Creative Labs Zen
- FM radio tuner, calendar and contact manager, excellent audio quality, long battery life, voice recorder
- Monochrome blue-on-blue screen
An elegant solution with excellent audio quality and a few unique but unobtrusive features.
Price$ 399.95 (AUD)
Ever since it introduced its first portable MP3 player, Creative has struggled to get the aesthetics right. It's still struggling. New Creative Zen 20G looks more like a voltage meter than the last word in high-fashion e-wear, although it's otherwise a very fine product.
Creative claims Zen can deliver 11 hours of MP3 music between recharges. It takes about four hours to recharge Zen using USB 2.0 power.
Much like Sony with its Walkman products, Creative has kept Zen simple, focusing on delivering quality audio and long battery life instead of weighing it down with an array of additional features. The extra features it does have are quite logical and unobtrusive, such as an in-built calendar, FM tuner, voice recorder and a mode called removable disk mode, which allows Zen to act as a high-capacity transport for files of any type. It weighs just 140.5g.
Controlling Zen is managed through five face buttons and a glide-pad-like scroller (which even makes a clicking noise when used to indicate that it is, indeed, scrolling). The scroller and the play controls work very well--it takes little time to adjust to them, and once you have, navigating through your songs is a breeze. It could have used a button for quick access to voice recording, but navigating through the menu to get to the voice recorder is relatively painless. Its audio output during our tests was very good, delivering excellent MP3 playback even at low bit-rates, although the audio could be a bit flat at times. It has an internal EQ with presets. It also tuned and played back FM radio well, and even had an auto-scanner for presets.
Zen has is an internal calendar and contacts manager that you can sync with Microsoft Outlook. It's quite a neat little personal information manager, not overly complicated or detailed, but enough to keep things running. Zen comes with some very slick software called Creative MediaSource, which takes an age to install but is well worth the wait. It's a media player, converter, playlist manager and transfer tool. It's well-designed and powerful. Also included is a much simpler tool, called the Zen Media Explorer, which is designed for one-button synching between your PC music library or data files, ripping CDs directly to Zen and downloading your Outlook schedule and contacts to Zen.
Zen does not present itself to the operating system as a removable hard disk, but goes one better. It has excellent Windows Explorer integration, appearing in the device list on the left hand side, with a logical (not actual) file system that allows you to drag and drop files into the Music or Data folders.
It's hard not to like Zen. It plays music well, has some excellent PC software, and FM radio tuner and even has a small PIM application built into the player.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Surface Pro 4
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Apple's Q1: Record $US18.4 billion profit, but iPhone sales are slowing
- Sony shows latest high-end Walkman
- Sydney Airport lost property auction: you'll be amazed at what some people left behind
- The iPod classic plays its last
- Apple iPod Touch pricing slashed by up to 25 per cent in Australia
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- CCSQL Database AdministratorQLD
- CCSenior Networks Specialist - DNS PlatformVIC
- TPSOE AdministratorQLD
- CCJava DeveloperVIC
- CCSenior Project Manager - Regulatory/Compliance - BankingNSW
- FTSenior Security Sales SpecialistVIC
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)NSW
- CCCyber Security Strategy AnalystVIC
- FTFull stack Developer - Senior (Java or C# and AngularJS) x 3QLD
- FTHead of ApplicationsVIC
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - SQLACT
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW
- CCSenior Business AnalystACT
- CCStore Project Coordinator - Large Retail ProjectNSW
- CCCyber Security Strategy AnalystACT
- TPSolution Architect - Real-Time Tracking SystemVIC
- CCIT Solutions ArchitectQLD
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- FTMid-Level Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- FTSalesforce Technical Consultant/Architect Global IT Company - SydneyNSW
- CCAgile CoachNSW
- TPWintel EngineerVIC
- TPBusiness Analyst | HealthQLD
- CCIT Senior Business AnalystNSW
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC