"Lots of Bang for the Buck"4.5 starson by b_coxus
Pros: Very slim. 2.5" screen. Attractive design. Intuitive menu navigation. Smooth video. Feature packed.
Cons: No external speaker. Occasionally freezes. PC sync software is buggy but usable. Has occasionally lost settings. Very minimal instructions.
Summary: To me, the Creative Zen (2GB) is a feature rich jewel of a device for a small price tag. In my opinion, it blows similarly priced products away with its style, features, and ease of use.
I'll get the negatives out of the way first so I can get on with the good stuff. It has no built-in speaker, which is a bit of a bummer. Since the device has an wake-up alarm, it seems obvious that the makers either originally intended to have a built-in speaker or they intended to sell you connectable external speakers (probably the latter). I have unfortunately had an occasional 'hard' freeze of the device where the only thing that will turn it off and back on again is poking the button in the 'reset' hole. I also had a problem after updating the firmware where the device would not turn on, but a quick punch of the reset button brought it back into working order. Some of the 'sync' software that comes with the device seems buggy to me, but the bugs were more annoying that 'show-stoppers' (e.g., ZenCast for podcasts seems to do strange things with some entries appearing, disappearing, reappearing after being deleted, podcasts no sorting in correct date order no matter how many times you hit the sort button, etc.). This is probably more my fault the the device's, but I have often had the device lose my overall settings and radio presets. I haven't figured out, yet, what I am doing to cause this. While it is likely my fault, the device probably could have been designed a little better in this respect. A better set of instructions would have helped. The device comes with very minimal instructions. Luckily, with a few exceptions, the device is so easy and intuitive, that instructions *are* almost unnecessary.
Now on to the good stuff! The 2GB version is priced between $70 and $90. I tried a few others in this same price range at a local store and was very frustrated with how unintuitive their user interfaces were. The Zen, on the other hand, was very intuitive and I found myself easily and quickly navigating its menus. I love the style, with its rounded corners and very thin profile (I can carry it around in my front pants pocket). Even though it is so thin and small, the Zen has a 2.5" screen (lots more real estate than similarly priced models I perused). The display is crisp, clear, and bright. As long as you download good videos, the picture quality is great. I have had no problems with pixelation or skipping. The video has been smooth and fun to watch. Finally, the device is feature packed. It has a built-in microphone/voice recorder. You can turn your stored images into a slide-show. Any image you upload to the Zen can be turned into a wallpaper for your background (if you want it to be something other than the default...even the default wallpapers are cool though). It can store songs by album, artist, genre, and you can create your own playlists. You can rate each song and there are 'DJ' settings you can choose from that allow you to play highly rated songs, unrated songs, or other options. There are several equalizer settings, including a custom equalizer. It, of course, stores video and comes with PC software to help you download podcasts and digital books. There is a calendar and 'task keeper' that you can sync up with outlook if you like. It has an alarm and a clock that you can choose to display. There is a slot for an SD card so you can copy things straight from them or just look at and use their contents.
Basically, I love the device for the price.