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Creative Labs ZEN portable mp3 player... opinions?

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6 replies to this topic

#1 of 7 Scott Wong

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Posted April 01 2003 - 05:45 PM

Does anyone here own this player? I'd like some feedback from those that do... or anyone else who knows anything about this player. I'm currently looking at getting this one next week. It's a 20GB model. It's about the same size as an iPod but not quite as pricey ($289 at Best Buy) And it uses a USB connection rather than IEEE394.

I've also seen their NOMAD3 line of players offers a 40GB model but it's a bit larger.

How is the sound quality on either of these models? Is it easy to use?

I'd appreciate any feedback.


#2 of 7 Don P

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Posted April 02 2003 - 01:28 AM

I've had one for a couple of weeks now and I like it. Sound quality is good given that it is playing compressed audio and it is pretty easy to use. The buttons are a little difficult if you can't see them as the feel is the same on both sides.

The unit is a decent size although bigger than an iPod but still managable. I tend to put in the inside of my coat pocket. Bundled headphones aren't great but they are functional and I've used them as backups.

If you are considering this then check out the following sites: http://www.nomadness.net for good information about the unit. Also the bundled software is not great so I have exclusively used NotMad Explorer from Red Chair Software: http://www.redchairsoftware.com Great piece of software.

My main decision for this over the iPod was price and what I perceived to be better PC compatibility and functionality. I travel alot and have limited space on my laptop so I use my nomad to store large files or archives.

Battery life is decent and if you turn it off and connect it to the USB port it will charge (slowly), I have left it on and connected to the USB port and the batteries will drain.

Let me know if you have other questions and I'll do my best to answer.

#3 of 7 Scott Wong

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Posted April 02 2003 - 02:02 AM


What is the downfall of the software that comes packaged with the Zen (or other creative labs players?) Even though I don't yet have the player, is there any harm in me downloading that software?

In your opinion, how does the Zen compare to the Nomad? The 40GB Nomad intrigues me as far as having that *much* space in the palm of my hand. I know it's larger as far as size goes but still comparable to what most portable CD players look like nowadays.

I can honestly say I'm not even entertaining the thought of getting an iPod. Best Buy wants $500 plus tax for the 20GB iPod. Nope. I'm not gonna do that. I don't care how intuitive the interface or cool things you can do with it. I just want an mp3 player.


#4 of 7 Don P

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Posted April 02 2003 - 09:11 AM

My thoughts exactly on the iPod.

Should be no harm in installing the software although I don't think you can do anything with it unless you have a Nomad connected. As for the downfall of the software I felt that it was a resource hog and I didn't like having multiple interfaces for dealing with Data Files and Music, which was important to me. NotMad was not resource intensive, real easy to use (completely explorer driven) and gave me a single interface. Although I actually use my MP3 Software (Media Center from J River) to load MP3s onto the Zen.

I think the Zen stacks up well, it has some drawbacks that you may or may not care about beside the drive size (although some people have put 60GB drives in theirs, that is not a risk I want to take with the Zen at this time.) The following are the feature differences/drawbacks of the Zen compared to the JB3 along with my opinion.[list=1][*]Shorter battery life (NJB3 has 2 user replaceable battery option for 11 hrs 1 battery or 22 with both - 2nd is a cost option) - I've gotten 12-14 hours with my Zen and that is fine for me.[*]Non-user replaceable battery - At this time it is not possible to replace the Zen battery. Creative has been ambiguous but claims they will replace it if needed. I have faith in Creative (more likely 3rd party) or obsolescence to deal with this at the time I need. I did get a replacement warranty though just in case.[*]No line outs (NJB3 does have them) - My opinion is that MP3/WMA on my home stereo sounds bad so headphone out is fine. Although the NotMad software allows me to play MP3s on my Zen through my computer.[*]No IR interface - Not a need I expect to encounter.[*]No line-in (NJB3 has Analog/Optical Line-In) - Interesting but I don't use it to record, although I think there is a remote available that lets you record (and provides FM Radio.)[/list=1]
In the Zen's favor for me was the form factor, USB 2.0 support as I don't have firewire and cost. None of the additional features of the JB3 or the 40GB drive were worth sacrificing form-factor or paying more.

Hope this answers some of your questions, I went through the same thought process.

#5 of 7 Angelo.M



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Posted April 03 2003 - 07:49 AM

One word: iPod.

#6 of 7 Scott Wong

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Posted April 03 2003 - 08:03 AM

I think I'm gonna end up going wiht the NOMAD JB3 40GB player. The batteries last longer. I believe they're replaceable. And extra 20GB of space seems very appealing. It's an extra $75 - $100 but this seems to be worth it for me.


I have heard about the extra warranty for the Zen player. This doesn't seem right to me.


#7 of 7 Paul McElligott

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Posted April 04 2003 - 07:41 AM

FYI: I believe there is a Firewire version of the Zen that is about $50 more.
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