Product Type: Creative MP3 players
Newest Review: ... be the most heavily used feature for many. You can sync this up to your PC either through Creative Zen's own provided software or I'd reco... more
With Creative's little Zen player, can you achieve full enlightenment?
Creative Zen V 1 GB
Member Name: KennyG5000
Creative Zen V 1 GB
Advantages: A very stylish looking player, the screen is good and the menus easy to navigate
Disadvantages: Storage was the big killer for me, though later models do address this
So this was my first MP3 player (we're going back around seven years here) and at the time these Creative Zen V's were very much considered a quality solution to all your mobile music needs. They came in a variety of stylish colours, with the lighting always tastefully matched to the colour of the player. The one I had (and still have, although it has now been superseded by my Sansa Clip) was all white with a funky orange glow and theme on screen, which still looks pretty cool by today's standards. I also felt (perhaps optimistically!) that the all white finish would give it the air of the much more expensive Apple Ipods that were just out of my price range! I was familiar with Creative labs from their earlier days making the very good (for its time) 'Soundblaster' range of PC audio cards. So from the get-go I figured that a Creative product would carry a certain level of quality, and the Creative Zen V doesn't disappoint.
This version of the Zen V was the first, and smallest in capacity, in a long and successful range that ran up to the more than respectable 8 Gb range (but obviously not anywhere near competing with the Ipods in terms of raw storage). I think with the Zen, Creative were trying to create a cool and funky image; certainly it appears they were onto something with the bright contrasting colours (think Black meets Green) and the design of this player is certainly more memorable than many of its dreary successors. There is also something ergonomically satisfying about the shape of the Zen; it's not too slight to be easily lost in your pocket, and the smooth edges make it sort of like holding a funky small bar of soap (that could just be me mind!). The screen on the Zen V is more than generous and the menus are clearly laid out, which you incidentally navigate by means of a tiny little orange joystick in the middle of the player. This joystick, whilst not too difficult to navigate with, is a little fiddly as it's so small; you can't help but think this was added just to be different from the other players on the market rather than for genuine ease of use. You get with the player the obligatory cheap and not so cheerful earbud headphones (some factory must be churning these out as they come with everything!); your best bet is to ditch these and treat yourself to something better. You also get the usual USB cable for connection to your PC, a neck strap (which seems a bit redundant), a pouch for the player (if you are worried about the player there are a number of rubber cases available) and an audio cable to hook it to a stereo if you desire. Incidentally, at the time I used my Zen V we were still in a car that only had a tape player and you could buy an ingenious audio cassette tape adapter that would plug in to the Zen and play your songs through your car speakers, very cutting edge!
As far as functionality is concerned, the Zen V has all the usual suspects you'd expect for a player of this age. It can handle MP3, WMA and Audible Audio, you can use it as a Dictaphone and also store video and photos on it (although these last two are more of a novelty than any real practical use). None the less it is a capable MP3 player, and the approximately 500 song capacity will suit most casual users of it. The menus are clearly laid out and a breeze to navigate through, although I'd imagine the shuffle feature will be the most heavily used feature for many. You can sync this up to your PC either through Creative Zen's own provided software or I'd recommend just using the 'sync' option within Windows Media Player if you are on a Windows platform (as this software is installed as a default setting anyway). I can say at least when using Windows Media Player sync is a doddle, and it only takes a minute or so to add an entire album to your player. The other thing to mention is that on full battery this player seems to last an age, you can easily go days without having it anywhere near a computer (and that's with a lot of use too!).
Overall, I still have fond memories of using this as my main MP3 player. Perhaps this is simply because it was the first one I'd owned, but I just think style wise, Creative nailed it with this one. They still hold up as a funky looking player even in 2012, and although the spec (at least of the 1 Gb version) is now looking a little dated compared to current players, they are still fun and cool to use, and are just the right density to feel satisfying when using. Although I've since strayed away from the Creative brand of players, I would not rule out picking up one of the larger capacity models of a Zen V in the future for the right price as, put simply, I enjoyed using this player a lot more than some of the other brands I've come across. I definitely found my Zen when using this handy little player, only the lack of song storage in the end forced me to reluctantly upgrade.
Summary: Creative? Definitely, the Zen was and is a winner when it comes to style, a classy product overall
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