As sleek and small as the original, bare-bones MuVo flash-based player, the MuVo NX adds a much-needed LCD and a solid list of features, including voice recording and an equalizer. We love its sturdy, direct plug-in design, but the player has a volume issue and lacks the FM tuner found in some other ultracompact models.
Measuring just 1.5 by 2.9 by 0.6 inches and weighing 1.5 ounces, the sleek MuVo NX is one of the smallest MP3 players we've seen to date. The unit comes with two backpacks (silver and red--use whichever you prefer) that store the player's AAA battery. When you're ready to transfer music and files to the player, simply detach the backpack and plug the module directly into your system's USB port; your PC or Mac should recognize the player as a removable drive.
A 96x32-pixel LCD shows song/album/artist info, time elapsed, and battery strength. If you're hankering to use the player upside down, a nifty setting lets you rotate the display 180 degrees (this could help lefties operate the player more easily).
Creative wisely took the less-is-more approach when it comes to controls. The power/play/pause button sits next to the LCD, while the volume-up/down buttons and a track-skip/scan toggle are on the side of the player. Within a few minutes, we were playing music and navigating menus with ease.
An included Velcro armband makes this player perfect for jogging or using at the gym, especially because the clear rubberized case that attaches to the player leaves the display and controls exposed, unlike the cases that ship with many other players.
The bundled Creative MediaSource organizer transfers tunes to the player, or you can just drag and drop MP3s, WMAs, and music files onto the MuVo using Windows Explorer or the Mac OS Finder. The first approach, while more time-consuming, allows you to create playlists. If you use the second approach, songs will play in alphabetical order (unless you're in Shuffle mode).
Unlike the original stripped-down MuVo, the NX version lets you record about 8 hours of memos in relatively low-quality mono, which is reasonable for voice but nowhere near good enough for music. Another welcome addition is a five-band equalizer, which comes with Rock, Pop, Jazz, and Classical presets, as well as a user-defined mode. You also get a selection of repeat and shuffle settings. Conspicuously absent, however, is an FM tuner.
Sound quality on the MuVo is sharp and clear, with a clean signal-to-noise ratio of 90dB. We found the signal lacking in bass, but luckily, tweaking the equalizer remedied that problem. The included earbuds are flat and tinny; most users will want to spring for a better set. Another problem lies with the volume level, which isn't that loud at the highest setting (only 5mW per channel at 16 ohms). If you're listening to your MuVo on a busy city street or an airplane, you'll probably have trouble hearing your tunes.
Creative promises about 11 hours of MP3 music, which we managed to surpass by an hour. If you're listening to WMAs, expect about 9 hours of playback from a single AAA battery.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.