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Creative ZEN X-Fi Style MP3 Player 16GB (Black)
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Average Customer Review:
( 88 customer reviews )
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53 of 53 found the following review helpful:
A great low-cost, high-performance player with minor annoyancesAug 17, 2010
By John Hearne
I've been using Creative MP3 players for years, going back to the 30gb Jukebox. I've owned at least three different models of Creative players as well as some other non-Apple brands. I keep coming back to Creative because I'm not willing to pay a premium for the "IPOD" name and Creative generally matches them feature for feature.
Overall, I am happy with the Style. I purchased a 32gb player and love having plenty of storage. I now have all of my music and most of my audio books and it is very convenient.
I listen to spoken word (radio shows, audio books) the majority of the time. For this application, the player does well. The built-in speaker works great in non-noisy environments and I often use it when working in the kitchen with satisfactory results. I live in a rural area and thought that the performance of the FM radio was better than I expected.
The player does not require any special software, you simply use Windows Explorer to cut and paste your music on to the player. Very simple and very easy.
My gripes are minor but annoying. First, on older players, the charging icon alternated between a "plug" and the current battery level. This allowed you to know that the player was charging and how close it was to being done. The Style does not do this and simply shows a plug followed by the battery meter increasing. There is no way to know the charging status of the player.
Second, a feature found on earlier Creative products was time scaling. This allowed you to listen to your file at speeds faster or slower than originally recorded without affecting the audio quality. The Style does not have this option and it is sorely missed.
Finally, the players ability to continue at the same point when powered off sucks. If you don't set a bookmark and the player powers down, you will lose your place. On older players, the track would generally resume from the point you had left it without a bookmark.
While these annoyance are there, I really do like the player and would buy another without hesitation.
36 of 39 found the following review helpful:
This "Zen Style" vs "iPod-4"Aug 25, 2010
By G. William Mitchell
For the past year I've been using 2 different mp3 players; the 8GB Apple iPod (4th generation), and an older 2GB "Creative Zen Nano Plus". But I wanted something new with a customizable EQ, so this newly released MP3 player by Creative Labs seemed to be the perfect choice (official release date: April/2010).
ABOUT THE EQ:
This Zen Style has 8 preset EQ settings, and 1 all-important customizable 5-band EQ. However, the custom EQs 5-band adjustable frequency range is 80 Hz -13,000 Hz, which is okay on the 80 Hz bass end (the separate "bass boost" option helped, but it also had the potential to make some songs sound a bit muddy), but it is a bit too low on the 13,000 Hz treble end (IMO).
With that said however, enabling the X-Fi enhancement feature does help to regain much of this lost brightness (can be set to 10 different levels of intensity). But this may also make some of the 'other' songs sound too "unnatural" or "over-processed". The unfortunate part here is, that all songs are different, so the X-Fi enhancement's algorithm will process them all a bit differently. Therefore, there really is no perfect "sweet spot" for the X-Fi level. So you might be limited to a fairly low setting to prevent an "over processed" sound on other songs.
What also attracted me to the this ZEN player was it's simple "Drag-N-Drop" options to add pre-edited playlist folders (vs. using the mandatory iTunes software to do this on the iPod). But as another reviewer correctly pointed out about Creative's poor software, drag-n-drop did not work for me either on any of my playlist folders, (even WITH the optional computer software called "Creative Centrale"). Even after reboots, it only showed the combined songs (in alphabetical order) in the "All Tracks" folder. Therefore, the only way for me to add my 5 playlist folders is by highlighting EACH INDIVIDUAL song in the player, then directing it into a newly created playlist folder. For someone who might have 1000+ songs, this will be a LONG tedious task. However, one helpful reviewer said a 3rd party program called "Media Monkey" will fix this, which I have not tried yet. But I CAN say that it is a program that Leo Laporte ("the tech guy") has often recommended on his national radio show to solve such problems (including being a good alternative to using "iTunes").
* The unit's graphic interface (the settings & navigation screens) look great! They are customizable, simple, & colorful. Ascetically, it completely blows away my iPod's boring black & white screens.
* The pushbutton interface makes navigation easier & quicker (vs. the iPod's often "jumpy" touch-wheel). However, the 9-buttons do present a slight learning curve (yes, those 3 big rubber pads that appear as 3 buttons on the front, are actually 9 smaller buttons with different functions).
* The adjustable X-Fi enhancement option can really give those old "flat" sounding mp3s new life again by adding a "much fuller dynamic" to them (especially on mp3s @ 128 kbps and below). But if set too high, it can also make already good sounding mp3s sound a bit over-processed.
* You can delete songs on-the-fly, (which I can't do on my iPod). This is a great feature to have for editing songs when your away from your computer.
* The idea of making the bottom, left-side button a "custom button" is brilliant! This button can be programmed to be a shortcut to any one of 8 different functions/screens, including the sometimes elusive volume screen.
* As mentioned earlier, a lack-luster EQ on the treble end, and limited drag-n-drop capabilities are 2 big downsides for me. They compromise both sound quality & user friendliness.
* The 9 tiny front buttons might be too small & flush for users with big thumbs. One reviewer pointed-out that he has to use his thumbNAILS to click the buttons.
* FM reception was a bit below average (as compared to previous mp3 players using the same exact headphones as the FM antenna). A good percentage of locked-in FM stations it found here in Denver, CO only came through in Mono.
In summery, this is an "okay" player, with just a borderline 3-star rating. If it had a brighter treble range on the EQ, and much better firmware, this would be a solid 4 to 4.5 star player. It's not a "bad" player mind you...just not that great. If the EQ range isn't a big deal to you, and you don't mind using a 3rd party program like the free "Media Monkey" to create your playlists, plus could really use the X-Fi enhancer to revive those lack-luster 128kbps mp3s...then you should consider this as a very solid choice for your next mp3 player. If not, then I would humbly suggest you keep looking.
20 of 20 found the following review helpful:
Worth the price!Jul 31, 2010
This is the third zen I've had. The first one was a ZEN Micro, the second was just a Zen, and now this one. The first one I had died after 2 years, but that was expected as I was young and threw it around a lot, plus it still lasted a lot longer than my first gen iPod. The second Zen is still going, with no problems at all 3 years later.
I'm hoping this one will live as long as the others. On to the actual review. First off, the software on the Zen is basically the same as before. I always liked the menus and thought they were easy to navigate. I enjoy touch screens, but when driving I need physical buttons so I don't have to look down to see what I'm choosing, so this device was a perfect choice.
The built-in speaker isn't perfect, but I'll rarely use it anyways and it's a nice addition. The X-Fi technology is amazing. Try listening to some true FLAC files and you will be stunned. The sound quality is something I could not experience with my iPhone 3G or Samsung Captivate.
I really like the look and feel of this MP3 player. It doesn't do everything possible, but it's priced to justify that. You can tell it was made with care, and if it's anything like the last Zen that looks almost like this one, it's sturdy. (I've dropped that one at least 20 times.)
What makes this MP3 player one of my favorites is that you don't HAVE to use their sync program. I ditched my iPhone because I dislike iTunes and was tired of trying to make it work around it. The Zen will work in Windows Media, MediaMonkey, Winamp, iTunes (if that's what you like), and more. You don't have to worry about installing something else and moving your library.
Overall, I love this MP3 player. It's just like the one before it, only a bit better. I recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind not being able to play games or doesn't need a touch screen.
26 of 33 found the following review helpful:
Creative On A CliffJul 04, 2010
Worst. Software. Ever.
The bottom line is technology is supposed to make life easier and Creative seems to go out of their way to make things MUCH more difficult, and have been doing so every time they "improve" their software. Good hardware, lousy software.
In a nutshell, that is the problem with Creative Labs. As a long time early buyer of Creative MP3 players (starting with the original Nomad), I have watched as Creative's software and user interfaces have steadily gone downhill. If Creative brought back the Play Center - which I use as my music data base still, even with Win 7 - you just can't sync, they would have a much better product. In my opinion, each software "enhancement" starting with Media Center has increasing made the software less user friendly, more confusing and harder to use.
In today's "drag and drop" environment this is unacceptable. As a long time user and owner of multiple Creative products, you would think that the transition to a new player would be seamless; not so. Despite having all of my playlists ready to go, I had to RECREATE EVERY ONE to get them on the Zen style. There are numerous other problems with the software that will dissuade many people from buying this player, i.e. there is no way to sync the player and software, so you have to sync each play-list one at a time.
I tried to "trick" the player by dropping playlists directly into the players folder using my computer (the Zen shows up as an external hard drive). Of course since this is intuitive, logical and simple, it does not work with Creative Centrale. If Centrale was as intuitive as Play Center, this wouldn't be necessary.
For those unfamiliar with the Play Center software, it was a thing of beauty. All of the player info was on one side and the software data on the other. When you plugged the player in you could sync the player with the software (PC), or go from one to the other. Or, you could highlight a playlist push a button and watch it seamlessly transfer, player to computer, or vice versa. The ease of the file transfer comes in handy if you ever get a new computer, or have to reinstall your OS. In fact, having gone through this process numerous times, all I needed to do was load the software, plug in the player, push a button and sit back. When you spend hours (or days)getting your music just right, you don't want to ever have to repeat that process.
As a precautionary measure I have the data for the Zen Style on two computers. But with that said, it will still be a cumbersome process to reload all of my music, photos etc, on the player, or new PC, if something goes wrong. Another example of how difficult Creative makes things is the fact that the microphone records in WAV, which was not recognized in the music folder. In order to create a playlist with recordings, I had to find software to convert the WAV to MP3. Why not keep it in the microphone folder you ask? Simple, you can't change the name of the file, so all you have is dates. There are too many other issues to go into, but be forewarned, if simplicity and frequent data management is important to you, LOOK ELSEWHERE. If I wanted to frequently manage my music, photos, etc. this player would be going back. The hardware, price, lack of a touch screen (I'm probably in the minority here) and most importantly for me external speaker are the only reasons why I'm keeping this player.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
Good quality MP3 player, unbeatable priceSep 22, 2011
I've always been a fan of Creative products. I've figured that since they've been manufacturing sound cards for PCs for two decades plus, they know a bit about digital sound. I've owned a Creative Muvo (which went through the wash and dryer, came out still working once I put a new battery in), a Zen V-Plus (upgraded to this for more music space), a Zen Mozaic (upgraded to this for more music space), and now the Zen X-Fi Style when I accidentally smashed my Mozaic.
My requirements for buying my latest mp3 player were simple: 16gb, actual buttons (NO TOUCH SCREEN/PAD), good sound reproduction, an integrated speaker, and not made by Apple (I had a 40gb 3rd gen iPod. Anyone who has owned one of these knows what I mean by "bad experience"). The X-Fi Style fit all my requirements.
Interface: The interface is almost identical to that of the Mozaic, so those of you looking to upgrade will find it pleasantly familiar, since I liked the Mozaic's interface. You can jump to letters of the alphabet by pushing "right" on the main button and scrolling to the appropriate letter, and all sorts of other familiar features. Has "Creative Centrale" loaded onto the player itself, so you can install it on your PC (not sure about mac) from the mp3 player. A big plus for me was the fact that it has BUTTONS, instead of a touch-based interface. I don't like the idea of having to lock the player every time I want to listen to a song for fear of changing the song.
Sound: The sound reproduction is amazing, and VERY noticeable. Creative's X-Fi tech isn't just some gimmick to sell a new gen of Mp3 players, it actually provides better sound reproduction by FAR in comparison to any other Mp3 player I've heard, and I'm not an audiophile.
Speaker: The speaker is an improvement over the Mozaic speaker from what I can tell. It's about the same volume, but has a clearer sound to it (far less distortion than the Mozaic speaker). Not loud for situations where there's much background noise (ie people talking, other music) but adequate for sharing songs with folks, listening while working, and generally playing irritating songs to annoy others nearby.
Display/Video: Good sized display, adequate for watching most videos. There's something odd about the video converter in Creative Centrale that causes some videos to flicker. I'll try another video format to see if it works better (was using WMV format).
A few "negatives":
1. No place for a tether. I had to get a silicon case with a belt attachment, and put a tether on that. I like to carry my player around my neck, since it keeps the cord out of my way.
2. A bit large. I was used to my other Creative players, which are smaller. This is on the larger end of their "portable" lines, but is likely due to the fact that it has a larger screen than any of their portables, and the X-fi hardware probably adds a bit to it.
3. Creative Centrale isn't the best software. It's adequate, it works, but there's so many ways that they could make it a bit more user friendly.
4. Lack of accessories. Creative isn't very big on making accessories for their own products, relying on other manufacturers/vendors to do it for them. If the player isn't that popular, nobody's going to make accessories, making it even less popular. I would LIKE to see some better cases made for it, for one, instead of the same silicon rubber cases in various colors (ie a harder case with a lanyard hookup!)
All in all: Good product, good price. If you want a portable player that's a player (as opposed to a small wi-fi based internet appliance with mp3/video capability for 3x the price) then this is what you want.
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