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Timesaver Review - Creative Zen X-Fi Wireless LAN media player

Quick Review of Creative Zen X-Fi Wireless LAN media player

08 October 2008


A feature-packed and versatile top of the range media player.

Plays:
MP3, WMA (DRM 10), WAV, AAC (M4A) Audible formats
WMV9, MPEG4, DivX, XviD Video file formats;
JPEG photo file format;

USB rechargeable internal battery.



Versatile, feature-packed, and advanced.

LITREV Rating 4/5

Zen X-Fi with earphones


The Creative Zen X-Fi Media Player is an advanced, powerful and lightweight media player, but let down by a general lack of attention to detail. The media management software could be improved too.

It is available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB models and the selling price is around £80-£190.

It plays MP3s and displays video and photos and the 16GB and 32GB models have wireless LAN connectivity built in.

The player has an excellent sound, and plays radio as well as MP3s.

The display is excellent and the buttons are an odd arrangement of 13 round buttons that look cool but which are a fiddly to use.

File transfer can be a bit difficult and slow but file navigation on the player is extremely quick, easy and flexible.

NAVIGATION

Buttons


Navigation is done by a nine-button arrangement, with an additional four corner buttons which makes things not very straightforward.

The nine central buttons are not labelled. They are closely packed and difficult to keep clean - a grime magnet.

File Navigation


Music navigation is done by MP3 tags – artists, albums, tracks, genres. It’s also possible to bookmark tracks (up to 10).


Playlists and recordings also have their own navigation menus.

It would be good if music could be explored by folder names as is the case for video files and photos.

DISPLAY


The 2.5-inch screen is a selling point.

Movies come out particularly well - the player's movie conversion software produces films of an ideal size for the screen.

SOUND


The sound quality is fantastic – along with a fairly full range of sound controls, there is the added feature of the X-Fi 'Crystal' technology which gives the player its name.

In truth this sounds a little like a graphic equalizer with the treble set pretty high.

PLAYBACK


During playback, fast forwarding and rewinding happens at a speed which accelerates very quickly.

In-track scanning is great for long podcasts and Audible audiobooks.


DATA TRANSFER and SOFTWARE


The software provided is Creative Centrale which is a disappointment. The software converts videos to the required format, but does so very slowly. It allows slideshows and playlists to be created, but file transfer is very slow.

Creative Central is also used to serve the media folders so they can be accessed on the wireless LAN.

BATTERY


Battery life could be better. A full charge gave about 13-18 hours music playback. It takes about 2 hours for a full charge.

OTHER FEATURES & CONCLUSION

Wireless LAN

The wireless LAN is straightforward enough to use and a selling point. The Centrale software needs to be running and enabled to act as a media server first.

Once that's sorted, the player's Online menu allows you to connect in a few simple steps and to have access to your photos, videos and music.

The Zen X-Fi's visual attractiveness is undermined by the cheap plastic, lightweight feel, and the badly designed buttons.

This is a very good player, but not great enough to shout about.

Notes

CREATIVE ZEN X-Fi 16 GB
Reviewed using Windows XP SP2
CREATIVE CENTRALE Version 1.00.01
FIRMWARE VERSION 1.03.01

Player weighs 43g

 
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