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Creative ZEN X-Fi3 8GB Bluetooth MP3 Player
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Average Customer Review:
( 120 customer reviews )
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80 of 83 found the following review helpful:
Great single purpose player.Dec 05, 2011
Well then, seeing as how this will be the first review here, I'll try to be as thorough as possible.
First and foremost, before you start bashing this player, keep in mind that this is mainly for audio enjoyment. The video and photo capabilities are just a nice little bonus that I'm assuming they threw on there, just because they could. If you want a small internet tablet that you can fit in your pocket, order something else.
This is the second X-fi3 that I've purchased(This is for my wife for yule).
- Small, lightweight, durable and relatively inexpensive if you get a good deal on it. It is indeed a bit chubby by our standards today, but the pictures make it look a lot worse than it actually is. It might even be a little too small, as it makes it sometimes difficult to press the correct capacitive button. (More on this later) I feel much more comfortable jogging, or going to the gym with this in my pocket rather than my $500 phone. I've dropped it, sat on it, stepped on it, and it still functions without a hitch.
- Stereo Bluetooth! Going wireless is just awesome. Though these sort of features have been available for a long while, this is the first that I've seen on such a small device in this price range. Paired up with the Motorola S305, and the sound quality is quite good. Obviously it's not going to be as great as a giant professional headset, but I find it more than adequate while jogging or whilst at the gym. Though I must say it doesn't get quite loud enough if you're in a noisy environment (Mowing the law, working around heavy machinery etc) Also not sure if it's the limitations of the device, or the particular headset, but I've tried 3 different types of bt headsets, and all had the same max volume.
- Sound. Creative in the past has be known for having one of, if not the best sounding players on the market. As far as I can tell, they've continued that quality with this device. I can honestly hear a noticeable difference between the X-fi3 and my wifes ipod nano 5th gen, and my HTC Evo. It's almost night and day. There's also Flac support for the extreme audiophiles out there.
- MicroSD... So many devices in a much higher price range still do not have expandable storage. This is a great feature. With this recent order I paired it with a $10 microsd 16g card. Look at it that way, and you're getting a 24gb player with bluetooth for less than the price of a new gen 8gb Nano (with no bt). For those that have had a Creative product in the past, this is for you; SD and internal storage FINALLY show up in the same list! No more having to switch between internal and expanded storage. It's all seamless! /happydance
- Drag and drop! Plug it in to your usb port and drag your audio/video/photos to it. No software needed. (Insert needless nerd rage at crytunes here)
- lastly, micro usb! No proprietary cords! Lose a cord? order another one for a dollar.
- Controls are sometimes difficult to use. This is NOT a touchscreen device as the title says (Amazon needs to fix that). It has 5 capacitive touch buttons on the front that control everything. With it being so small, it's sometimes a bit difficult to press the correct button. Sweaty fingers? Better dry them off very well, as you wont be able to press anything. It isn't a dealbreaker for me, but might take some getting used to. I'd much rather have physical buttons. Not everything needs to be touchscreen!
- Video/Photo to TV requires a proprietary cable that doesn't come with the device. You can find it on Amazon for 15 or so, might be able to find it elsewhere for less. Though it's relatively pointless, as the resolution of the video that comes out is rather terrible. Might work well if you're in a bind, or say at your parents house and they have no a/v equipment and you want to show them a video and they only have RCA plugins on their TV. But as stated earlier, I'm assuming they just put that feature there because they could, not as a selling point.
Well, I think I've covered everything, if you have any specific questions, I'll do my best to answer them in the comments section. All in all, this is a great little player. If you need something that has great sound and build quality, bluetooth and doesn't require a grant from mensa to learn how to use, this is for you. If you want something that can check your email, chat with your friends, make you toast in the morning (There's an app for that), look elsewhere. :-)
41 of 43 found the following review helpful:
Impressive Audio!Dec 21, 2011
"A Dinosaur you can trust!"
I have been a Portable MP3 creative products fan since the early days of "NOMAD Jukebox" when they were the leaders in this technology. I have purchased many portable MP3 players from them and I have had positive experience especially with the sound quality. This ZEN X-Fi3 is no exception. It has excellent Audio quality now with native FLAC support, this portable X-Fi3 is definitely worth a look.
Since APPLE came out with iPOD, Most of the manufacturers have been having great difficulty to catch up with the features and functions that an iPOD has to offer. Having said, The ZEN X-Fi3 (8GB version) reviewed here has impressive specs Like "Wireless Bluetooth" support and various media playback capabilities with simple drag and drop using windows Explorer and no need for iTUNES! - Yay!
Read the full review and details below:
Once you have put all your media files into this tiny shiny ZEN X-Fi3, It will attempt to index the files and you will see an hour glass and please wait message for some time. This can be frustrating at times as the player has to always read index database files on startup.
With the indexing hurdle down, the next will be to load an artist or Album detail, which also takes some time depending on number of files you have... But once the player finally starts to play your songs, you will be impressed by the sound quality! My blind audio tests tells me that the sound quality is in par with most APPLE IPOD products. IMHO, in some cases better than iPOD if you use "Loss-less" compressed FLAC files.
The included Creative EP-630 In-Ear Noise-Isolating Headphones which are premium quality ear buds from Creative, They do offer very good quality response out of the box. - Truly impressed by it. The Screen displayed the embedded Album art from MP3 files nicely (See the pictures that I have posted on the Amazon Product page for more details)
It supports Wireless Bluetooth natively; I paired this up with my Creative Labs WP-350 Pure Wireless Bluetooth Headphones and the range is very good with little or no hiccups. The Sound quality is pretty good using Bluetooth especially when using apt-X technology. I also attempted with to pair it with Jabra CLIPPER Bluetooth Stereo Headset but sadly could not get it to work. The previous generation player like Creative ZEN Style M300 4 GB MP3 was able to support my Jabra Clipper. I have hopes that Creative will fix that with future firmware update.
Yeah! There is a built-in speaker too! (Mono) but adequate enough to listen privately, I am listening to it while I write this review and sounds like a little tin can but still okay :-)
Video / Photo Playback:
The Video / Photo playback is there as a "novelty feature" but any practical use of this would be simply ridiculous! as the resolution of "composite Video" output is just too crappy for any new generation Televisions. Having said, You can put "Videos" and "Photos" just to prove a point!. - I do not recommend using this player for these features.
In my tests, I can confirm that it does play:
- WMV 9 - up to 512 x 384 (Stereo, up to 1Mbps, up to 30fps)
- AVI (MPEG-4-SP/DivX4/5/Xvid) - up to 640 x 480 (Stereo, up to 1Mbps, up to 24fps)
- JPEG - up to 8MP (2816 x 3520)
- Optimal would be (704 x 880) for the screen
FM Radio Playback:
FM Radio plays only when you have headphones connected! - This is by design as it needs that headphone wire as antenna. In my tests, I feel FM radio reception is fairly good stereo on most FM stations. The FM Radio does display the track details from station that you are playing which is nice thing to have.
IMHO, the interface could have been better as most of the track title is tiny and truncated with too much of the screen real estate wasted. I am sure creative can easily fix this by a Firmware update.
It does have a built-in MIC; the recording interface is separate from Audio recording playback interface which still beats me. Why have two different menu options for audio recording and playback?
BTW, I think my product for review is defective(**) as I could not get MIC recording to work! I am eager to learn from others if they could get the MIC interface to work. Please comment if you could get it to work.
*** (See Updates below) The product for review was defective. It is not a problem in other units.
The ZEN X-F3 supports Audio books from Audible but does not have bookmarking feature!(**) However, the player can resume playback from the last played position after it has powered up.
(**) EDIT: Audible books does remember the last position. If you are reading multiple Audible books and if you are switching between them, the player will remember the last position of that book next time you attempt to play. This position is remembered across complete shutdown as well.
In simple terms NO is the answer. The player resumes its previous playback position when it is switched on. If the music playback was paused before the player was switched off, it will resume playback once it is switched on. (Provided you pressed the OFF button and the Shutdown message was displayed)
The player has MicroSD card slot for expandability, in my tests I found that Songs stored in the internal memory and microSD card will be listed out together on the user interface when you browse your music contents on the player - Yay! Finally!. However, the scanning process may take a few extra minutes depending on the number of songs you have. Bottom-line is more songs and files you have it may take considerable amount of time before you can use the player.
Date / Time / Alarm functions:
These are available and they do work. What more can I say? Again, these are considered as "bonus" features.
Battery life is rated for 20 hrs!, In my tests it did work for about 16 hrs before dying out. The Battery level indicator is kind of "inaccurate" at best and may need some additional recalibration by future Firmware update.
Make sure that you fully charge the battery for 8hrs on a powered USB port for the initial charge and to maximize the battery please follow these tips:
- Try to minimize skipping tracks. As a general guideline, the more you use your player's interface and features (such as the X-Fi /EQ enhancements), the more power it consumes thereby reducing battery life.
- Set the player's LCD brightness to a lower level.
It is a 3-1/2 star product, It is definitely worth a look as the sound quality is very good, The included Earphones are better than average. The Menu is okay but could have been better, Wireless Bluetooth functions Okay with creative headphones.
If you want simple easy to use portable MP3 player with no other additional features that you care about then the best choice would be SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 8 GB MP3 Player (Black)
UPDATE Jan 11, 2012:
As stated above and also in the comments my review unit had couple of problems and I had to contact Creative for RMA, I am happy to report that Creative's RMA process was smooth and very professional. I had to contact creative technical support via email and open RMA online. The defective unit was replaced and I am pleased with the transaction.
Also, The MIC problem mentioned above was due to defective unit. The Pairing issue with Jabra CLIPPER Bluetooth Stereo Headset has been resolved in the replacement unit that I received from creative. Looks that we might have a new Firmware fix or just simply my initial review unit had multiple problems.
Update March 15, 2012:
This player is driving me nuts for past 3-4 days. The touch interface has become temperamental. I do not know if the player has become defective (Again??) or it is just the inherent issue with the touch buttons but I am having hard time changing tracks and I have seen it randomly display menus which I never pressed.
There is something not right. The touch buttons has become erratic for me.
It is seriously losing one star from my initial 4 star rating to a downgrade to 3 stars -- Sorry Creative. I have to be honest here.
Creative developers if you are reading this. Please take this feedback and get to the drawing board on the touch buttons.
17 of 18 found the following review helpful:
Unresponsive playerMar 15, 2012
By Y. Kim
I have been looking for a good iPod replacement. The iPod is a great music playing device for sure, however, I did not like the way to use iTunes to put and to manage my MP3 files on iPods. I just wanted a MP3 player that can be connected as an external drive and did not need to worry about loosing all my music libraries by synching a MP3 player to a wrong computer accidentally. Then I had a change to have the Creative ZEN X-Fi 3. I really wanted this MP3 player to replace my iPod, however, I am still using my iPod and here is why.
This is a very tiny player. It is little bigger than the iPod shuffle and fits any pocket in your pants. The sound quality is acceptable and I had no complaint about it. However, the problem came from its operability. It just does not respond well with my click and the response was very slow. I had a really hard time to navigate the menus and to choose a song. And the quality of display was disappointing. I throw some video files in it and the ZEN X-Fi 3 could play it, but it did not look good due to the quality of the LCD display it has.
The best part of the ZEN X-Fi 3 is that it supports bluetooth. I have more than several bluetooth headsets and have really enjoyed a cordless freedom. The ZEN X-Fi 3 works great with my Sony bluetooth stereo headset. And the FM radio is a big plus. I did not have any problem to listen all the local radio stations.
But, I do not carry the ZEN X-Fi 3 anymore and the main reason is that it is a MP3 player with bad touch experience. I hope Creative improves this in the next version. I really wanted to like this player and it just did not meet my expectations.
10 of 11 found the following review helpful:
DisappointedFeb 14, 2012
By Jarold Gschwind
I have owned several Creative mp3 players and was happy with all of them until I purchased the X-Fi3. I purchased the X-Fi3 because of it's bluetooth connectivity. Although I was able to pair the X-Fi3 to my car stereo easily, the sound quality was not good (sounded tinny). I experimented with the X-Fi settings as well as the settings for base and treble on the car, but was never able to improve the sound quality. After I confirmed that my car stereo supports the A2DP profile (as recommended by Creative) I decided the bluetooth feature was not going to work for me. Incidentally, my wife's iPhone 4 sounds great when paired to our car stereo. Since bluetooth connectivity was the primary reason I purchased the X-Fi3, I finally returned it for a partial refund. I know, procrastination caused me to not return the player within 30 days of purchase. Here are some more reasons I returned the X-Fi3.
1. Intermittent poor sound quality:
When listening to the X-Fi3 with earphones, some songs sounded fine, but others had very poor sound quality. For example, on vocals it sounded like the singer had forgotten a microphone and was singing in another room. I tried playing the same song (identical mp3 file) with my old X-Fi player using the same earphones and the sound was great. I never solved this problem.
2. Difficulty in creating playlists:
Except for the built in DJ playlists, it isn't possible to create playlists on the X-Fi3. I had been creating playlists with Windows Media Player and syncing them to my old X-Fi and this worked just fine. However, it isn't nearly that simple with the X-Fi3. When creating playlists on Windows Media Player, you must save them in the non-standard m3u file format instead of the wpl format normally used by media player. Creative has the following web page that describes the process fully.
I was eventually able to create a playlist and copy it to the X-Fi3, but I considered it to be a very painful procedure when compared to the simplicity of simply syncing an existing playlist to my old X-Fi.
3. Slow startup when using a micro SD card.
I purchased a micro SD card to add more music to the X-Fi3 library. This worked fine except that the X-Fi3 had to search the SD card each time when powering up. I was too impatient to wait for this, so I removed the micro SD card to speed up the startup process.
Overall, I feel that Creative missed the mark with the X-Fi3. The only things I really liked about this product were the size and the price. I may eventually get another bluetooth enabled mp3 player, but in the meantime I'll use my old X-Fi and plug it in to the car stereo. Alternately, I will use an iPhone or another bluetooth enabled device. It's possible I received a defective player, but I decided not to try a replacement. Will I purchase another Creative product? Probably not.
14 of 17 found the following review helpful:
HorribleMar 14, 2012
I bought this player to play audio books. I have had multiple Creative products in the past and this product is by far, the very worst. I actually can't think of a product I've ever bought in my life that was so useless. This product does not have bookmarks (which Creative admits: [...]). Additionally, because it is a touch screen, anytime something brushes up against it, the player starts the track over or skips to another track, unless you have the player locked. This means you spend a lot of time trying to find where in the book you were because there are no bookmarks to tell you. Also, there is no sleep function or automatic shutoff function. If you want to listen to something while falling asleep, there is no way to tell the player to shut off after playing for a certain period of time, unlike previous Creative products. This makes the product totally useless for listening to anything while falling asleep. In total, the products lack of bookmark, too sensitive and inaccurate touch screen, and the lack of a sleep function, make this product essentially useless to me. To make the whole thing more infuriating, Creative does not offer good customer support or services. There is not a single phone number on their website which you can call to talk to someone. You have to submit an email and wait for them to send an email back to you. In my experience, they have never answered a question but instead just send links to websites which might give you relevant information. This has never been helpful.
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