Extra features are all very well, but music playback should be the focus for any device of this type, and happily the Mozaic doesn’t disappoint. Support for file formats runs to MP3, WMA (including DRM), AAC, WAV and Audible formats – impressive, though the omission of FLAC and Apple Lossless support is a touch disappointing.
And sound quality is very good too. As with most Creative music players I’ve listened to over the years, the Mozaic’s sound is balanced and detailed. There’s just enough bass without it becoming overblown, plenty of clear detail at the top end, but it rarely becomes harsh or difficult to listen to. The mids – the most important aspect – are defined, substantial and punchy.
I hooked up my usual reference headphones and kicked off some listening tests with a short burst from Mozart’s Requiem, which revealed admirable control. It’s perhaps not the most exciting and involving sound, but you can hear all the details, without things becoming confused or muddled.
Moving onto a touch of jazz and Lisa Ekdahl’s piercing vocals on Cry Me A River are delivered with acceptable confidence and clarity. The double bass, so easy to get wrong, is substantial but doesn’t drown the rest of the music out, and the piano sparkling and well-defined. For a player costing under £50, there’s really nothing wrong here: it presents a coherent and convincing musical picture, though it’s worth noting you’ll need to replace the rather average bundled earbuds to get the best out of it.
There’s not much wrong with the Mozaic. Despite the limited video functions, the rest of it is a success: it’s easy to use, looks good, sounds good and is stuffed with useful extra features. But the price for this, at around £46, could be a sticking point.
The main competition, oddly enough, comes from its own stable. The 2GB version of the Creative Zen is available online for around £10 more with the same interface and feature set, but a better screen and memory expansion. If the Mozaic was a little cheaper or had memory expansion we’d have no hesitation in recommending it, but as it is the Zen is marginally the better buy.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8