19 Jul 2008

Creative Zen X-Fi Impressions

taken from http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/musicplay/0,39050467,43741600p-1,00.htmTo me, Creative has always been on the forefront of the mp3 player market in terms of features. This time is no different. Fresh from its recently successful and feature-packed Zen mp3 player, Creative has managed to pack even more features into the Zen X-Fi. As its name suggests, integrated X-Fi technology powers this music and video player. Additionally, it is WiFi enabled, allowing you to sync your music wirelessly and even instant message your friends with the built-in Yahoo and MSN messenger.

Other features include:
- available in 8GB (w/o WiFi), 16GB and 32GB
- bundled premium in-ear earphones (EP-830)
- SD card slot
- radio
- MP3, WMA, AAC (.m4a), WAV (ADPCM), Audible 4, MJPEG, WMV9, MPED4-SP, DivX 4/5 and XviD support
- organiser

Read Manfred's view on the Zen X-Fi

So is it any good?

As some of my friends know, I am quite a huge fan of Creative's X-Fi technology. Yes, it might be just a glorified upscaler, but its a GREAT upscaler. I even own a Xmod. So it was with great anticipation that I put on the Creative Aurvana DJ headphones and pressed play...... Well, it was simply underwhelming. To be sure, I went to the X-Fi settings and switched them on and off while listening out for any difference. Not much changed, so I concluded that the X-Fi technology in it isn't that good. However, the music sounded like it was coming out of a $30 to $50 pair of headphones instead of this pair of $169 Aurvana DJ. Was there something wrong with my ears? Perhaps I was too used to the X-Fied music I listen to regularly at home? Just 3 steps away was a demo station set up with a Zen player, a set of 2.0 speakers, and Xmod. Woooaaaah! That pair of 10cm high speakers instantly produced sounds that felt powerful and full of flavour! So I wasn't wrong. X-Fi technology is still going strong, but the Zen X-Fi simply doesn't deserve to carry its name.

Regarding its other main new feature, WiFi, I think it is either a) being under-utilised, or b) an unecessary feature. For option A, it could have an integrated web browser to further sweeten the deal. For option B, I think these features are necessary as this is supposed to be a MUSIC/VIDEO player, why use it as an instant messenger? And is there really a need to wirelessly sync? A simple USB would suffice. However you view it though, points should be given to Creative for trying to shake things up a little in the mp3 player market.

Maybe I was having hearing problems that day. Maybe they were actually really great! I don't know for sure. But these are just my first impressions and I could have been harbouring too much expectations for it. I'd advise you to go down and take a listen (with the rest of your own audio gear) to decide for yourself before you make any mp3 player purchase.

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