Creative Zen Portable Media Center review
The Zen successfully brings Portable Media Center to life.
Review Date: 20 Sep 2004
Reviewed By: Ross Burridge
Price when reviewed: (£370 inc VAT); Delivery £5 (£6 inc VAT)
The finished Zen is ergonomically the same as the prototype, with its smart black gloss finish and comfortable gaming console-type controls. The menu system is accessed rom the left-hand side, the transport controls from the right, and four bookmark buttons at the top. At 340g you won't notice it in your bag, although the dimensions make it slightly unwieldy in a jacket or trouser pocket.
The 3.8in screen is bright and pleasantly neutral in colour. Vertical viewing angles are a touch narrow, but horizontal angles are just good enough, without fellow passengers being able to see what you're watching. Battery life was impressive, lasting for an amazing ten hours of movie-watching and 15 hours for music-only playback. It's also removable.
There are a couple of niggles though. We'd like a neater way of plugging in both power and USB cables, and also missed some sort of cradle: although it's reasonably easy to hold comfortably when sat in a chair or at a desk, there's no way of standing it up on its side for viewing hands-free. This seriously dents its appeal for plane or train use. Its gaming-console looks mean that it won't provoke too much attention from fellow passengers, though, welcome or otherwise. Also bear in mind you'll need WMP10, Windows XP, or, ideally, MCE to make the most of it.
These minor complaints aside, the Zen is a good first stab at bringing Portable Media Center to life. And, compared to some MP3 player prices, it's a steal.
Author: Ross Burridge
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