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.
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.
Score in detail