matt_flet... 5

matt_fletcher

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Quote-start

I've reached my zen, and it's this.

Quote-end
03.06.2006

Advantages:
Small, light, easy to navigate, lots of features, good software, good sound quality, glows when charging .

Disadvantages:
Could do with a larger capacity, FM - radio doesn't work too well, doesn't seem to be happy with WMAs and doesn't play MP4s .

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Sound Quality

Ease of Use

Look & Design

Range of Features

Value for Money

Video QualityVery Helpful / Very Easy to Understand

DurabilityExcellent

11 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (36%):
  1. freeridemtber
  2. lindsayjayne
  3. L0BSTER_QUADRILLE
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very helpful by (64%):
  1. mightymuffin
  2. anonymili
  3. kappaslappa
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From cassettes to CDs to Minidiscs, portable music players have been continuously advancing: smaller size, larger memory, easier navigation. The newest advance is the MP3 player, which boasts about its ability to store and add thousands of high quality songs with the greatest of ease. The Creative Zen Micro should be seen as the archetype of this.

Upon opening the box, I found the Zen Micro itself, a battery, a USB cable, headphones, some manuals and an installation CD. Putting it all together was pretty self explanatory, although the manual did give a detailed explanation of how to put the headphones into the the headphone socket. I switched it on, and it did its little "hold on, I'm just sorting everything out" thing, and 20 or so seconds later it was raring to go. The first sample songs were some lovely little musac-esque instrumentals; nothing too interesting, but it was quite nice to have something mindless to listen to at first before adding my own "why is he screaming?" music.

Installing the software was very easy. I just plugged it into my computer with the provided USB 2.0 cable, stuck the CD in, followed the on-screen instructions, and I was done. Unlike some software *cough* Sony Sonicstage *cough*, the tracks didn't need to be converted or stuck in some funny playlist; you just select the tracks you want and press add- it's as easy as that. Also, the Zen charges when it's plugged into the computer, which means you can add tracks whilst it gets itself full of electric juice. It doesn't take very long to charge, and can be done on any computer, even without the software installed. At first I was horrified at the idea of a mains-plug not being provided, but I've discovered that it really isn't needed, although you can buy one if you so wish.

The menus are quite easy to navigate. At first, you start with "Music Library", which then goes to a sub-menu of artists, albums, genres etc etc, and then to an artist, then the album, and finally you choose the song. If you press the play button when you have an artist highlighted, it will play all their music in order, likewise if you do so on an artist's album title. It is quite easy to change the menu system, so that everything is in a different order, or things are hidden that would usually be visible and vice versa. For example, the first item on the menu is initially "Music Library", but I changed this to "Artists" as I'm much more likely to use that one then searching by album or genre. The ability to customise things is really great, because I really do just love customising m'gadgets.

The menus are all navigated by brushing your finger up and down the vertical scroll pad in the centre of device, and tapping it quickly to go forwards (eg, select a menu item). There's also a button to go back a step, one to open up a sub-menu of lesser used commands, such as deleting an album or searching for a track, and obviously the rewind, play/pause and fast-forwards buttons. Each button is a touch-pad as opposed to the iPod's hard "clicky" buttons. I guess this could be seen as a disadvantage, and many people who also have the Zen Micro say that "the buttons are too sensitive, and it's harder to tell if you've selected something or not". Since I bought my Zen Micro, i've never had any problems with this, though; I guess it's a personal preference. I do find it a bit annoying how in order to change track you can't just fiddle with it in your pocket or bag, because you'll most likely press the wrong button. On top of the Zen Micro is a little hold button, which stops you from accidentally pressing a button and imploding the world (although it's more likely you'd just unintentionally skip a song).

Aesthetically, it's very nice. My one has a white cover, with a blue screen and backlight on the buttons/outer rim. The Creative Zen is very light (108g, supposedly) and also very small (5.1 cm x 1.9 cm x 8.4 cm, apparently). The headphones, like the body, are bright white. Maybe Creative did this so that people would think you were listening to an iPod, or maybe they did it because it fits in with the colour scheme. I hope they did it for the latter reason, because I'm not the biggest fan of Apple (although that's not really that relevant). The entire unit fits into your palm comfortably, and the corners are all smooth and round (unlike the iPod- yes you heard me, Apple).

The Creative Zen Micro has a wide range of features, including an FM Radio, which is great as it automagically searches for all available stations and sets them to 32 pre-sets. Unfortunately, the reception isn't very good, as it uses the headphone cable as an antannae. This is alright if you're standing on one leg on a chair, dangling the device from the tip of your finger by the cable, but this isn't very practical and runs the risk of a serious spinal injury. I've tried using the FM Radio whilst walking, and the signal is awful, to be honest. Another feature is the calendar, which you can store all your hilarious future activities in, as well as a phonebook and the like, which synchronises with Microsoft Outlook. A pretty cool feature is the "DJ" section, which has a range of different features such as "Most Played Tracks", which tells you which 20 songs you listen to most, and "Rarely Heard", which is, of course, the opposite of this. It's also possible to randomly play all your tracks, or all the tracks by an artist/genre/album, as well as looping a track or album.

This MP3 player can store 6gb of music and data which, depending on your songs' sound quality and length, can hold roughly 1500 songs at 128kbps. At first I thought "how can I fill that much space?", but trust me, you can. The sound quality is generally very good, although many people have complained about the headphones not being very good. I think the headphones are fine, except the little pads on them fell off within a week or so of owning it.

As far as durability goes, well, It's not broken yet, and I've owned it for maybe 9 months. There's a little bit of dust under the screen, but that's going to happen with all electronic objects.

The Creative Zen Micro can apparently play these formats: MP3, WAV, WMA, ADPCM and WMA DRM. However, my Zen Micro seems to be a bit funny with WMA files. I don't know whether it's my one or all of them, or even just the files themselves, but it messes with the player. A song that is 8 minutes long, for example, it wil say is 2 minutes long, and after 2 minutes the progress bar will stop, but the track will keep playing. Or if the track is 3 minutes long, it may say that it's 5 minutes long, and if you fast forwards to the last 3 minutes, the whole unit crashes and the battery has to be removed to reset it. Slighly annoying, but nothing too excrutiating.

I bought my Creative Zen Micro from dabs.com for £140, which is a very good website (although this isn't a review for them!). Other places sell them, such as all major highstreet retailers, although it'll probably be more expensive there. Please bear in mind, however, that I bought this a while ago, and the price has most likely gone down. In fact, amazon.co.uk seem to be selling the same thing for £115 now.

Oh yes, and finally (I nearly forgot to mention), you can put data files on it, too. You can't view them directly on the device itself, of course, but it's a great way to transfer or store data. It doesn't require the Zen Micro to be installed on the computer, either.

So, in general, I'm very happy with this. It's small and it's easy to use, and the battery doesn't die after a year (yes, I am looking at you, Apple). If you are to buy an MP3 player, I'd certainly advise you to get this one. Full marks.

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Comments about this review »

freeridemtber 05.10.2008 21:22

nicely written review mate. An E from me. Kenny

mightymuffin 20.05.2007 22:29

Good review - well written xx

MAFARRIMOND 04.06.2006 04:10

A thorough review. Maureen

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Even in daily use, you need not worry about, since
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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

You will never be without your favorite music with Zen Micro. Squeezed into its micro-sized casing is the capacity ...

General

MPN 70PF108500011, 70PF108500189, 70PF108500184, 70PF108500188, 70PF108500152, 70PF108500017, 70PF108500138, 70PF108500186, 70PF108500166, 70PF108500029, 70PF108500173, 70PF108500071, 70PF108500065, 70PF108500187, 70PF108500159, 70PF108500053, 70PF108500185, 70PF108500047, 70PF108500145, 70PF108500035, 70PF108500122, 70PF108500002, 70PF108500038, 70PF108500103, 70PF108500112, 70PF108500020
Product Type Digital player
Digital Player Type Hard drive based

Audio system

HDD 6 GB
Sound Output Mode Stereo
Equaliser Yes

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This review of Creative ZEN Micro 6 GB has been rated:

"very helpful" by (64%):

  1. mightymuffin
  2. anonymili
  3. kappaslappa

and 6 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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