"Hidden problems."1.5 starson by Larry77777
Pros: Small with nice display.
Cons: Interface, buttons, user can't replace battery.
Summary: This was delivered to me on a Friday and the following Friday night my neighbor and professional "geek" got it working. Upon opening it, I connected it to my computer, a laptop with xP and WMP 11, and immediately Windows Explore saw it as one of the drives and I used Windows Explore to drag and drop some music files. I was listening to it and reading the instructions that said to first install their software. I installed the software. That's when everything went south. No longer would it show up as a drive on my computer. I couldn't use Explore anymore and Creative's ZEN Media Explorer did not have the ability to move files or folders around within the player like you would expect with any USB mass storage device like a USB flash drive. I uninstalled their software. I could use WMP 11. It still wouldn't work with Explore. I took it to work and another computer with xP and WMP 11 accepted it, found the drivers, and worked with Explore. Another computer with xP and WMP 10 found the drivers. The ZEN showed up as a drive in Explore but the files could not be manipulated. Another computer did something else. A string of e-mails with Creative did not avail any solution. Customer service at Creative was, howerever, very responsive. If I wrote a help request before bed, an answer was waiting in the morning. The last advice was going to get me to mess with my computer's registry. Enter my neighbor. He goes into the control panel and finds the Zen under Portable Devices. He right clicks and uninstalls it. He unplugs the Zen and replugs it. This time the computer says that it found new hardware and then it went to find and install a driver. Success! It again works with Explore. I reinstalled the Zen software and it the computer said to connect the player to finalize installation. Now I'm back to the last Friday. The software messed it up but it contains the video converter. It seemed necessary. So I went back into the control panel and uninstalled the player and unplugged it and replugged it and Explore worked even with the Zen software. I experimented with the Zen software again and it made the player disappear as a drive in Explore. I repeated the uninstall / install process again and nothing has broken for four days. This sucker could be a lot more flexible. It requires Windows xP or Vista with WMP 10 or 11.
The radio works pretty well. It is sensitive enough to get most stations in stereo. The display is 320 by 240. It's very pretty. The Zen software runs all the time and so if you right click a picture (or other media), you have a choice to send it to the Zen. It automatically reduces the picture to 640 x 480 with some additional compression. Why not 320 x 240? But if i use Canon's Zoom Browser to reduce the photo to 320 x 240 resolution, and then try to send it to the Zen from Zoom Browser, it can't find the Zen as a drive. I need to send the photo to a folder and then send it to the Zen from the folder. It should show up like a USB flash drive. The sound is good, but it could use more drive for less efficient headphones. It is probably typical. You can't browse the music in a "folder mode". That is, you can find music by playlists, artist, album, or genre but not by the way you organized the folders inside the player. The battery is not user replaceable like a Sansa E200 series player. If you are lucky, it will go dead inside the warrantee or last until you break the player anyway. The four way navigation button does not work well on my player. If I press around the center of the > button which should change the track or radio station, it activates the ^ button which changes the volume. I need to press the > button in the lower right corner to keep it from doing this. Don't want to charge it from a computer and think the Creative charger is to many $$ and should have come supplied with the Zen? You can find those 5 volt USB chargers all over the place. If you have a cell phone that charges through the mini USB port then you can use that. If you don't really need the 2.5" display and you don't mind the proprietary connector, the Sansa E200 with user replaceable battery and a metal back is probably a better, more friendly bet. Whatever you buy, even a $25 player, a good set of headphones will improve any player.