Product Type: Creative MP3 players
Newest Review: ... was not what I expected and since then I have upgraded and would not necessarily buy Creative again, unless they made some decent changes. ... more
Creative Zen MX sounds like music to my ears
Creative Zen MX 8 GB
Member Name: Craggybuk
Creative Zen MX 8 GB
Advantages: My review What's in for me? A useful and well-written review helps other users to make better decis
Disadvantages: Doesnt support iTunes AAC music format
As I was buying my wife a new car with an auxiliary connection, she decided that in order to make full use of this, I could also buy her an MP3 player to connect to it. Ever eager to please, I did my homework online to find a suitable player. She wasn't interested in the iPod range as they were too feature rich and quite pricey for her needs. All she wanted was a bog standard MP3 player which would sit alongside her in the car and just play music. Whilst browsing Amazon, I came across the Creative Zen MX, it offered more than a bog standard MP3 player but without the cost of an iPod. I quickly ordered the device and waited patiently for it to arrive.
==In the box==
When the Zen arrived, I was surprised at how small it was. Measuring 83mm wide by 55mm tall by 12 mm deep, this really is a nice compact player. As well as the device, you get a set of headphones, a USB cable and a quick installation guide. The Zen doesn't ship with a mains cable but this can be bought separately meaning that unless you buy this, you will always need to charge it up via your PC which could prove problematic if you want to take it on holiday with you.
==Installing the software==
In order to synch the Zen with your PC, you must install the Creative Centrale application which manages communications between the 2 devices. This software is actually shipped on the Zen itself which I thought was quite clever as it means there is no need for a CD in the box, nor the need to download the application.
On running the Centrale Installation, you are required to register your Zen for future upgrades and additional warranty support. Once the upgrade has been completed, you are now able to start copying content onto the Zen.
==Tour of the Zen MX==
There isn't actually a great deal to discover about the Zen MX. Approximately three quarters of the device is taken up with its 2.5 inch screen which has a 320 x 240 resolution. This screen is extremely clear and can display upto 16.7 million colours. To the right of the screen are the navigation buttons in the form of an outer square (with directions of left, right , up and down) with an inner square as the accept button. Below the navigation buttons are the play/pause button and the power/standby button. These buttons are self explanatory so I wont go into detail about them.
If we twist the Zen to the left so that the right hand edge is facing us we will see the USB connector which allows us to connect the Zen to the PC. Above the USB connector we will find the headphone socket. Both the USB and headphone sockets are standard ports which means you will be able to use any headphones or USB cable with the Zen.
==What does it do?==
The primary use of the Zen is to play music. The two main music formats are supported (MP3 and WMA) however to my cost after buying my wife a £15 iTunes voucher, the iTunes AAC format is not supported. You can purchase software which will convert these into MP3 files should you wish but this was too much effort for me so we just bought the Cd's in the end and ripped the tracks to MP3 files. The Zen also supports the ID3 tag system which means you get the correct song title, artist and album displayed when the track is playing.
As well as stored music, the Zen also comes with a built in FM radio. As with most mobile phones, you will need the headphones to be connected when listening to the radio as the aerial antenna is located in the headphones themselves. You can store upto 32 radio stations which in my opinion is more than enough to keep you going. These can then be retrieved by using the navigation buttons to scroll through the programmed stations.
You can watch movies on the Zen, although I haven't tried this myself, the unit does ship with a demo video of about 20 seconds. When I watched this, I was amazed at the clarity of the video and the distinct lack of ghosting that I was expecting. When copying movies onto the Zen, the Centrale software will convert the file into Creatives own CTV format.
The final thing you can do with your Zen is view photos on it. I am personally not a great fan of this as, because the screen is a similar size to those on digital cameras you don't really get to see all the detail in a photo. It would be ok to use for one-off photos but I wouldn't really want to see a full slide show on it. JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG and TIFF file formats are supported.
My wife and I are really impressed with the Zen MX. We feel the sound quality is as good as you would get out of the iPod (both children have iPods so I can make this statement with confidence). The user interface is also simple and intuitive to use making this a perfect device for technophobes or experienced users alike. As yet, I am yet to find any real negative with the Zen apart from the fact that you cannot play iTunes music directly.
I paid £70 from Amazon for the Zen MX 8Gb version which is considerably cheaper than an 8Gb iPod Nano which offers similar functionality. You can also get 16 and 32Gb versions but I would always go for the 8Gb version and use an external SD memory card if you found, further down the line you needed more storage space.
Summary: An excellent alternative to the iPod
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