Although not as bulky as other models in the Nomad range, the Zen’s size is approximately equivalent to a cassette-based Walkman. Its outer shell is metal, making the unit very sturdy, while all buttons and ports reside on the sides of the player.
Funnily enough, a stop button is not present, which makes stopping the music quite a perplexing issue. But the point of the jukebox is to keep the music flowing, and with its large capacity and longlife built-in battery (it provided over 12 hours of continuous play in my longevity test), the jukebox is perfect for the car, the home and public transport. Its 10GB capacity means you will have a hard time finding desired tracks unless you organise the music into playlists or albums beforehand. This can be done through the Creative PlayCentre software, and ID3 tags are supported.
The software interface of the Zen is menu driven via a jog dial and you can change such settings as playing mode, power conservation and EAX (equaliser) settings.
Perhaps one of the neatest features of the Zen is its PlayCentre software, which allows the synchronisation of files between the player and the PC (yes, it works on any PC). A ripper is also featured, so you can create MP3s up to 320Kbps. In addition, the Zen can be used to transfer data, such as PowerPoint presentations, via the Creative File Manager.
To get tracks onto the player, USB 1.1 and FireWire ports are present, and both types of cables are provided in the package. Using 1GB of music in my test, it took 22 minutes to transfer the files through USB 1.1, but only 5.5 minutes through FireWire.
Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen
The Zen is a great, large-capacity mobile player. However, its menu system can get a little tedious and the headphones it ships with produce a very ‘mid-rangey’ frequency.
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