Top positive review
101 people found this helpful
Very Good mp3 player
on 20 September 2010
After 5 years of use, the on/off switch stopped working properly on my old Creative zen micro. This, and the fact I was running out of memory, forced me to look into buying a new player. I read a lot of reviews and did a lot of research on various mp3 players but in the end I stuck with Creative due to my past positive experience with the zen micro (which I loved) and due to their reputation for good sound quality. This review is based on the 16gb version with the latest firmware downloaded.
I won't go into detail as these are well documented in the description but the player lets you play music (various file formats supported), videos, and view photos. There's also an RSS reader, FM radio (which sounds good if you can get decent reception), microphone and a built in speaker, which is nothing to write home about but you wouldn't expect a speaker of this size to be. The player itself is small, light and looks good. The screen is clear, bright and colourful.
*Ease of use*
After using the scroll wheel of i-pods and the touch-pad of the zen micro, I was a bit apprehensive about the buttons on the player, but thankfully they do the job pretty well, and are preferable over a scroll-wheel/touch pad in some ways as they are more precise. My only criticism is that the buttons could be a bit easier to press down, but this is only a minor complaint and they work perfectly well. The plus side is that this means there's no need to lock the player, as the buttons never get pressed accidently in your pocket, so if you want to change the volume or skip the track quickly all you have to do is take the player out of your pocket and press the up/down button (volume whilst a track is playing) or the right direction button (next track). Having said that, locking the player turns the screen off and saves battery life so this might be preferable. This is done simply by pressing the on/off switch once (holding it down for a couple of seconds turns the player off).
The menu system is almost identical to my previous zen micro which is a very good thing, as it's really easy to use. You can also customise the menu. For example, I've put artists at the top, as this is what I use most. When you're in the artist menu you can click on the right direction button and scroll down to the the letter of the alphabet you need to access the artist you want quicker, which saves you having to scroll down through the entire list of artists. You can change the background to one of the 6 different themes or if you like you can load a picture onto the player and set that as the background instead, so it's very customisable.
One really useful feature is the shortcut button, which you can assign to pretty much anything you want, i.e. volume/now playing/random play all/turn on speaker etc. I have this set to 'now playing' as you get direct access to the volume from there as well.
In terms of getting music onto the player this is really simple. You can just drag and drop files onto the player, or use a piece of organiser software like windows media player or the bundled software, creative centrale (which isn't as bad as most people make out). It amazes me that someone gave this player a one star review based on the centrale software alone; if you don't like it, you don't need to use it!
The sound quality is excellent. The optional x-fi crystalliser (which is meant to restore detail lost during compression of digital music) works pretty well. I wouldn't say it makes a *massive* difference, and the player sounds good with or without the crystalliser on, but it definitely makes the low and high end clearer and brings tracks to life a bit. I tend to have it set around 30-40%, as if you set it too high music tends to sound a bit overproduced. There's also an expander which is supposed to replicate a live/on stage sound, but I don't really use this. There's also a customisable equaliser as well as a few presets. The bundled earphones are ok but I'd go for a better pair if you don't already own some. I use Creative EP-630's which you can pick up pretty cheaply but sound great, as do Sennheiser CX-300's (I'd buy from a reputable place though as due to their popularity there are a lot of convincing fakes knocking around).
I bought this as a music player so I haven't used these features much. However, photos and videos actually look very good despite the player not having a particularly high resolution screen, and although I wouldn't watch anything for long on a screen this size it's nice to have this as an option. My personal view is that mp3 players are for playing music; I can't see why anyone would buy an mp3 player to watch videos on as the screens are relatively small even on larger players, but that's just my opinion :)
Overall, I'm really pleased with this mp3 player. It ticks all the boxes; It's easy to use, has great sound quality, and is small and light for putting in your pocket. It's also worth mentioning that this player cost me considerably less than my zen micro did 5 years ago, yet it has over 3 times the memory, better sound and more features. Great value in my opinion. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.
Update: I'd definitely recommend going into recovery mode and performing a clean-up if you've added a lot of music onto your player in one go like I did, this speeded up the interface noticeably (it now seems to be running as fast as when I first got it). I'll probably do this periodically to keep the system running quickly.