce is this competition that the former’s flagship offering, the Zen Sleek, (which we positively reviewed last month) has already had an update.
Now called the Zen Sleek Photo, the name change rather gives away its major new feature: a 160 x 128 pixel, 262K colour screen. It is lightly smaller than the previous blue LED backlit one (1.7in to 2in) and we would’ve liked to see more image formats supported than just Jpegs, but battery life has been upped 60 minutes to a creditable 19 hours.
Customisable themes have been introduced too, with eight preposterously named colour schemes available ("Heart", "Cool", "Vibrant", "Peace", "Romantic", "Pastel", "Jungle" and "Fire"… I feel dirty all over) and photos can be set as wallpaper. Otherwise size (59 x 191 x 17.1mm), weight (157g), capacity (20GB), interface and just about everything else you care to mention remains the same while, curiously, it looks like Creative is planning to sell the two products side by side, for the mean time at least.
We don’t have any pricing or availability details yet, but my Santa’s Elves sense is tingling which tells me the player has a 100 per cent chance of being out for Chrimbo. Expect it to debut around the same price as the old Sleek which had a launch RRP of £179.99 including that nasty VAT stuff.
I may qualify as a Santa helper, but I'm no fully fledged elf just yet. It turns out the Sleek Photo will retail for £219 all in. That puts it at the same price as the new (video) ipod which, apart from the obvious extra functionality, also has 50 per cent more capacity. I guess whether you buy a Sleek Photo or not now all depends on how far you are prepared to carry your anti-iPod banner...