30GB hard disk MP3 player

If we mentioned an MP3 player offering gigabytes of storage, all wrapped up in a small white case with matching white headphones and white cabling, you’d think we were talking about Apple’s iPod. You’d be wrong. Creative’s styling is reminiscent of Apple’s design and you could think the Zen Xtra is just a cheap imitation — and you’d be wrong again.

Whatever you think about Creative’s design choice, there’s no mistaking that the Zen Xtra is a superb player with brilliant audio quality and intuitive controls delivered at a generous price point. The Zen Xtra can hold 30GB of WMA, MP3 or WAV files (there’s also a 60GB version) and it offers an impressive 96dB signal-to-noise ratio for high audio quality. The versatile Creative MediaSource software allows you to convert files to MP3 and WMA from other formats. The capacious storage translates into space for about 8000 songs, and the Zen Xtra’s support for USB 2.0 means a quick loading time.

The rechargeable (and removable) lithium-ion battery offers 14 hours of playback. Being picky, we didn’t like the neodymium headphones as they had a tendency to muffle the bass and don’t do justice to the Zen’s audio capabilities. To take true advantage of the beefy 50W of power, you’ll need to invest in a decent headset.

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Spencer Dalziel

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