6 Sep 2006

Creative Zen V Plus Review

Ok, here's my first review. I hope you find it informative :)

My sis just received her 4GB Zen V Plus today (preordered it and got a $50 voucher which I'm probably gonna spend on i-Trigue speakers). She wasn't home, so I got to play with it for a while :P.

My first impressions: It's tiny and cute! For those of you who don't know, this is Creative's Nano-killer (like that will ever happen). It has FM radio, video and photo playback and line-in capability. It comes in 1GB, 2GB and 4GB capacities.

Features-wise, this player is packed. Video playback at 15fps and 128X96 resolution might not seem like much, but the screen is small anyway, so no complains here. Photos load a little slow though (slower than the videos). FM radio reception is relatively clear, but it can't receive Power 98FM from my room for some reason.

On the audio front, it's a pretty solid player. I've read some reviews that say Creative players generally give better bass, but lose to Apple in everything else. I can't help but agree. The bass is great, but everything else isn't really spectacular. Maybe it's just the lousy headphones they provided. Oh well, I won't know till I get something better to test it with.

There are 2 things that I really love about this player: The user-interface and Media Explorer software. My sis' old 1.5GB Muvo2 had a crappy software bundle and a firmware that had problems with Chinese font. The software here is much improved, with synchronization options and "ZenCast" subscription support. The whole Media Explorer interface reminds me of Windows Vista's welcome screen, which is definitely great. So far, I had no problem transferring 1.5GB of music and some videos. Oh, and speaking of which, the bundled software automatically converts your video into a format appropriate for the player (128X96 pixels, 15fps). The "organic” menu is truly a joy to use. Similar to the iPod Nano's (since they copied Creative's idea), I find it simple to navigate and the contextual menu is pretty useful for accessing options that are not displayed.

Now for the complaints. Unless you have really small fingers, you would find the tiny joystick hard to use. Other reviewers criticize about the cheap feel of the joystick, but I think it’s sturdy, NOT cheap. Moreover, this system makes it hard to scroll thru all your songs (as compared to Zen Vision: M's vertical scroll). Although they claim to support avi, divx and mp4 formats, I had problems converting my anime videos (which were mostly avi, divx and mkv) to be stored into the player. There might be something wrong with my codec though. Anyone who has a solution to this please let me know by posting a comment!

Overall, despite its shortcomings, the Creative Zen V Plus is a small, cute, value for money player that seems to be able to do almost everything, albeit with some minor support problems.

Score: 4/5 (I would have given Apple's Nano a 4/5 too FYI)

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