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ZEN X-Fi with Wireless LAN 32GB
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Average Customer Review:
( 408 customer reviews )
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379 of 389 found the following review helpful:
Excellent player, but no fifth star until they bring back analog interfaceSep 14, 2008
First, an introduction: Recently I've owned and used and liked an iPod 4th gen 80gb, zune 80, iPod 5th gen 80gb, creative zen vision: m 30gb AND 60gb versions (the holy grail to so many mp3 player fans), and I am a power user with a music library of 35gb, all tagged using the free Media Monkey software. I know what I'm talking about. (If you're curious, the two ipods were returned, the ZVM30 was given to my cousin when I got the 60, the ZVM60 was destroyed in iraq and so was the Zune80)
Looks extremely sexy, definitely on the iPod and Zune level of sexiness.
It's ridiculously lightweight and weighs just a bit more than a nano and about half as much as a harddrive bearing zune or ipod.
Video transfer/conversion does not apply to me, so I will not be reviewing it.
IM chat gimmick is worthless, move along.
wifi connect works and is easy to set up, but there is no link to shoutcast or icecast directories. Instead, creative "media box" will show up with internet access, but has a very limited selection of podcast streams, and almost no streaming music.
Streaming music from a local wireless network is very cool, but chews up the otherwise good battery life, limiting its usefulness.
SD card support is hardly seamless, and has a limited set of browsing functions, but this may be nitpicking as most players don't bother to include ANY expandable memory.
x-fi sounds "different" but not unanimously "better", and uses more battery, not really a selling feature then
The headphones are awesome and while they're compared as worse than the zune 80's included headphones, the zen's fit more comfortably (to me) and sound just as good.
The built in speaker is very cool and sounds surprisingly good for its size, there is never any distortion even at maximum volume (distortion is what makes speakerphones and other bad+loud audio sources sound so horrible). It is perfect for showing a song to a friend or friends or playing a little background music in a quiet room.
No line out, but using the headphone jack at full volume sounds just fine on my car stereo and home stereo, with no distortion.
A lot of people complain about the Creative software but you really never need to use it except for video transfer. I use Media Monkey to sync my music and it works flawlessly. Everyone has Windows Media Player and that syncs just fine with the player. It's an MTP device and that means that a lot of different programs can sync with it. So except for video issues, you really have no reason in the world to complain about the creative software.
The nine button grid is 4 directions and a center "select" button, and on many menus and lists the diagonal four buttons act as home/end and pageup/down, but on many screens they are useless. If they were customizable they could be very powerful! Faster seeking, view toggles, many possibilities, if they were customizable. Firmware update maybe?
I have long fingers and big hands and the player is comfortable to hold, but the buttons are small and indistinct, you have to concentrate a little to be sure you press the correct one if you are fishing for the next/prev track or the volume up/down buttons in your pocket. The pause button is unmissable though, and that is most important.
The zen vision:m's vertical slider with side to side rocking and touchpad tap for select was really perfect for an audio player, and I find myself missing it a lot (but I don't miss that player's poor battery life, large size or ogreish looks)
A disappointment: On no screen are the grid buttons used to refer to a specific function on a grid on the screen (which would have opened some very quick and intuitive menu options), they are ALWAYS arrow buttons with a center select, and sometimes other use diagonal buttons.
Creative have dropped the ball a little by adding four new buttons and not using them to their full potential. The most notable example is that the IM chat function could have used a cell-phone style text entry, but instead uses a very obtuse method that keeps the buttons as arrow keys. Once you've moved past the chat function and removed it from the main menu, you'll then notice that on the 'now playing' screen, the most common and important screen, the four diagonal buttons don't do anything at all. :(
The customizable shortcut button is still here and still awesome, easily settable by simply holding it down. It comes preset to the x-fi settings screen, which should have been integrated into the EQ screen anyway. Mine is set to jump to 'now playing', perfect for changing volume or next/prev track quickly from any menu, and then you can press back to return to wherever you were.
The menu button (or "right click" button as I call it) shows the list of options for most screens, but the list sometimes runs off the top and bottom by just a few lines and could have been scaled down to fit them all. Would have been nice to enable the 'diagonal' buttons to be shortcuts for some of the common menu items, while the menu is open.
The Interface (the most important part of any mp3 player):
It may sound like I'm pointing out a lot of flaws in the device's usability, but let me assure you it really is fantastic to use. The device interface is the same as the venerable ZVM, and is powerful, attractive, and simple. The 'right click' menus offer a lot of functionality while being intuitive to any computer user; rather than hide a cluttered pile of settings in the main menu settings screen, many settings are accessed from the screen they're related to. I'm a big fan of the ZVM interface and am glad they didn't change it. On the Zen the graphics have been given quite a boost since the ZVM days, and the gui really is pretty.
Useful things the Zen players do that ipod and zune do NOT under any circumstances support:
- [zune] sync with 3rd party software
- 'now playing' playlist access
- creation/saving of playlists on the fly
- ability to add a track to the 'now playing' list allows you to build a playlist and not interrupt currently playing track, great for playing music for others
- bookmark track positions (great for podcasts, audiobooks, long music mixes)
- switch between view of albums, artists, or track in the music menus
- rearrange items when you customize the main menu
- "dj" menu with options like "play popular" and "play highly rated"
- delete actual tracks from within the player
- record voice
- hide photos/video easily, obviously to hide porn when showing off your player to your mom
- actual usb port, no proprietary connector
- built in speaker
- wifi network access
I see this player is squaring off against the ipod and zune, and is already going above and beyond them both, feature by feature.
- no rapid way to seek in a track
- no "go to album" or "go to genre" for a track, only "go to artist"
- pageup/down buttons stop working when you move "right" to the list of letter shortcuts on a long list, and they don't work on the 'right click' menu
- speaker should have been put on the left side, your hand ends up covering it up sometimes, when you hold it right handedly
141 of 145 found the following review helpful:
Great sound, nice upgrade to the Creative Zen: bass lovers will love this.Jul 30, 2008
I bought this because I was jealous of my wife's Creative Zen 8 GB player.
But really, I bought this because of the promised X-Fi sound quality. I have an X-Fi audio card for my desktop PC and I really love the enhanced MP3 sound quality and was hoping for more of the same in a portable unit. The Creative Zen X-Fi does not disappoint, straight out of the box I found the sound to be full of the bass tones I love so much. The X-Fi settings add some nice quality to my tones and vibrate my little eardrums with heavy beats. With the included headphones the bass was almost overwhelming for me, but with my Bose Triport IE's I found the sound to be very satisfying.
So lets get down to brass tacks here. So far here's what I love:
*) The new iPhoney sleek look is very nice, an improvement I think.
*) The buttons have a nice tactile feel. With very little practice I can easily find the play button and volume adjustment without looking. Visually its a little harder to figure out which button is where.
*) Even better, the buttons never get pressed unintentionally. This is a big plus since I use it for working out and yard work where I'm often bending over; my clix was constantly getting paused or fast forwarded unintentionally which has been a constant source of annoyance!
*) I found it virtually effortless to hook this up to my PC, connect to my existing MediaMonkey library and download all of my songs and playlists.
*) Great sound for bass lovers. X-fi crystallizer makes for a crisper quality if thats what you like.
*) Wi-fi connection, hooked up to my network easily and I was browsing the Creative Media Center in minutes.
*) Very lightweight compared to most of my other players.
*) User Interface: If you are familiar with Creative players then you will find the buttons easy to understand and use. I find the basic menu system easy to understand and navigate. Lots of nice background images to choose from.
*) Easy firmware update, I downloaded the latest firmware from Creative website and easily installed it.
*) Decent headphones included -- possibly the best I've ever seen packaged with an MP3 player.
*) Lightweight, easy to carry, seems to be pretty rugged construction, fits nicely in a pocket.
*) Nice battery life: compared to my Clix 2 (4 ish hours) or my iPod Touch (about same!) this thing lasts forever at about 10ish hours.
*) Big bold colorful screen, which I find easy to read even in daylight.
*) I love the way it pops right back to where I left off even after a power off, it comes right back to the Now Playing screen and resumes my playlist. Most of my other players don't do this very well so its a plus when it works the way I think it should.
And the things that are not so great:
*) Well, as is the "case" with many non-Apple players, accessories are not easy to come by. This seems to be a bit thicker than its predecessor so I don't think the old Zen cases are going to fit very well. Also, the power button has been moved to the back of the player which will mean you need a special case to be able to access the power button. As of this writing, I can't find a single X-Fi leather case out there, not even from Creative. -- Update: I just ordered a leather case direct from Creative, hoping its a good one! Update: Found an i-nique case which is very nice, with the only problem being hard to access that power button on the back... still waiting for the perfect case!
Thats about it, I highly recommend this player as a heck of a lot of MP3 player for the price (I paid more for my 8GB Clix 2 and a lot more for my 16B Touch!). In many ways I like it better than the Clix 2 although the Clix does have the crispest sound I've ever heard from a player. The Touch of course is a wonderful unit but it is bigger, heavier and more expensive.
395 of 419 found the following review helpful:
Awesome portable media player, bad softwareJul 24, 2008
By Jesus Hector Fernandez
Watch Video Here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2MT954C8FQVXL Hi.
This is the Zen X-Fi in action, player seems very good (for me at least) its got many features which I like, the only downside for now has been the software that is bundled with the player which for me it is not a very good software, anyway if you want to see it in action check out the video.
91 of 97 found the following review helpful:
Great player hogtied with pretty lousy software.Aug 22, 2008
In the nearly four weeks that I've had the Zen X-Fi, I'd have to say that the player itself is an excellent device. It's certainly one of the best sounding players available, although personally I think that the X-Fi signal processing is more gimmick than benefit. The built-in speaker is cute, but it seems hardly worth it given its transistor radio-like fidelity. Coming from a wonderfully frustrating experience with its predecessor, the Zen (bricked in less than a month), I knew the design of the onboard UI pretty well already. It's a breeze to learn and navigate, and aside from quirks with playlist generation, is as easy as the interface on an iPod or Zune.
That said, the X-Fi is saddled with some major hindrances, not the least of which is the unstable client software that you use to manage the player. A lot of video formats have to be translated before they will work on the X-Fi; this is done through the aforementioned software known as Creative Centrale. Unfortunately it also has this irritating tendency to lock up on my media machine and destabilize XP Pro when doing so. You also need this software if you want to use any non-DRM AAC files, like those often found on iPods and as well deeply entrenched in my own digital library. These M4A files also need "processing" before an X-Fi is able to understand them, so unlike my experiences with my Sony NWZ-A818, where drag-n-drop management through Windows Explorer is conveniently possible. On the X-Fi (or the Zen, for that matter), drag-n-drop via Windows Explorer or any other file manager is only available with MP3 and WMA files.
The X-Fi also is limited to compressed audio files; it will not understand lossless formats, which is unfortunate given the available storage capacity. Indicated battery life has been disappointing as well. Supposedly good up to 30 hrs of audio listening, by about 4 or 5 hours the charge indicator is down to 50%, making anything close to 30 hours seem like wishful thinking. The nine-button main control array does take a bit of time to get used to, even though it's very similar to the Zen's main control configuration. The nagging irritant is the small size of the buttons, which can be easy to mis-hit even with my smallish fingers.
(Added 8/26/08: the X-Fi is also currently saddled with a problem with how well it actually executes 'random play', which in practice it isn't anything close to well at all. Unfortunately for my initial review I didn't use random song selection mode much with my X-Fi in the first month of ownership so I didn't catch onto this malaise until a couple of weeks ago. Simply put, the X-Fi in random play mode has a habit of repeating song tracks that it just played, sometimes several times. Fact is, even when it's not repeating songs the random play mode isn't very random anyways, often playing multiple songs from the same album in succession even though there may be hundreds of albums available for it to choose from. The 'repeat' problem seems to have improved with the most recent firmware update, but it's just another irritating flaw that gives pause in wanting to rate this device higher and really is limiting it from its potential as a truly superb device. We X-Fi users can only hope that Creative will finally get the firmware corrected and distributed, hopefully sooner than later.)
Voice recording is a nice feature, although I doubt that for myself I'll use it all that much. I've yet to have the need to add an SD card, though I do have misgivings about the X-Fi firmware's inability to consider the card's contents as being integral with the content stored in the on-board flash memory, since the SD card--and subsequently its contained contents--shows up as a separate folder item at the root menu level, apart from the Music, Video and other folders. I pretty much feel the same ambivalence about the 32GB X-Fi's Wi-Fi capability; the pseudo multitap-fed Chat texting function is useless to me, and streaming from my media PC doesn't do me any favors since 95% of my use time with the X-Fi is far away from home with no available means of access to my media server (the X-Fi only searches for media content servers that are on available wireless networks nearby to it).
I'm still more than a little apprehensive when it comes to the topic of durability; my experiences with the Zen and its problems weren't enough to stop me from trying the X-Fi, but they did give pause when it comes to trusting that this device will last until I again get the itch to sample another player. FM radio reception is spotty in my area, and seems to work better (or worse) depending on which set of aftermarket cans I choose to use with the X-Fi.
I didn't care much for the standard in-ear buds; they sound excessively thin and bright to me and also transmit a fair amount of microphonics through its cabling. Instead, I primarily use my Shure SE530 canals with the X-Fi, and the sound created between the two is indeed excellent. My multiple pairs of Sennheiser PX100s (each chosen for use depending on how broken-in I want the sound to be) also sound great with the X-Fi. I've also used my less efficient Sennheiser HD650 and recently purchased Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 with the X-Fi. With more demanding, less efficient sets like these, the X-Fi does struggle to provide enough amplification, but in a pinch they do work without me having to resort to using one of my headphone amps.
Other nitpicks: I thoroughly dislike the move of the power/hold switch to the back (the Zen had it on the side); it's simply a less convenient location. Ambivalent about the iPhonesque type styling, although it does lend an air of classiness to the device. Hate the smudge-filled fingerprint magnet of a front face, and dislike the cheap-looking silver back (the Zen's matte black back is more appealing to my eye). The added thickness over that of the Zen isn't TOO much of a disappointment given the increase in features, but it does give the X-Fi a slightly chunkier proportion over the svelte Zen. The reset switch is an improvement over the one on the Zen; unfortunately, I've already had to use it a number times as well.
That's basically it; despite its flaws the 32GB Zen X-Fi offers superb audio and video performance, which for me is still far more important than all else. In the end it's largely a four-star device contemptuously held back by wretched, one-star software. I know full well that Creative has their loyal supporters, but aside from their excellent sound cards I'm still not sold on the overall goodness of the rest of their product lineup. The four-letter curse words seem to come hot and heavy nearly every time I hooked up either the Zen and especially the Zen X-Fi to the computer; none of my remaining current hoard of devices brought on that sort of onslaught, including my once-dreaded Zune 1.0 player. However once I got the X-Fi loaded for bear, it becomes one of the sweetest performing devices I've ever used, although I did find that it has issues with (not-so) random play. Videos looks great. Songs sound fantastic. If only the software wasn't so BAD...considering all of the intervening years between my first Creative player, the venerable 20GB Nomad Zen and this one, is it too much to ask of Creative for them to finally GET how to write a decent software application?
31 of 32 found the following review helpful:
Great Value Exceptional ProductJan 22, 2009
I am a big fan of Creative Lab products and the customer support I've received in the past from them. My requirements from an MP3 player are pretty simple, I want my music to sound good, I want to be able to listen to audio books, and if I can watch a movie on it I want the movie to look good. You'd think every MP3 player would be able to do at least two out of three. I find the sound quality in Creative products to be exceptional, even the modest Zen stone with its very limited features has great sound quality. The x-fi series goes a step beyond. Crisp and pristine high range, subtle and pure mid range, and faithful, clear bass, even without customizing the EQ, the presets play exactly as you'd expect from your higher end home theatre.
I agree with the reviewer who didn't like the software, but I don't really like the software with any MP3 player. As much as I have respect for Apple as a company and have rooted for them since the late eighties and groaned when they've sunk money into a product that tanked (like their early PDA) I really personally don't like the iPod and in a large part because of the proprietary software, and though I appreciate that unlike their ill received PDA the iPod is priced to make a profit, I think it's too expensive at each price point. In that respect I am willing to suffer through the clumsy software with Creative Control center, clumsier than the media center that came with the other Zen I have. The video converter, however, is excellent, intuitive and quick.
In this price range I have yet to hear any other mp3 compare favorably to the faithful sound reproduction or exceed the quality of the video. I worked for the doomed Circuit City for eight years, was fired for being a good salesman (the first time they got rid of commissioned sales they fired their top twenty five percent for making too much money) and have had the opportunity to test drive a great number of MP3's, prior to 2002, then worked for Dell for a while, again with the opportunity to test drive mp3 players, and have owned several. I cannot stress this enough, for the money, the features, the sound quality, compatibility, limited proprietary issues this is the best product on the market imho.
I realize this review is all personal, but that's the point for these reviews. If you're interested in tech specs go to creative's web site. I find all the specs in the world don't compare to a test drive. Ohm impedance for instance never looks like a good stat on an MP3. My opinion is that the x-fi series is incredibly faithful in sound reproduction and for the consumer is a great value.
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