Feeds
75%

Creative Zen media player

Spiritual enlightenment by way of sound

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Not too different from other interfaces out there, you might think, but the way the buttons are laid out with those pesky Back and Forward options placed high and low on the player, it's actually quite annoying to use.

Creative ZEN MP3 player
Gorgeous screen, irritating user interface

Unless you opt to purchase the extra AC adaptor, you charge the Zen by connecting it to your computer. Creative claims a single charge gives five hours' video playback and 25 hours' audio, which matches the Nano. This obviously depends on usage, how you have the backlight set up and what files you're playing, with sound-enhancement options sucking power, and AAC and WMA files shortening the time too. We got 17 hours out of the Zen on a full charge, which included lots of fiddling around with the menus, some video and the rest purely music, which we felt was respectable.

File support is another area the Zen shines in. JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG pics can be viewed directly, with TIFFs being converted by Creative's software. As well as your MP3, WAV and WMA files you can also use the player for non-protected AAC files, which will appeal to anyone using iTunes Plus. Video support is also generous with WMV9, MPEG 4 SP, Motion JPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and XviD playable as long as they are resized to 320 x 240 resolution - again Creative software comes to your aid here.

The Zen is available in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB options. With each model you get Creative's earphones, which are rubbish. So you might want to invest in something half decent. You also get a short USB-to-mini-USB cable, a Quick Start guide and the installation CD that includes the Creative Media Explorer software.

Verdict

Comparisons with Apple's iPod Nano are inevitable - the Zen is a direct rival to the lesser 'pod. The Creative player has a larger screen - by half an inch - comes in a larger capacity and then there's that SD card slot. It has more features too.

So, what should you opt for? It's a tough call. We really liked the Zen. If you're determined not to go down the Apple route, you'll find the Zen a worthy rather than wannabe competitor. But, we still feel that Creative isn't quite there with this undeniably capable option. It's close, but it's no iPod killer.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

75%

Creative Zen media player

Creative's media-playing Zen is a worthy iPod Nano alternative, but it's not without its faults...
Price: £100 / €160 (4GB), £130 / €210 (8GB), £200 / €300 (16GB) RRP

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.