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Creative Zen X-Fi 16 GB

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    4 Reviews
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      04.03.2010 21:49
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      A thumb war you cannot win

      Storage - 16GB
      RRP - 117.00 GBP - Amazon online retailer
      URL - http://www.creative.com

      The world of apps is undoubtedly the way forward in music media, especially as the BBC have called time on programmes such as the Asian network and Channel Six radio where a lot of the new music genre first start out . The only effective means of getting your presence out there if you are a music guru or producer is to embrace the icon world of apps. Creative are getting more involved with this icon interactive medium even more so, since the launch of Fidelity audio performance software, that is apparent in all 'X-Fi' models. It is a lot of hype, to be honest, but for you savvy portable media public, Creative Zen has improved somewhat since the 'Mozaic' chess days, which did bore me to tears. Creative at least have picked up some good concepts while browsing through the portable media market at their competitors, and boy, did they need to pick their game up. I could see the whole media marketing journals getting on top of the Creative Lab corporation, as practically all media journalists gave a less than average account on what the Lab team had offloaded into the market before the X-Fi series hit the shops. Forget the gimmicks of 'Chess boards' big buttons with no purpose and none slick navigation thwarted all models up until twenty two months ago.

      The X Fidelity models are following suit with the app king the 'Apple iPhone;' though the 'X-Fidelity' branding is nothing to do with apps there is a notable move in that direction by allowing users to purchase apps and content from Creatives' version of the Apple iPhone. Apps are taking over the portable media world as a new marketing genre within the PMP arena. Since the emergence of apps the term MP3 player has become obsolete, as now the portable media player caters for app usage that now envelopes the whole digital media market, so it is good bye to the term 'MP3 player', you've passed on the baton.

      The X-Fi Creative series model has redressed blatant design changes, such as screen size and shape of PMP. This model is too small, just as the 8GB and the 32GB, the 16GB is the same size and its width is just under my right hand width, yes it is portable but these are for little people, obviously aimed at young adults who've stepped out of college and just about to embark on a career with a merchant banking corps. Not price wise but intellectually wise. Creative prides themselves corporately on making their customers explore more, hence why there are small buttons that could easily be avoided, by other navigational methods. Ask Apple. It is as if there is a miss trust in its own touch screen technology, or it is simply that the Creative brand 'loves buttons' the smaller the better, it seems.

      Fidelity's internal wireless local area network (WLAN) allows the user to view server content via Creative's site, directly to the X-Fi portable media player. This is the first series of 'X' to accommodate this facility. The digital data is transmitted by streaming audio and video data from the workstation or from the WLAN line. Creatives 'Fidelity' performance specializes in high quality audio, yet you've got to have ears of a hawk to configure that there is a difference. Downloaded information from 'podcasts' that is in Creative's 'MediaBox' I advise is viewed primarily as 'only for now data' rather than collectively storing and keeping it as downloaded material. Treat it as you would when viewing the BBC iPlayer. Do not digress down the IM usage route; the X-Fi specification is not valid for that type of practice, even though it is available. I recommend that the real-time chat won't necessarily be worthy of trusting until the next series of 'Smart Technology' PMP's are available in the marketplace.

      All that you see isn't necessarily what you want. The '13 buttoned' navigation is as flawed as a Nigerian figure skater. They are too close together it becomes impossible, awkward for the user, if speed was a necessity, or had large thumbs. You'll get more fun and relevance from a music phone with all the added features, except for the 'fidelity' sound if you're a bat.

      Memory storage from the SD Card slot is notably not that interactive with the PMP. The old Win95 springs to mind when trying to access data, no prompt, no automatic messaging, just a poor scrolling navigation process to prolong the agony. The X-Fi itself as a PMP looks the real deal but shows many frailties, like the flimsy silver backing that Creative insists it sits on.

      A X-Fi portable media player that has a storage facility of 16GB is mediocre, it suits its purpose and is at the upper scale of the MP3 player spectrum. 16GB will enable you to flick through up to 4,000 media files; this doesn't include CGI video's as these files do vary in size of content. I like the video interface that the X-Fi employs, probably its best feature, not exactly for the Labs 'fidelity' sound capabilities.

      Creatives FM radio facility is a close second behind the smooth interface and screen facility, it is one of the best out there in MP3 player brands. Though is standard for PMP, but for the price of 117.00 GBP from an Amazon near you, you can't complain at the value. A decent library for JPEG - BMP images; viewing digital photos portably is also a plus, but not ground-breaking.

      Xtreme fidelity series has not made bold innovative steps with this portable media player. It isn't that user friendly in regards to it's navigation facilities and the provided ear-plugs are not exactly comfortable while wearing them for more than 20 minutes or so. The audio quality is slightly better than a MP3 player, yet is comparable to any other portable media player brand. My views have changed somewhat over the past twelve months as has my expectations, so the original 84% that I gave for the X-Fi is rather outdated, considering that I do prefer U3 'finger friendly technology.' The X-Fi 16GB stats will inevitably show where my allegiance lies, that being U3 models.

      ---- ----- ----- ---
      Overall Statistics
      ---- ----- ----- ---
      Sound and Graphics - 15.78 out of 20.00
      Storage - 12.32 out of 20.00
      Features - 14.40 out of 20.00
      Design and Navigation - 13.04 out of 20.00
      Originality - 10.62 out of 20.00
      OVERALL SCORE - 66.16 out of 100
      ---------------------------------------------

      I hope all the information provided has helped.
      ©03-20101st2thebar

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      • More +
        23.11.2009 21:34

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        A great little gadget, I wouldn't be without it.

        I have had my zen x fi for about 15 months and have used it every day. It is my first mp3 player so I can't personally compare it to any other brands. However, I chose the zen because I wanted a mp3 player with a radio and also a large gb memory to store my ever increasing music collection. I really like the compact size, which is easy to carry unobtrusively in a pocket. The sound quality with headphones is excellent and this especially noticable when listening to Pink Floyd. The internal speaker does not produce such a good sound, but what can you expect from something not much bigger than a credit card.
        It also has the capacity to store digital photo images, so I can carry around my whole collection of family photos from the last five years.
        I've not really found much use for the wireless LAN feature, it seems a bit of a gimmick to me. It can also play videos, but again this is a feature I haven't managed to use, probably due to copyright protection features on my DVDs.

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        14.06.2009 23:37
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        Good player, worth it for the sound but be prepared for some inconvenience!

        I got this player at Christmas, so around 6 months ago.

        Firstly the size and weight of the player is good, not creating any unsightly bulges or weighing you down.

        The sound quality is very good, and the built in speaker is loud enough to hear over a shower, and goes quiet enough to fall to sleep to.

        The Wi-fi works well but is quite a drain on the battery.

        When playing through the supplied headphones the sound quality is excellent. Although I did find that the 'buds' came off too easily and consequently I lost the ones that fit my ears eventually and ended up using the other sizes supplied. Also within 5 months the right earphone stopped working and a week later the left one went, I had used it everyday but nevertheless I didnt expect them to break that quickly.

        The worst thing about the player is the functionality, the menu screens, whilst not complicated, are not user friendly, there are too many to choose from and you cant just go to an artist, press play and let it cycle through other artists when done with the original choice.

        Another grip is the 9 button array at the right side of the player, most of the buttons are not used and their absence would prove to make operating the player without looking (e.g. at the gym) much easier.

        The software that you use to add music etc is quite good, it uploads music fairly quickly and it is easy to drag and drop to create playlists, the very quick search function aiding this. However you can only create and properly manage the playlists using this software and the video upload and conversion is horribly slow. Having said that, once the videos are on the player the quality is excellent (so far as the originals are) and the drain on the battery is not as much as I expected.

        The other semi-useful thing about this player is the SDHC slot that can be used, however the files are played seperatly and are not added to your library of music, making it better for use as a large playlist.

        All in all this is a good player and I would recommend it, there are some bad points but the sound quality (especially with the X-Fi) is worth the inconveniences.

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        17.10.2008 12:31
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        Good sound and features, let down by poor controls

        This little MP3 player was a brave move for me. Solely an iPod user before spending £122 for this alternative from Lambda. I wanted to try something different. I felt trapped by the ease of the iPod. New ones came out and I could've bought one without even thinking (well I did), but curiosity made me try this.

        It is quite small and feels very well made. The actual dimensions are 55 x 83 x 12.5mm and it weighs 70g. The nice things about it are that the screen is 2.5-inches and very bright. It has a nice crispness to it and the colours pop out at you. It has a built in speaker, so nice for listening to at bed time without having to wear earphones and get all tangled up. The sound when using the supplied headphones is nice too, I would say a little more detailed than an iPod touch. The last of the nice things is to mention the wi-fi. It can connect wirelessly to the Creative server or your own network. You can then stream MP3 music or podcasts to the unit. Oh, and one more thing... you get 16GB of storage, but you can ad an SD or SDHC memory card to expand on this.

        The bad things are many. The user interface is nice to the eye, but awful to use. Back and forth through so many menus is horrible. The buttons are not nice to press, very hard. The middle section of the control panel has a further nine buttons arranged in a square and you can never remember what each one does, so guesswork ends in tears.

        In summary, this is a reasonable device. Good sound and features, let down by poor controls.

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