Creative Zen

Ever since it introduced its first portable MP3 player, Creative has struggled to get the aesthetics right. It's still struggling. New Creative Zen 20G looks more like a voltage meter than the last word in high-fashion e-wear, although it's otherwise a very fine product.

Creative claims Zen can deliver 11 hours of MP3 music between recharges. It takes about four hours to recharge Zen using USB 2.0 power.

Much like Sony with its Walkman products, Creative has kept Zen simple, focusing on delivering quality audio and long battery life instead of weighing it down with an array of additional features. The extra features it does have are quite logical and unobtrusive, such as an in-built calendar, FM tuner, voice recorder and a mode called removable disk mode, which allows Zen to act as a high-capacity transport for files of any type. It weighs just 140.5g.

Controlling Zen is managed through five face buttons and a glide-pad-like scroller (which even makes a clicking noise when used to indicate that it is, indeed, scrolling). The scroller and the play controls work very well--it takes little time to adjust to them, and once you have, navigating through your songs is a breeze. It could have used a button for quick access to voice recording, but navigating through the menu to get to the voice recorder is relatively painless. Its audio output during our tests was very good, delivering excellent MP3 playback even at low bit-rates, although the audio could be a bit flat at times. It has an internal EQ with presets. It also tuned and played back FM radio well, and even had an auto-scanner for presets.

Zen has is an internal calendar and contacts manager that you can sync with Microsoft Outlook. It's quite a neat little personal information manager, not overly complicated or detailed, but enough to keep things running. Zen comes with some very slick software called Creative MediaSource, which takes an age to install but is well worth the wait. It's a media player, converter, playlist manager and transfer tool. It's well-designed and powerful. Also included is a much simpler tool, called the Zen Media Explorer, which is designed for one-button synching between your PC music library or data files, ripping CDs directly to Zen and downloading your Outlook schedule and contacts to Zen.

Zen does not present itself to the operating system as a removable hard disk, but goes one better. It has excellent Windows Explorer integration, appearing in the device list on the left hand side, with a logical (not actual) file system that allows you to drag and drop files into the Music or Data folders.

It's hard not to like Zen. It plays music well, has some excellent PC software, and FM radio tuner and even has a small PIM application built into the player.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nathan Taylor

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?