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Creative unveils 5GB Zen Micro

Feature-packed 'iPod Mini challenger'

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Creative launched its Zen Micro "iPod Mini challenger" last night, as anticipated.

The compact, 5GB unit will "outshine all the others", the company said, with it 12 hour battery life, FM radio with 32 station pre-sets, voice recorder and PDA-style personal information management functionality.

Creative Zen Micro

Not to mention a wide range of casing colours. Like the razor market's obsession with the number of blades on offer - 'Four blades? F**k 'em, we're going to five' - digital music player vendors are increasingly viewing colour choice as the key distinguishing feature between their products.

The Zen Micro comes in a choice of ten colours, double the "previous generation" - as Creative calls it - iPod Mini's five: silver, black, red, orange, green, pink, purple, white, light blue and dark blue.

As we reported on Monday, the Micro provides a touchpad controller for one-handed usage. It supports WM 10 DRM files, along with the usual MP3 playback. Creative bundles software which synchronises Microsoft Outlook contacts, calendars and to-do lists with the player, which - as the iPod has done for some time - presents them on its 2in display.

What we didn't know then is that the battery is removable, allowing users to quickly slot in a fresh one when the main unit has lost its charge. The Micro will also operate as a USB Mass Storage device, allowing users to store other files on its hard drive.

The Micro is $250 in the US, a dollar more than the iPod Mini. The pricing in the UK: £180 (Micro) to £179 (iPod Mini). The Zen Micro goes on sale in November. ®

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