This was my first ever MP3 player and it was way more expensive when I got it those years ago. But now it's pretty cheap and for the price it is an absolutely stonking player!
Build Quality - The Zen sleek is a sturdy machine despite looking so elegant and generally awesome. The back of the player is made from brushed aluminium I believe and the front is a nice sturdy plastic. The buttons respond with a nice click and are in no danger of falling off or anything else disastrous like that. The touch pad sits there firmly and there isn't much to say about it.
The Screen - Don't be put off by the non-colour screen this is an MP3 player after all not a media player. You have here a fine LCD backlit screen (blue backlight which is nice). It's also worth mentioning it's a great size and displays all the details you could want.
Sound Quality - The finest around, get some good headphones and you'll be treated to some great quality sound. Of course you'll have to load it with quality music all you 128kbps people out there, shame on you! The player really does excel for it's main purpose.
Navigation - Absolutely great hierarchical menu with the option to display your music in many different ways such as by artist, genre and song title. The touch pad is a dream and makes a nice clicking sound as you scroll through the menu (can be muted though).
These are the main points but the player offers more such as decent battery life and supplied wall charger. It's also got quirky features that are pretty cool such as album of the day, my new mp3 player doesn't do this. A feature I miss from this is that it lets you see file information on the player such as sound quality, compression and size.
If you're looking for a cheaper but definitely quality player then look no further. It served me well and it could carry on a bit longer. My girlfriend now uses it and it's still going strong.
After previously having an ipod mini, i decided to buy the creative zen sleek as it held alot more songs than the ipod for the same amount of money. This mp3 player has to be the best one i have had so far, though it may not be the best looking as it's rather bulky unlike newer mp3 players. It's easy to use and has a radio too which is a feature not often found on most mp3 players, especially not on ipods. It has games too and can also be used as a storage device. The only problem i had with it is the software which just stopped working one day, though that may have been a problem with my computer. However you could add songs using windows media player which is much easier and quicker than using the software anyway. The battery lasted a long time too and the volume was good unlike on ipods as they seem to only go to a certain level which seems to be quite low. I wish they did a newer version of this product which held more songs now as i have had this for almost 4 years now and am finding it's almost full! This is a great mp3 player that i would recommend to anybody though i'm not so sure it's available anymore but if you can find it somewhere then definitely buy it!
When I was looking for a new MP3 player I was quite specific. After hearing so much bad press about iPods I definately didn't want one of them. 30gb was too much and 5gb not enough! I wanted a colour screen but not a built in video player.
The Creative Zen Sleek Photo has everything that I wanted and more. The product specifications tell you everything you need to know but here it is in a nutshell:
20GB of Memory
Voice Recorder with built-in microphone
Mine is silver and looks quite nice, but I didn't want it to get scratched so I invested in a nice cover for it. Even so, it's quite a headturner with the central touchpad for navigation.
It comes with all the software you could need for it to work with your computer and the software for creating playlists is easy to use.
Battery wise it is amazing. I would estimate it is in the region of 13-15 hours playback which is what I have experienced, not the manufacturers guide.
The touchpad, whilst it takes some getting used to is much easier to use that the wheel on an iPod.
The sound quality is also pretty good, but this is more dependent on your headphones.
It has a colour screen and you can store 1000s of photos on there, but I rarely use this function.
You can recharge it via your PC/Laptop.
One thing that few people realise is that it is compatiable with Napster, whcih does not allow iPods. But it also accepts all the files I have in my iTunes.
You can set your own photos to be the wallpaper!
There are as ever some negatives and here are my views:
You cannot create playlists on the player, you have to do it via your PC.
You can't queue up tracks you want to hear next, but few offer this.
The Radio range is a little strange.
Also, when I was researching it, it appears that UK models may not come with a mains charger, so look into this with whoever you buy it from.
Overall, I am more than happy with my purchase. It does everything I ask it to and more and most importantly, isn't an iPod. I know I have mentioned this a few times but it is true - the guys at Creative know their stuff and if you ever have a problem, aren't a big corporation like Apple so can help you out.
But this if you want something a little different and want to be original!
Last year I bought an MP3 player for my birthday, a 5GB Creative Zen which was about all I could afford at the time. Over time it started to annoy me as I had to select some of my CDs to be banished to obscurity (ie not be put onto the player). Now I love a variety of music and after a year this was really starting to annoy me so I had my eye out for a replacement, larger capacity player. Over a few weeks I narrowed my choice down to another Creative or an I-River. As I had already owned a Creative I wanted to stick to that make although the 2 players had similar reviews, capacity and capabilities. In the end I plumped for the Creative and set out to find myself the best deal and player possible.
The Creative player I ended up buying is the Creative Zen Sleek Photo 20GB and is available through pixmania.com (on Amazon) for around £140 at the time of writing. Luckily for me the player was on sale at Argos and mentioned in a TV advert for only £109.99. Suffice to say the next day I toddled of to my local Argos and picked it up.
Opening the box was a bit of a challenge. Is it just me or are some boxes designed to be tricky to get into, or to get stuff out of. It seems to be a recurring problem for me and Im starting to doubt my all round capability in box matters. Once in the box you will find a manual, CD, charger, USB cable and headphones. You also get a pouch for keeping the player in whilst youre on the go. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, the pouch was very cheaply made and although it does do the job it was designed for I would have expected something a bit higher quality from Creative.
If you are running a computer with Windows Media Player 9 or above I wouldnt bother installing the Creative software as the player is fully functional with WMP and most of us have already got music stored on WMP anyway so it would actually create more work if you were to use Creatives media player. The player handily supports the 2 main formats of music, WMA and MP3 so there is no need to convert songs into special formats as with other players.
Once you have uploaded, downloaded and ripped all the music you want to put onto the player you can then transfer it to the player. This is a quick process and even I (the most impatient person in the world) didnt get annoyed at the time it was taking. There are a couple of ways in which to put music onto the device. The first is to synchronize the player through WMP selecting the tracks you want. The other is to simply drag the albums from My Music to the player which will show up once plugged in under My Computer. Either option is easy although I did find the drag and drop method more convenient as I could transfer albums with one action.
Once you have all the songs stored on your player it is fairly easy to navigate around. The main screen has a menu that contains all the options you would really need. From the main menu you are able to look at you Music Library, Random Play All, search by Artist or Album, even Genre although I find that the automatic labelling function of Genre leaves something to be desired, both in Windows Media Player and Creatives own media software. Importantly you can alter what appears on your front screen in the settings option which is easily accessed from the default front screen.
Anyway, now you know about the player Ill give you some personal opinion of it! I find the Zen Sleek a lot easier to use than the Zen Micro. The buttons are positive buttons in that they actually press down and arent on a touch pad. The scroll bar is still a touch pad but I have never found a problem with it, you can turn down the sensitivity of the touch pad scroller if you need. The player is fairly quick to respond after you have pressed a button and you dont need to wait an age for it to start up or do what you have asked it to.
It looks much better than the ipod in my opinion and the brushed aluminium exterior looks kind of nice and adds to the whole sleekness of the player. The rest of the player is unfortunately white but you cant complain too much, as a package I dont think you would be embarrassed to pull this out of your pocket and show it to your mates, not that youd want to in case some hoodlum nicked it. The screen is big enough to see easily and as it has a colour screen it is more colourful than other players have been. The buttons are backlit with the ubiquitous Creative blue light after youve pressed them and the screen stays lit for about 4 seconds after a button has been pressed although this also is alterable. This is perfectly adequate to see what is being played next. The menu screen is visible for a longer amount of time which is good too.
The sound of this MP3 is really good. I have listened to it in my car (via FM transmitter), through headphones and via a stereo. All of these options result in a better, richer sound than my previous MP3 which I didnt think was that bad to start with. The supplied headphones are sufficient although those of you who like to be different will undoubtedly buy alternative ones.
The viewing screen is perfectly acceptable and as it is a colour screen you are able to display your photos on it. Uploading these to the player is really easy, as you just drag and drop them across onto the player from your PC. Having looked at some of the photos on the player they are not super detailed but what would you expect form something that has a screen only 1.7 inches across! As the screen is colour you can customise the theme that you have, being a girl I currently have mine set to romantic which seems to be mainly pink.
The player also contains an FM radio which picks up all the major stations. You are able to record from the radio also, as well as using the player as a voice recorder. Handy if you like that sort of thing but I use mine for music and photos in the main. If you need to transport files from your PC around you are able to do this with the player by portioning off part of the hard drive as portable storage, this again is not a feature I use and I wouldnt recommend buying the player for this feature alone as there must be cheaper things to buy that are built for that purpose. It is a useful capability to have however, just in case.
I know I have been all positive about this player but there are things that really bug me about it. They arent big enough to make me regret my purchase, but sufficient to lodge themselves in the back of my brain and stay there. Firstly the player seems to need resetting every so often. Whether I had this problem because the player was in a very hot car all day I dont know but I wouldnt recommend heating your player excessively. If you do have a problem where the player freezes, Creative have built in a reset button into the player that you can push with a pin or such like, after you have reset the player all of your tracks will still be there, a minor inconvenience rather than a major annoyance.
My second gripe is that the player does not have a removable battery as the Zen Micro does. This was really reassuring as I knew that if my Micro battery failed I could just buy a new one but this is not the case with the Sleek Photo, a shame I think although I havent had any problems with the battery life at all, in fact, the battery has been nothing less than amazing, easily covering a couple of days driving (really long days too!).
My final annoyance is that the player doesnt have a USB port on it. You have to connect via a special cable that is similar to the one on the ipod. In my opinion having a USB would have been much more user friendly. If you lose this cable you have to replace it whereas previously you could just use the one from your camera for example to do the same job.
Should you have any problems with your MP3 I wholly recommend the Creative technical support who replaced my Zen Micro after about 10 months when I broke it (I think) or it malfunctioned. A new unit winged its way to me with 4 days, no questions asked, a truly excellent service.
So there you go, the Creative Zen Sleek Photo do I recommend it? Why yes I do, with 4 out of 5 stars. It would have been 5 stars but I just cant shake the cable problem out of my mind. It just makes my cables look messy if I have them all attached to the PC!
Have had one of these for about six months or so and have found it great. The software supplied with it is so easy to use and they haven't left out a thing. The only gripe is the headphone cover sponges, don't expect to have them for too long I lost mine after a week. But for the price of a new set of headphones I still think this unit is very good value for money.Make sure you set the sensitivity of the touch controller to low because it is very sensitive and make sure to lock it when in play mode. The capacity of this unit is dependent on the length of tracks and the format. You should be able to fit 10,000 tracks in WMA format at 64kbps and 5,000 mp3 at 128 kbps all these figures based on four minute songs. Battery life you can expect 16 hrs continuous provided you dont keep accessing the menu all the time. There is a task manager,organiser,radio,calendar and contacts facilities on this unit making it your your very own singing filofax. You can also have your own playlist, select rarely heard tracks, most popular tracks or your album of the day. Skipping tracks is no problem, just fast forward to the next. There is a play all function which will play in consecutive order and also my favourite the random play-all so every track is a surprise. All in all a fine unit, the only other disadvantage is the touch pad is still quite sensitive even when set to low, but you soon get used to it.Move over i-pod there is a serios contender for your place
A few months ago I decided that I would join the ever expanding mp3 market and after looking around at what was available I came across this gorgeous looking player! Now the retail price of this was around £180 at the time which is fairly expensive compared to some of the bog standard players that are available but you definitely get what you pay for.
Looks: Creative decided to redesign their Zen model to improve its looks and reduce its bulkiness and have definitely ticked both of these boxes. Everything from the colour scheme & button configuration has been improved and overall the unit looks very sleek!
Screen The screen is 1.7 inches and has a resolution of 160 x 128 pixels. The resolution helps to provide clear readable text and has sufficient room to display the following: battery level, track number, track name/album & artist along with track length which is displayed as a progression bar + timers.
The improve visibility in dark conditions a blue backlight can be enabled which isnt overly bright helping to save on battery consumption but provides sufficient support.
Buttons Fitting in with the new sleek look for Zen the buttons have been redesigned and fit in well with the overall look. Along with the standard hold button to stop unwanted selections there are 7 other buttons available: play/pause, up/down, skip back/skip forward, main menu & quick menu. To aid you in the dark again the blue backlight shines through they keys which looks really good!
Size & Weight Compared to others on the market this unit is fairly large but easily fits in your trouser pockets but is probably better off in a coat pocket.
Dimensions: 59 x 101 x 17 mm
Menus Navigation of the menus is fairly easy when you get used to it, obviously there is a learning curve but after a few days of playing around on it youll be fine. The menus categorise your songs by artist, albums or all tracks which is useful depending on what mood of playback youre after.
Software The software supplied on the CD to transfer music over to your Zen is straight forward to use but again there is a learning curve. It helps to provide support so even if youre not confident with computers you will be fine. It gives you the option to label up your tracks quickly and easily which was a very useful feature because some of my sounds were just known as track 1 which is not helpful when you have loads with the same name!
HDD Size The built in hard drive is capable of storing up to 20 GBs or the equivalent of around 4000 MP3s which are 5 MB each. The hard drive itself is fairly silent and does not suffer from extreme heat so the unit does not get overly warm. When holding the unit you can sometimes feel the hard drive spinning around but it does not vibrate. Transferring tracks over to your Zen using the supplied software is extremely quick. I timed most of the tracks taking 1-2 seconds to copy across so even if you plan to fill the unit it will not take much time. Please note that to maximise the speed you require a USB 2.0 port but this is not necessary as all USB products are backwards compatible.
I have tried the unit with two different sets of headphones and the sound quality is really good! Although it does depend on the quality of the music you are transferring over to the unit. I would advise investing in a really good pair of earphones if you are fussy about extreme quality but for the average user the supplied headphones are sufficient.
The supported sound formats are: MP3: Up to 320 kbps WAV: Up to 48 kHz, 16-bit, Stereo/Mono WMA: Up to 320 kbps WMA. The unit is also capable of recording sound but I have not used this feature so cannot comment on it.
The battery included is very impressive supposedly capable of playing music for around 19 hours before needing to be recharged. I usually find that I need to charge once a week but I do listen every day while I travel.
Basic features are Playback, sound recorder (using built in microphone) & radio.
Whats included in the box along with the Zen Sleek?
1 x Earphones (fairly decent but you might want to upgrade)
1 x Power adaptor which doubles up as the PC USB cable
1 x Pouch (to prevent scratches, high quality)
1 x CD (containing all the necessary PC software)
I am extremely impressed with this unit! I believe it was definitely worth the investment and cannot fault this on any level. If you are looking for a good alternative to the iPods then this is a top contender. The looks and design are of a very high standard, you will not be disappointed.
Firstly, apologies for the apalling title....I just got a little excited about this MP3 player. I got it for my birthday in November, and its taken me until now to remember to stop listening to it and loading songs onto it. I won't go into the detail too much, because you can go to the Creative website for that (very good supportive website), I want to concentrate more on why you might or might not want to purchase this player over others on the market.
When I started looking at possible MP3 players I considered the following makes...iPod (how could I not), Creative, Sony and IRiver. The others all fell off at that point due to poor quality, price or lack of features.
Now something inside me just stuck in my throat everytime I looked at or thought about the iPod. Now part of that is probably a refusal to add iTunes to my computer, and part of it is irritation that people are so easaily sucked in to a marketing scheme...but then I also read a lot of user reviews. The industry, (e.g. What HiFi) will tell you that the iPod is the best MP3 player on the market, but the users tell a different story. Endless tails of malfunctioning units, iTunes wiping things from computers, wiping the player if your songs aren't left on your computer amongst many other things. Now many people will argue that these are all issues you can get round. But I don't want to have to do that...I just want a machine that works.
So that narrowed it down a little more. I then decided on the iRiver...a fantastic bit of kit, although slightly more expensive....the one problem. Damn hard to get hold of. The version that I wanted is no longer on sale in the Uk, and the newer versions aren't quite as high in terms of spec. One benefit, they do record direct from stereo through an input socket. Still, not for me, so between the Sony and the Creative. Both have a 20GB version. But, issues with software (Sonic Stage) in Sony, a shorter battery life, and a less sleek looking unit eventually made me go for the Zen.
And since I got it? Amazing battery life, huge capacity, carries WMA format for sound files, intuitive touch pad control, amazing sound quality, Creative Media Source is a nice program, and all in all a good package.
If you want a colour screen and photo capabilities go for the Zen Photo Sleek, and there is of course a 40GB version for those of you with larger CD collections. Although 350 or so on mine, and not even half full yet.
In conclusion, this bit of kit rocks, for the average joe, or joe-ess on the street this is a nifty bit of sound equipment, works beautifully, no problems yet, and well well recommended.
[Added in response to comments - I have had no problems with the earphones, they are perfectly fine, although I am going to get some wrap around ones as they are a little large and do not sit very comfortably. This was just a problem noted with the earphone jack itself by one or two people. To be honest through the phones with it now, I'm hearing stuff in the music that I've never realised is there before. The manual is short, if you want to do lots of stuff with it, you'll need the help file on the CD. The software is very easy to use, and much more intuitive than iTunes. Hope this helps. Simon]