Creative Labs Zen
- FM radio tuner, calendar and contact manager, excellent audio quality, long battery life, voice recorder
- Monochrome blue-on-blue screen
An elegant solution with excellent audio quality and a few unique but unobtrusive features.
Price$ 399.95 (AUD)
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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Asus TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A review: This 4K monitor plays nice with consoles
- 2 Firewalla Gold review: Powerful home network security in a tiny box
- 3 Alienware AW3423DW review: Quantum dot OLED renders rival monitors obsolete
- 4 Acer Aspire 5 review: An affordable laptop that’s enjoyable to use
- 5 Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 review: This gaming laptop oozes luxurious power
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
Set up is effortless.
The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.
Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
- Best Unlimited Internet Deals in 2022
- Microsoft’s universal ‘One Outlook’ client just leaked out
- Liquid Retina vs. Liquid Retina XDR: Which display is better?
- 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