"Creative Zen Micro: An mp3 player to rule them all."4.5 starson by PhillAC87
Pros: Excellent Sound quality, great functionality, styling, FM Radio, 5gb, voice recorder
Cons: None, except for slightly overstated battery life
Micro Hard drive mp3s players are booming more than ever before. The small size, generous song capacity and modern styling appeal to many many people. After finally purchasing my own, I can really understand why they are so popular. I don't know how I made it without my Zen before. I've owned a few other flash mp3 players, but they don't even begin to compare to the Zen Micros ease of use, styling, superb sound quality, and excellent user usability that set it much higher than the rest, not only over the few I've had, but over other micro hard-drive based models on the market.
Ease of use/features
I find the creative Zen Micro very user-friendly and easy to use. Even those new to mp3 players will find it pleasant and convenient to use. The included software is easy to use and install. I had the application up and running after about 7 minutes or so. The included accessories work really well with the unit and add to the appeal of the entire package. I especially like the belt clip and desk stand. The limited edition I bought had the extra battery, which added even more to the value of the Zen. I found the menus easy to get through and easily configurable to what the user likes. Regarding the screen, I find the cool blue, back lit screen to be easy to see, regardless of the lighting conditions. One negative is that the screen does pick up fingerprints very easily, so be careful when handling it. A great feature on this unit is that it has a voice/radio recorder. I haven't used the voice recorder very much to date, but the times I have used it have shown me that its a worthwhile feature that works well. Users will have no problem utilizing that function. Another great feature is the ability to set aside some of the storage space aside for removable space. Adjustable from 128 mb, to 2 gb, users will find that transferring and backing up files with it is a snap.
Transferring music to the Zen micro is extremely easy. Using Windows media player, I was able to upload about 150 songs effortlessly in about 6-7 minutes, which is much better than the previous mp3 players I've owned could handle and at least comparable to other units on the market such as the Ipod Mini or Rio Carbon. It's worth pointing out that music transferring is not limited to just Windows Media Player; any other application that plays and transfers music(Real Player or Music Match for example) will work just fine. For quick uploads, users can easily sync their Zen Micros with the music on their computers, so that every time the Zen is connected, the music that they love can easily be added.
The sound quality of the Zen Micro surpasses that of any music device I've heard. The sound is always crisp and clear, easily adjustable with the sound equalizer settings provided. The stated 98 db sound rating is right on the mark. Even the most critical music fan with a sharp ear for sound quality will be pleased with the sound the Zen Micro produces.
The radio is easy to use and works as well as can be expected for a device of this magnitude. It picks up stations pretty well, with great reception. You can easily have the Zen find and preset stations for you, or you can easily do it yourself, which works for me really well. A feature I like about the radio function is that the user is able to easily name their favorite stations. It's comforting to flip through the stations and have them so nicely labeled.
I'm sure many of you looking at this review are wondering what my thoughts are on the touch pad navigation on the Zen. Contrary to what some reviewers have said, I find the Zen Micros touch pad easy to use and get the handle of. From the moment I opened the package containing my Zen and powered it up, I've been flying through the menus with no problem at all. It's simple to scroll through and select whatever the user wants. I found no need to download the firmware download in order to get the touch pad working best for me. In terms of comparisons to the Ipods Click wheel, having used a few friends Ipods before, I find the touch pad much more intuitive and easy to use. One thing worth nothing is that it's important to make sure to use the hold function, because since the touch pad is touch sensitive, it's easy to select a function you didn't intend on hitting. Not a flaw, just something I've picked up.
The battery setup works really well with the Zen Micro. The unit can be charged via the power adapter or the usb connection, whatever is most convenient for the user. The units blue outer rim will keep pulsating until the charge is complete, so its easy to tell when the charging process is finished. One thing I do agree with other reviewers on is that the battery life doesn't quite live up to its declared 12 hours. A catch some people forget is that the manufacturers always get these exaggerated battery specs because they have the mp3 player configured in ways most users aren't likely to use their players(ie. Low sound volume, back light turned off, equalizer and bass turned off, etc). That may be the case with this unit. I've found that I get approx 7-8 hours of batter life with moderate volume, the back light on with a 10 second delay, and my equalizer settings on. That puts it at around where the Ipod Mini currently is. I'm fine with that, and I'm sure most of you will be fine with it as well. A huge positive that gives it the edge over other models is the removable battery. The battery design is similar to a cell phones design. The battery easily comes out for those that want to put a charged battery in to keep their music coming, or when in case the battery dies, they want to simply swap out the battery. The batteries are approximatively $40 from Creative and I'm sure after market batteries will be even cheaper. Thats a great price when you consider that the Ipod will cost a good $100 for the replacement, plus it must be sent to Apple to be repaired. To put things plainly, the whole battery design works well for the Creative Zen Micro. I really can't think of a way to improve upon it.
I couldn't be happier with my decision to go with the Zen Micro. It has the features, the quality, and ease of use that make it a serious contender in the micro hard drive player market. For those debating whether or not they want the Ipod Mini or Zen Micro, I'd say it comes down to personal preference. Some prefer itunes over other music applications. Some may like the more simple appearance of the Ipod over the more futuristic, different look of the Creative Zen Micro. In my opinion, the benefits of the Zen Micro greatly outweigh those of the Ipod. The Zen has an extra gb of storage, radio, voice record, and organizing features that the Ipod simply doesn't provide. One thing I can say is before going with the Ipod or even another micro drive unit, be sure to consider the Zen Micro. Its a more than worthy contender at an even better price. My recommendation: Get it! You won't be disappointed