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Creative ZEN X-Fi MP3 player review | Wi-Fi & X-Fi

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

Creative Zen X-Fi MP3 player

Creative Zen X-Fi MP3 player

Wi-Fi function on the Creative Zen

The WiFi function of the Creative Zen X-Fi is the second star. Wi-Fi enables streaming music on this media player, from your computer to the Zen. If there is a wireless network around, the Zen X-Fi will find it and, if necessary, ask for the WEP encryption code if it is an encrypted network. On every network, access to the Creative Mediabox is enabled. In fact, the Mediabox is a large amount of podcasts you can listen to. If you install the included Creative Central software, you are allowed to create your own 'media server'. This is very easy, you actually only have to drag the music you want to stream to the Creative Central and from this Central, you can listen to the files everywhere in your home, on the home network, in fact. Also videos can be watched on the network; it works the same as music streaming (drag the video to the Creative Central). The Wi-Fi function of the Zen X-Fi also enables chatting. It makes it possible to create your own avatar with which you can log in to the chat box created by Creative. However, other chat servers such as AIM, MSN or Yahoo!, are not supported, unfortunately. In order to use the chat function, you have to register at Creative and log in through the media player. I know from my own experience that there's hardly a soul online, and the reason for this is the difficulties one encounters when trying to insert text messages. There is no T9 support, which means you have to navigate to the correct key and select the letter with the center button. To type the letter 'E' for example, you have to navigate to the top right and then press the center button five times. This way of text input is very inconvenient and the chat function could have been thought-out a lot better.

Creative Zen X-Fi media player

Creative Zen X-Fi media player

Creative X-Fi audio technique

The Zen X-Fi is the only media player with integrated Xtreme Fidelity or in other words; the Creative X-Fi technique. The X-Fi Crystallizer has been developed in the Advanced Technology Center of Creative and restores the high and low tones that are lost when music is converted to MP3 format. You do hear a difference when the X-Fi Crystallizer is activated. The only downside is the vocals being suppressed in songs, and the music will stand out too much, such as the bass and highs. This may be an advantage when you listen to dance / trance / techno genre, since it is all about the bass in this genre. During testing, I found that the quality of the sound really improved with the X-Fi Crystallizer, enhancing the joy of listening to music. I never used the X-Fi on the maximum setting (there are 3 available: off, on and max) because in my opinion, the sound goes a little over the top. Until I downloaded a song from YouTube to my Zen sample. YouTube videos aren't the best of quality when it comes to sound, however, setting the X-Fi to the max; the sound became almost equal to an average MP3. The media player also has the X-Fi Expand option; simulating a 3D sound. This worked fine, the sound then resembles loudspeakers in a 3D setting, however, it's not for me. It diminishes the full and deep sound.


Extra MP3 player functions

T here's no end to the list of what the Zen X-Fi is able to do. The media player offers an abundance of additional features: calendar function, notes, microphone, radio, tasks and contacts. The calendar does what the name already tells you; it offers a calendar. Notes, tasks and contacts can be synchronized through the Creative Central on the Zen, making them available for you at all times. However, you can't adjust them on the Zen itself. The radio has 32 preset stations, and during testing it turned out it offers great reception almost everywhere you go. It's a pity the Zen does not offer information about the station you're listening to, and you will have to wait for a jingle to find out. The recording function works like all the others on many other media players and of course, the same as the previous Zen models. You can record a sound fragment, name it and store it, to listen to it afterwards. You can also upload the sound fragment to your computer and listen to it from there.

Creative ZEN X-Fi MP3 player review

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