Creative Zen (2GB)
- 2.5in screen, has FM and microphone functions, SD slot, silky video playback
- Our MP4 files couldn't be transcoded for use on the player, ships with a short USB cable, a little heavy on the bass frequencies
For videos, music, photos and more, you can't beat the Zen. It's one of the most versatile players on the market, it's well built and it'll give you many hours of enjoyment.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
Forget about the iPod Nano, the best small media player is Creative's Zen. And now that it's available in a 2GB version, it's more affordable than ever. Not only is it a flash-based media player, it also has an FM tuner and a built-in microphone – functionally, at least, you'll get a lot more out of it than you would with a Nano.
It's got a very responsive menu interface, which can be navigated by a thumb control as well as a couple of shortcut keys, but a magnificent 2.5in, 4:3 LCD screen is the main attraction. It's easy to fall in love with this vibrant little player the first time you use it. You can view song, artist or album lists and play them straight away or add them to a running playlist. And instead of scrolling through long lists, you can skip through your content alphabetically.
A shortcut button on the player can be set to choose an 'album of the day' for you, which is convenient if you've got stacks of music and can't decide on what you want to hear. Subsequent presses will play different albums.
It's a breeze to use and is a very handy player for anyone who spends a lot of time commuting on public transport. It'll sit snugly in the palm of your hand as you watch video, but of course you can also view photos and listen to music, or even view photos while listening to music. Its battery life is also quite good. It played for over 12 hours, which included us listening to music mainly, but also watching video files. We love the fact that we can stop a video at any time, put on a song or listen to the radio, then go back to the movie later on and pick up where we left off.
Before you get excited, the 2GB Zen requires driver software to be installed from the supplied CD, which was an agonisingly slow setup process, even on a Core 2 Duo E6700-based PC. Zen Media Explorer software is also installed at the same time, and this can be used to import files to the player, but it's not required as files can also be dragged to the player through Windows Explorer. This is more convenient than using the Zen Media Explorer, which is limited to displaying folders in a tree structure only.
A necessary part of the installation is the Creative Video Converter, which is for transcoding videos to the Zen's playable WMV file format. It can harness the power of both cores if you have a PC with a dual-core CPU, and a typical one-hour TV show, transcoded from the XviD file type to a 'good' quality WMV file, took less than 20min to complete on our test system. You can 'set and forget' transcoding operations overnight and then have them automatically transfer to the player when they're done. A limitation of the software is its inability to transcode MP4 files – or at least the files that we threw at it.
Now you can get excited. Transcoded videos played back super-smoothly, with great definition and colour, and there weren't any audio synchronisation problems. The screen did well to handle sunny conditions, but of course, you'll get optimal results when you're not in direct sunlight – you will want to wipe off fingerprints and smudges before you watch. JPEG photos also looked great and the unit's menu labels were crisp and easy to identify.
Music sounded warm, but a little bass heavy through the supplied earphones. Nevertheless, you probably won't find the need to buy new headphones for this player. It won't play store-bought iTunes songs, but it will handle MP3 and WMA files, as well as AAC files which don't have copy protection.
With 2GB of memory, you can store a handful of one-hour TV shows or up to 1388min worth of MP3 files encoded at 192Kbps. Conveniently, an SD slot is present, so you can upgrade the player's capacity easily; yet another reason why this player is so good.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Apple TV will serve as hub for remotely controlling HomeKit devices
- Sony Smart B-Trainer headset gives runners vocal advice
- The iPod classic plays its last
- Apple iPod Touch pricing slashed by up to 25 per cent in Australia
- Apple shows off iPod touch, nano updates
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSenior Project OfficerNSW
- FTSenior MS Server Administrator with HyperVNSW
- FTSolution Architect - SecurityVIC
- TPSOE EngineerACT
- FTIT Security RolesACT
- CCNetwork Architect - SecurityVIC
- FTAsst. Director - Claim Analysis. Work Location - CanberraACT
- FTSenior Information Security SpecialistQLD
- FTRegional Market Manager - Wide Bay RegionQLD
- FTSenior Network Security EngineerACT
- FTTechnical Architect - Network /InfrastructureQLD
- CCBusiness Specialist - Data ManagementNSW
- FTDelivery ExecutiveSA
- TPAutomation TesterQLD
- TPSAS DeveloperWA
- TPEOI - Developer/Tester/Software EngineerACT
- FTSenior Software Engineer - JavaACT
- FTLevel 2/ 3 Systems AdministratorVIC
- TPProject CoordinatorNSW
- CCCitrix SpecialistACT
- FTDatacentre Solution ArchitectVIC
- FTProject Manager- RiskSA
- CCSenior Project Manager - Applications - Data ReportingNSW
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTNetwork EngineerSA