Creative ZEN X-Fi
Portable media player with Wi-Fi connectivity
- Stylish design, wide array of formats supported, lots of features, large storage capacity
- Wireless connectivity of limited usefulness, keypad makes it difficult to type, X-Fi modes not worth using, SD card slot poorly implemented
The Creative ZEN X-Fi continues the tradition of past ZEN players, offering a compelling alternative to the iPod range. However, Wi-Fi and the X-Fi modes are poorly implemented and don't bring much to the table.
Price$ 399.95 (AUD)
For a while now people have been waiting for a refresh of Creative's popular ZEN series of players; at last it has happened in the form of the ZEN X-Fi. This time around Creative has managed to pack in its popular X-Fi soundcard technology, along with Wi-Fi connectivity.
While these features are good in theory, there are some problems with their implementation. The key layout on the ZEN X-Fi could also use a little work. Nonetheless, this is another solid portable media player from Creative.
The biggest feature of this unit is undoubtedly its wireless connectivity. It offers a few possibilities, notably the ability to copy music across the network wirelessly, but it is slower than transfer over a USB cable.
Another wireless feature is the chat option. Users can chat via Yahoo Messenger, MSN or Creative's own messaging service. Unfortunately, the implementation has several problems.
Firstly, you can't be online when listening to music. Secondly, the keypad is extremely frustrating. It is laid out like a mobile phone keypad, so you navigate around the onscreen keyboard then tap the key multiple times to pick which letter you want. It is slow, tedious and not at all suited to typing long messages.
This isn't aided by the keys themselves, which are a little tough to press at times. This wasn't a problem during general operation, but in situations requiring lots of rapid keystrokes it made things difficult. Aside from this issue, however, the interface was easy to navigate, with Creative implementing its standard menu system, which will be familiar to past users.
Audio quality was fairly good, but not outstanding. Highs were rich and the low range had some punch, but we felt that detail was a little lacking at times. However, the ZEN X-Fi does come with a better-than-average pair of ear buds. They aren't going to satisfy audiophiles, but they are leaps and bounds ahead of the stock ear buds that are bundled with most MP3 players.
Users will probably want to stay away from the X-Fi modes. This technology, previously only found in Creative's soundcard range, was until recently unable to be placed into a portable device due to power requirements. While it appears Creative has succeeded, the end result is a pretty watered-down version of the real thing.
There are two modes, the crystalliser and the expander. The crystalliser does fill out the sound a little more, but it makes everything less controlled and gives it a synthetic tone. The expander enhances bass impact but muffles all the other registers, as if you're listening through a piece of cloth. We vastly preferred our music without either running.
Other features of the ZEN X-Fi include video, photos, FM radio and voice recording. The screen is fairly good quality and videos looked impressive during testing.
Our test unit was the 32GB version, although a 16GB model is also available. If you want to expand the memory further, there is an SD card slot. However, files on the SD card won't show up with files stored in the onboard media as a single list, and a lot of the basic functionality such as sorting and playlists can't be done to files on SD cards.
The ZEN X-Fi supports MJPEG, WMV9, MPED4-SP3, DivX3 4/5 and XviD3 codecs for video and MP3, WMA, AAC4 (.M4A), WAV (ADPCM) and Audible 4 for audio. We struggled to get the unit showing up as a removable drive on our Windows XP test machines. Once we'd installed the bundled software we could drag and drop files onto the device, but it refused to show up on several PCs when plugged in until Creative's software was installed.
Join the newsletter!
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
cloudandco Smart Cane
Apple iPhone X
Toys for Boys
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Google Daydream View VR Headset
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
Bose SoundLink Micro
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Xbox One X
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 2 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 3 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
- How Microsoft's wading into 'fake news' with Bing's opinion-based search results
- Star Wars gift guide: Top picks for fans who are tech geeks
- Windscribe Pro review: It's all about the extras
- Lenovo Y Gaming Mechanical Keyboard and Precision Mouse review: Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none
- FCC votes to kill net neutrality in an unsurprising move. What happens now?
PCW Evaluation Team
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.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- 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
- FTPlatform Architect - InfrastructureOther
- FTAPS6 Data Management OfficerACT
- TPBusiness Intelligence Analyst|Software DeveloperQLD
- FTDevOps EngineerNSW
- FTSenior Android DeveloperOther
- FTBusiness AnalystOther
- FTPython and Java DeveloperOther
- CCProduct ManagerACT
- TPSenior Project OfficerNSW
- FTSystems Admin ( Linux)Other
- FTApplication Support SpecialistVIC
- TPSenior Project ManagerNSW
- FTData EngineerOther
- TPTechnical WriterACT
- FTSolution DesignerOther
- FTBroker Support/ Applications SupportOther
- CCTechnical Lead - DigitalNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst - Networks / TelecommunicationsOther
- CCProcess Improvement Specialist - TelcoVIC
- FTScrum MasterOther
- FTSecurity AnalystOther
- CCReporting AnalystNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- CCRadio Frequency Design EngineerSA
- FTNetwork Services ManagerOther