Zen Micro mp3 Player Review

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Carl Miller, Nov 19, 2004.

  1. Carl Miller

    Carl Miller Screenwriter

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    Took delivery on the Zen Micro on Monday and wanted to offer a brief review after a weeks use along my daily commute.

    A few comparisons to the iPod Mini are necessary just for a point of reference...I'm a fan of the mini. I have one, it works perfectly, but my wife has pretty much claimed it as her own.

    I decided to give the Zen Micro a go based on the early buzz on the product, the extra Gig (it's a 5BG player) compared to the 4BG iPod Mini, user replacable battery and its FM receiver.

    The FM reception is fair which I guess is to be expected. However I was a bit surprised to get spotty reception from the radio stations with the most powerful signals in my area such as Z100 and KROQ. The uneven reception is only occassional, but a little disappointing nonetheless because it occurs in areas where my old Sony Walkman had no trouble picking up a strong signal.

    Another downside, at least in my opinion, is the Zen Micro's touch pad control. It takes some getting used to if you are, like me, used to getting some tactile response to the buttons you push on various controls. I read about this in the early reviews for the Zen Micro, but kind of shrugged it off. If you're thinking of shrugging this off, don't, because it does matter if you like tactile response. Changing the default settings to "high" made the touch pad more controllable, but it doesn't come close to the wheel of the iPod Mini in terms of ease of use and ultimately control of the player.

    One other downside I noticed almost immediately is that the Zen Micro seems to have trouble with the playback of spoken words. I ripped a Lewis Black comedy CD for example, and the player seems to slow the speed of the playback down for some reason. The same thing occurred, according to my wife, when playing something she downloaded from audible.com. Creative is aware of the issue according to their response to my e-mail, and working on a firmware solution. Kudos go out to them for a speedy response, and and an honest response as well. Not a huge deal for me as my use of the player is mainly for music and radio, but still worth noting.

    The Zen Micro does have some big upsides though. The extra Gig gives 20% more capacity compared to the iPod Mini which is good if you're not interested in a 20 or 40 gig player.

    It's a bit shorter than the mini and fits nicely in a dress shirt pocket, and design-wise is more comfortable in the hand as well. It's well built, with a solid casing and probably most importantly, has a user replacable battery.

    The battery, which Creative says will go 12 hours between recharging, went about 10 hours for me. I think this is pretty good for the initial charge, but I'm hoping to see the full 12 hours next.

    My unit shipped with an extra battery, but this is a limited edition package according to the box, so eventually an extra battery will run about $40.

    I don't care much about the appearance of an mp3 player, so the "cool factor" of the Zen Micro or the iPod Mini means nothing to me. I'm not going to get into that, other than saying the Zen Micro gives you 10 color choices, however the color variety is only on the face of the unit..The case is white, it seems, on all of them. The Zen Micro has a decent looking blue backlight as well, but otherwise, it looks like an mp3 player just like the iPod Mini...nuff' said.

    The buds that came with the unit were surprisingly good, though I'm still going to go out tomorrow and buy a better set (any recommendations?), but they're better than I expected out of a stock set of headphones.

    The Zen Micro supports mp3, WAV and WMA and also has some additional features I haven't really seriously explored yet. It can record the FM broadcast you're listening to, has a voice recorder, and offers listening options such as random playback, song of the day, album of the day etc.

    Overall, if you're looking for an alternative to the iPod Mini, for whatever reason, the Zen Micro seems a solid choice and a good value.
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Consider Sennheiser MX500s, Koss PortaPros and just about anything from Grado.
     
  3. Carl Miller

    Carl Miller Screenwriter

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    Thanks Angelo! The PortaPros sounded a little muffled and bassy to me, so I ended up with Sennhesier PX100.

    They sound excellent, and fold up which is good for LIRR commuting. One of these days I'm going to get a set of Grados, but probably something for home use.
     
  4. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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    I'm considering an MP3 player for use during overseas traveling; right now, I'm leaning towards a Creative Zen Micro. Can someone recommend some good sites (besides Creative's own forums) for reviews and user feedback?
     
  5. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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  6. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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    Chris:

    Thanks for the CNET reminder. Both the Zen Touch and Zen Micro are in the top five of their respective categories (as Editor's Picks go), so the decision may come down to personal preference and price. User feedback isn't particularly helpful though.

    Stopped by CompUSA yesterday to check on their demo units; the only Creative models on-hand were the Jukebox Zen NX and Zen Micro. Neither had any data loaded nor headphones attached. [​IMG] I'll need to check elsewhere for a Zen Touch demo.

    Looks like I'm heading back to the Creative forums....
     
  7. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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    Carl, how are you liking that player.
    I am probably gonna pull the plug on one this week.
    Should I?
     

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