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Creative Zen Preview

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If you're a regular reader of TrustedReviews, you will have probably read about Creative's new Zen player when Gordon covered it in the news section a few days ago. But now I've had some hands on time with Creative's new baby, I thought I should go into a little more detail.

Having seen pictures of the new Zen, it came as no surprise that Creative wanted to make a big fuss of the new player at IFA, but the pictures really don't do it justice. The new Zen is one of those products that you just want to pick up and play with as soon as you see it. It looks simply superb - with a glossy black fascia and screen, the Zen epitomises the modern gadget, although as with many devices of this ilk, it's also a fingerprint magnet. If you're obsessed with your gadgets constantly looking their best, you may need to carry a polishing cloth around with you and wear white cotton gloves whenever touching your Zen!
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When we reviewed the Creative Zen Vision M we thought that it was a superb player, although slightly bulky in comparison to an iPod. However, with the new Zen, Creative has take the screen from the old Zen Vision M and thrown away the whole bottom half of the player. OK, so the controls have been tacked onto the side of the screen, but this really is a svelte personal media player by anyone's standards. But the slim dimensions of 83 x 55 x 12mm (WxHxD) only tell part of the story, because the tapered rear of the Zen means that it fits in your palm perfectly, making it comfortable to hold when navigating, or even when watching a video. There was no weight disclosed for the Zen, but it feels pretty light in the hand.

Creative claims that the 2.5in screen sports a true 16.7 million colours - a true 8-bit screen in a device this small is quite impressive, considering that many full size PC monitors only sport 6-bit panels. With a resolution of 320 x 240, the screen should be on a par with the majority of media based mobile phones available today. That said, the screen on the Zen did look surprisingly sharp and vivid, just as the screen in the Zen Vision M did. Obviously a 2.5in screen isn't gong to give you the best movie watching experience, but if you've considered watching video on an iPod, the Zen is offering you a potentially better solution in a far smaller package.
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Talking of video, the Zen supports MPEG 4, DivX, XviD and WMV, so you should be able to drag and drop your video collection to the device without the need for transcoding. Video appeared to be smooth and well resolved, but of course I was watching content that was put on the device by Creative. When I get a review sample in the lab, I'll put a selection of different format video on the Zen and see how it copes.

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