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Creative ZEN X-Fi MP3 player review | Music & Video

Published on: Thursday, January 1st 2009                   Written by: Martijn Kooijman - Photography by: Mark Peters

Creative Zen MP3 player

Creative Zen MP3 player

Music quality of the Creative MP3 player

The name already gives it away: it is a Creative Zen with integrated X-Fi technology. Already an achievement in itself; as even without X-Fi activated the sound is clear and round in combination with the included in-ear earphones that fit perfectly in your ear and block out surrounding noise. On one hand, this is pleasant whilst the music shows to full advantage, yet on the other hand it is somewhat annoying; as whilst riding a bike, for example, the traffic sounds around you are completely faded out. One thing that stands out is the fact that the volume of the Creative Zen X-Fi can be turned up extremely high. In a quiet environment, volume 1 to 3 suffices perfectly. In a noisy environment, like when riding your scooter, the volume set to 6 to 8 is more than enough. And the volume can even reach up to 25! The sound quality is exactly what we may expect from Creative; high quality and offering a nice addition; the X-Fi technology. Supported audio formats are: MP3, WMA (DRM 10), AAC (M4A), WAVE and Audible.

Creative Zen X-Fi MP3 player

Creative Zen X-Fi MP3 player

External speaker of the MP3 player

The Creative Zen X-Fi features an external speaker that looks like the speaker of an Apple iPhone when it comes to appearance and size; the difference of the iPhone being the fact that it features two, whilst the Creative X-Fi comes with only one. Second difference is the quality. The speaker on the Zen performs poorly. I did not manage to get a decent sound, in fact; not from any song of any genre. In an almost silent environment, with the volume button low, the external speaker seems to have some potential, however, with a bit of surrounding noise, and if the volume is turned up slightly, there's no comparing the speaker to those of its rivals. Many details just disappear, such as tones and bass and on top of that, the sound is shrill. I could not get any pleasure out of listening to it. Question is whether it's my sample, the music choice or the firmware. The external speaker may look like the iPhone speaker, as for music quality, it doesn't even come close.

 

Silicon case for the MP3 player

Silicon case for the MP3 player

Playing videos on the Creative Zen X-Fi

The Zen is also able to play videos. Transferring and converting is carried out through Creative Central software (Creative's own media player) and if a video format is not supported by the media player, it will be automatically converted whilst transferring to a format that is supported. The monitor is extremely clear and sharp, and it is surprisingly pleasant to watch a video on it. The battery life will of course drop drastically in that case. After watching about 3 hours of video, the Zen needs to be recharged (according to the specifications, after 5 hours.) Naturally, the standard possibilities of play/pause, wind back or forward are available as well as an option to spread the image over the entire monitor screen. Supported video formats are: WMV9, MPEG4, DivX, and XviD (320 x 240 pixels).

Creative Zen X-Fi in a silicon case

Creative Zen X-Fi in a silicon case

Viewing photos on the Creative Zen X-Fi

The photo viewer works the same as the video mode. Transferring and converting happens through the Creative Central software. If a picture format is not supported, the software will take care of it and convert it to the right format. You can opt for reproduction of the pictures as thumbnails or in a list. Pictures are rendered clearly and naturally on the media player. At any moment whilst viewing a picture, you can start a slideshow, even with background music. Just like the video mode, a few options are at your disposal, such as brightness etcetera. Every picture can be used as background, and if you like, you can also choose to select a preset option such as warmth filter or cooling filter. The supported photo format is JPEG (up to 16.6 Megapixels).

 
 
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