"Returned two units with corrupted media filename problems"1.5 starson by atenza
Pros: Lots of disk space (20GB), intuitive UI, voice recording capability, nice sturdy design
Cons: Proprietary USB/DC two-cable system really bites, sensitive slide button, backlit screen a bit dim, non-removable battery, sync problems
Summary: Had nothing but bad luck with media filenames getting corrupted on two (2) separate units that I ended up returning (more on that following). Absolutley could not stand the proprietary USB/DC combined two-cable system. Why didn't they just use the same standard USB cable interface found on the Zen Micro? It was a drag always having to lug the USB cable with me on-the-go (whereas I have the standard USB interface cables available everywhere). DC adapter only plugs into the USB connector (should have had a dedicated DC adapter input). The sensi-touch slider was extremely difficult to use for scrolling one-up/one-down, even at the lowest sensitivity setting (try that while driving in the car). Not sure about the audio quality since I mainly played it through the car aux input, which sounded great amplified and EQ'd. Although the voice recorder was a great feature to have, the recordings from the built-in mic would often pick up the motor-whining sound from the hard drive motor.
Not sure why, but the unit totally screwed up my main computer's USB interface ports. Within my first hour trying to sync MP3s using Windows Media Player the unit locked up after just completing a sync, and had hit the hard reset pin button to reboot it. Ever since that time, when connecting the USB cable the unit always locked up and gave an error "USB Device not Recognized. One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognize it." This appears permanently screwed for other Zen products too. When separately testing out a friend's new Zen Microphoto 8GB it gives the same USB error, and locks up the unit the same way. It also wiped out a fully working 10-in-1 USB card reader from being recognized. All these USB devices of course worked just fine when plugged in to other PC units in the house. Who knows.... this may have just been a fluke with my Sony VAIO desktop. Anyway, I ended up having to resort to my laptop as the main media sync unit.
Now for the media filename corruption issue.... This same problem happened on two separate units. Occasionally I prefer to copy miscellaneous media files using file drag & drop which preserves the folder structure in which I store my files, as opposed to always syncing with WMP which re-arranges files (e.g. \artist\album-name). At first when I do this everything appears to work fine. At the time I unplug the USB the unit takes a short moment to re-build the music library. But afterwards when I explore the unit's file system I noticed that many of the filenames got totally corrupted. There would be some files with no name at all (looks like a blank file name). Some would have their main file name, but with their .mp3 file extensions removed. Then there would be some files that got completely renamed to files belonging in totally different folders! (imagine seeing AC/DC songs within a Fleetwood Mac folder, or KISS songs within a Neil Diamond folder, etc.). But interestingly, because the original MP3 ID tags were still preserved in each file everything showed up correctly from the unit's main interface, and all the music files still played fine on the unit. However, the bottom line was that this was going to present a major file management nightmare for me.
So in the end both units were returned. The first returned unit was further complicated by not being able to add/delete files to the unit anymore once the file system corruption occured (couldn't even manually delete them from unit directly). The second returned unit didn't have that problem, but was so already screwed I couldn't risk keeping it, especially without buying any extended performance warranty. So Best Buy graciously accepted the returns... twice.... after showing them the problem each time.
So that was enough of an experience with the Zen Sleek that I'm still a little reluctant to buy another Creative Zen based product for the time being.