My Creative Zen xtra arrived yesterday and as with all electronic things nowadays I had to wait 4 hours for the battery to fully charge. By then it was bedtime so I only got the chance to have a quick listen to some of the classical tunes before going to bed. However I’ve had a chance to use it a bit today and here are my thoughts.
My first thought is wow, its big. Although billed as pocket sized, it would need a big pocket to go in, but it does come with a decent looking belt clip. It is about the sizee of an old fashioned tape base walkman, but it has to be this size because of the 2.5″ disk that is inside it. The new zen touch’s that are out are miniscule in proportion to this, but they don’t look like you are getting your moneys worth when you see it and go “is that it?” and they are also about $50 more. Incidentally I purchased mine from J&R music via amazon as that was the cheapest price I could find.
This afternoon I loaded all my music (about 18gb worth) onto the hard disk and it probably took about 25-30 minutes to load. Thats just under 2500 songs and its not even half full. The reason I went for the bigger size is due to future expansion and also the player can also be used as an external hard disk. However, if you go down this route you will definitely need to keep it plugged into the mains as by the time the files had been transferred across the low battery signal came on and shortly after it tried to shut itself down (but locked up so I then had to go and find a paper clip to reset it. I couldn’t find one so I stripped back the plastic on the twisty tie that was wrapped around the power supply cable to poke through the reset hole. I then had to plug the power lead back in to continue using it whilst it charged. The reason I didn’t have it plugged in is because there were no spare power sockets near the computer so the cable had to reach across the floor which I didn’t really want to do.
The player comes with a neat leather carry case with access to all the buttons that you would need *whilst on the go*. However if you want to plug it into the mains you have to undo the leather case as the power socket plugs in right underneath the top clasp which seems a bit of a design fault.
The firmware was old (as can be expected) but the online registration process prompted me to download the latest firmware and application updates – all 60MB of it. Oh how nice to have a fast net connection as this took less than 2 minutes.
The installation took a bit longer but the firmware upgrade went through smoothly. Apparently the firmware is only for audible.com compatability but as I have some files from them that will be handy.
The ear plugs that come with the system are ok – a nice fit and when you listen to the sample tunes that come with it, the sound is very good and the difference to the tunes when the EAX (special effects) is used is really quite amazing. It makes quite a difference to classical piano/guitar music but listening to rock music I have found it sounds better with the EAX turned off.
I’ve not really played too much with the pc software – why is it that every music gadget needs its own management software? There’s itunes, musicmatch, sony’s awful sonicstage product and now creatives music offering. Personally I just like to organise my mp3s in subfolders by artist and then album! However the mp3’s really do need their tags changing as that is one of the ways that music can be selected on the player – and a lot of mine don’t have tags as I have found out. What will be interesting is the quick synch option – apparently I can synchronise just the changes from the pc to the player (and back) so we’ll see what happens when I change the tags. (You can’t synch the provided classical tracks to the computer for some reason which is a shame as they are quite nice – so I’ve kept them on the player).
I’m aware of a third party music management for the player called notmad that apparently provides better integration and management. I’ll see how the included software goes first before trying this.