"Near perfect multi-media to go player."4.5 starson by mjrei1
Pros: Excellent sound quality, clear and bright screen, great ergonomics and features.
Cons: Don't believe the 25-30 hr battery rating.
Summary: Creative is hitting on all cylinders with the latest version of Zen players! I have owned the Zen Vision m as well as countless other multi-media players in the past (I can count at least 10 others). None stack up to all the pros of this newest Zen player.
For the record, this review is going to be all over the map, as there are so many things I like about this player. Beware; gushing ahead.
There's so much to love for a power user that it's hard to know where to begin. First of all I hate proprietary anything. The Zen is anything but proprietary. It plays subscription music by just dragging and dropping. Without installing the included software the Zen shows up as another storage/drive device. Some players require you to use their included "clunky" software to load copy protected songs from subscription services, but not this Zen. Again, just drag and drop.
Even the connectors are not proprietary. My phone charger also charges my Zen. It uses a standard usb to mini usb cable. The mini cable that it comes with is so short its actually funny but usb cables are so common and inexpensive that this is not a negative to me.
The sound and image quality are superb! There are also other nice features like a sleep timer, equalizer, bass enhancement, and "smart volume" which plays all songs old and new at the same volume levels! This is the first player I've owned that did all of this. Go to sleep with music playing in your ears... wake up the next morning without a drained battery and without blood pouring from your ears! Again, great features!
The layout of the buttons and the layout within the user interface are also great. The buttons are all logically placed and the connections (usb, headphone jack, sd expansion slot) feel like they are located where they should be. The interface is relatively fast and always beautiful as well as logical. It isn't ipod fast when accessing music but its close. In every other way its ipod-superior in my book.
The video playback for a 2 inch screen is actually awesome. Yes it is small but nearly the entire face is used by the screen and my movie files look and sound fantastic. The only player I've even thought came close was the Archos 404 which had a larger screen but the battery life was atrocious and the player was considerably heavier.
The only cons to this unit are minimal. The screen does smudge easily and unfortunately, it also scratches easily. So a pda-type screen protector is a necessity. Also, the battery life doesn't appear to be up to the 25-30 hrs claimed in the specs. While I haven't really tested this it appears it will be more like 12-15 hrs. Still very respectable. A carrying case in a $100 plus player would also be nice. These are why this weighs in for me as a 9 out of 10. Small and insignificant things I'd like but ultimately not that important.
Considering the credit card size of this player and its very worthy multi-media player billing, I have yet to use a player that I like so much. My only regret was not going for the 8gb unit. I'm going to fork out the money and get the larger unit even though the memory on this 4gb Zen is expandable. I like having my music and books files on the flash drive to be handled by the players very powerful interface. The expansion slot is for movie files where a 4gb card can handle about 20-30 movies files.
Thanks Creative for a very thoughtful design and feature-rich small player!