Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars adequate but not amazing, 2 April 2006
This review is from: Creative Zen 20GB MP3 Player - Black (Electronics)
The Good:
-It's a 20Gb player. Lots of space for lots of music.
-It sounds pretty good. Not as good as my last player, a Rio Karma (RIP), but pretty damn good.
-No-nonsense software. Appears in windows explorer, just drag and drop your music on and there you go, it's on the player. Ease of use much appreciated.
-Metal body gives good durability.
-Small and fairly light.
-Quick charging.
-For some reason people like the fact that you can make playlists on the fly. I don't understand this, if I get bored I just stick it on random, but if you like that idea, this will let you do it.
-Other bells and whistles that will pick songs for you - play favourites, play least often heard, play from specific year etc (like my Karma did).
-Can act as a removable hard drive.
-You can configure the player's menus yourself.
-You can get a remote control.
-MP3 and WMA support. No built in DRM crap either.
-Configurable EQ.
-Microphone.
-Rather nice blue glow, which voobs when charging (like my Karma did).
The Bad:
-Touchpad controls. You have to be looking at it and touching carefully in order to get it to do what you want. This is fiddly, bothersome and invites mugging. Standard buttons and dials can be operated under clothing/without having to look much easier.
-Bad response on touchpad. If like me you have all your music in one big playlist, it can take literally minutes to scroll from one end to the other. The "buttons", especially the ridiculously shrunken play/pause, are similarly picky about when to take notice of you prodding them. Also, the slidy control is both volume and tracklist control, taking only a light tap to switch from volume to playlist. A light tap can be very light - like as light as putting your finger on there in preparation for adjusting volume.
-Badly positioned controls. Unless you get some kind of case that you can attach to yourself (mine stays strapped to my left arm), you need to use both hands to operate it with any degree of effectiveness. This is a common problem for HDD players, however. Blame Apple.
-It's easy to get songs on, but damn time consuming to make playlists of any length. You can't import playlists either, you have to make them from scratch. Took me 2 days to recreate my 3369-song full Winamp playlist from the ground up, but importing an .m3u file would have taken all of 5 seconds.
-Rubbish battery life. Even with moderate volume, EQ off and all snazzy yet power-draining lighting turned off, I find I have to charge it every day or so. My Rio Karma was much more forgiving.
-Non-removable battery. This is fairly standard, but apparently the 6Gb version has a removable battery, which kind of rankles.
-Slightly larger than the 6Gb version, so does not fit accessories (not that there are many, though)
-Random play is not really random, tending to cycle between a handful of places in the playlist.
-Removable Hard Drive mode must be selected and data is placed on a seperate partition from music. No giving your friends your music, like you did on tape in the '80s, that's too evil to be allowed now.
-Microphone only records 10 minutes maximum, so useless for concerts etc.
-Let's face it, it's bloody ugly.
My Conclusion:
I'll never buy another player with touchpad controls. They suck. I'll also prioritise battery life next time. However, the ease with which this player communicates with my PC (my main beef with my Rio Karma) is commendable. It's small, light, seems durable and sounds pleasant. With the addition of a decent case it's adequate but not amazing.
A USEFUL FACT: If you own a PSP and one of these, a USB charger for a PSP will also charge this. If you have one of those combined data/charge cables, you can even charge the PSP off the charge plug and the Zen off the USB data plug at the same time! However, DON'T charge the Zen from a mains PSP charger, it's too high in amperage.
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3.8 out of 5 stars (159 customer reviews)
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