Creative Zen X-Fi2

The Creative Zen X-Fi2 is portable media player with a touch screen and 16GB of inbuilt storage

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Creative Zen X-Fi2

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality, plenty of features

Cons

  • Interface can sometimes be slightly sluggish, the body feels cheap and flimsy

Bottom Line

Creative has impressed us with the latest addition to its gutsy range of media players. One could easily mistake the Creative Zen X-Fi2 for an Apple product, and overall it's a lovely lightweight portable media player.

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The Creative Zen X-Fi2 is a 16GB portable media player with a touch screen and gesture support that's reminiscent of the iPod Touch but not as elegant. It can handle a vast array of music and video file formats, and it has built-in extras such an FM radio, microphone and calendar.

The Creative Zen X-Fi2 looks like an iPhone or iPod Touch — this is not necessarily a bad thing, however. Unfortunately it feels somewhat flimsy: the Creative Zen X-Fi2 creaks when you hold it and feels like it could easily be broken.

However, despite its dubious build quality the Creative Zen X-Fi2 has a very nice set of features. For starters, it has 16GB of internal memory and there is a Micro SD card slot for memory expansion.

The interface is almost entirely based on touch-screen navigation. Just like the iPhone and iPod Touch, it has a button just below the screen that takes you back to the main menu. Another tiny button on the side of the Zen X-Fi2 doubles as a power and screen-lock button.

At the bottom of the X-Fi2 is a 3.5mm headphone jack that also acts as an AV out port. It sits right next to a USB port for connecting to your PC and uploading music, movies, photos and task lists to the Zen X-fi2.

Putting music on the Zen X-Fi2 is as simple as dragging and dropping files in Windows, but loading videos is a clumsy process. This PMP will accept DviX- and XviD-encoded files, but only if they are first converted to a format the player will recognise. This is done through the Creative Centrale software, which can be installed from the player itself (there is no software CD); the application works under Windows 7.

Depending on the length of the video file and the speed of your computer, this conversion process can take a very long time. For example, converting a one hour XviD-encoded video on a netbook with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU can take almost two hours. The worst part about it is that the Zen X-Fi2 has to remain connected to the computer throughout the conversion process.

An FM radio with 32 presets is a nice feature. Reception is relatively clear, and you can navigate through all the stations by flicking your finger across the screen. Another thing we like about the X-Fi2 is the inclusion of an alarm clock. The alarm can be an irritating beep, a song from the music library or the radio. A calendar, contacts list, RSS feed, and task list are also available. Whether one would actually use these features is debatable — most modern mobile phones offer them.

The 3in touch screen tends to pick up finger prints easily; however, it is bright and clear. Its viewing angles are only average, though.

The noise-cancelling ear buds that come with the Creative Zen X-Fi2 are great. We were incredibly impressed with sound quality overall. Like other members of the Creative family, the X-Fi2 has user-adjustable settings, so you can fine-tune audio to suit your preferences. One of the options we liked was volume restriction, which in our opinion every MP3 player should have. Not only can listening to music too loudly damage your ears, but it can also be dangerous when, for example, crossing the street and not hearing a car come round the corner.

Are you one of those people that have so much music you often completely forget about various albums and artists you have? Creative has that covered: there is an option in the "DJ" mode that will play tracks that you haven't listened to frequently. Or if you are at the opposite end of the spectrum, you can play the tracks you listen to most often. If you are keen to mix things up, then simply set the player to the random mode.

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