Product Type: Creative MP3 players
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A Chunky Classic
Creative Zen Micro 4 GB
Member Name: sharper_fin
Creative Zen Micro 4 GB
Advantages: Does what it should exceedingly well
Disadvantages: No longer being made
While the rest of the world have spent the last decade or so listening to their music on generations of Apple's iPod machines, I've taken a different route. I've been listening to my mobile music on Creative's Zen line of MP3 players and the Creative Zen Micro was one of the first ones I bought.
It measures 8.5 cm by 5 cm and is 2 cm thick, so by most modern music player standards it's quite large. It has a white body with a silver control plate that has a clear sort of khaki coloured screen in it. It's quite hefty, weighing four ounces (about 115 grammes) but feels very solid. I've dropped this loads of times including one very bouncy trip all the way down a flight of stairs but, apart from a few minor scuffs, it's survived them all completely intact.
On the top of the machine are sockets for earphones and a USB connector and a slidey switch that turns it on and off, and locks the control plate so you can't accidently operate any controls while it's (for example) in your pocket. The faceplate itself is a lovely tactile thing that feels like brushed aluminium, with ridges and nodules to separate various control areas like play/pause, forwards and backwards, volume and view menu. The 3.5 cm by 2 cm screen displays track and album details when you're playing something and a scrolling list when working your way through a menu. It sounds quite complicated but is actually really simple and intuitive.
Sticking music onto the Zen is about as simple as it gets. There's none of this having to have a special file type and signing in to a particular company's store. You just plug it into a computer and it shows in explorer as an extra memory. Then you can just drag and drop MP3 files onto it. Simple.
The sound is more than adequate for this kind of machine although I have to admit that I would like it to go a little louder on occasion. But I can't fault the quality of the playback. It's not tinny at all but full and rich throughout the entire aural spectrum. Over the years I've used it to listen to everything from thrash metal to gentle string quartets and spoken word and it's handled all of them beautifully. Obviously much of the sound quality that you hear comes down to what earphones you use but the ones that came with this were pretty good for a relatively cheap set.
At four gig the memory isn't the biggest in the world but it equates to somewhere in the region of a thousand songs. It might not hold your entire music collection but it's big enough for most uses. It also has a radio and a voice recorder. Honestly, when I first got my Zen Micro I tried both of these a couple of times each just to see how they worked and that was it, so I can't really comment on them.
I can't remember what I paid but that's really irrelevant as it was nine years or so ago. I've seen some on eBay recently going for around £80 and I think that would be a fair price if this player were still on the market today. Sadly it's been discontinued in favour of newer and supposedly better machines, but it still does a perfectly adequate job. If it ain't broke etc...
Despite being almost ten years old my Zen Micro is still going strong and I regularly listen to it even now. How many Apple fans can say the same about those early iPods?
Summary: A fantastic, sadly neglected machine
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