Creative Zen Microphoto 8gb Review

By: John Applin

This device was recommended to me by a friend, this is an ipod like device that can store up to 8gb of mp3's as well as photos.

Creative have been manufacturing alternatives to Apple ipods for a while now and this model, the Creative Zen Microphoto, is sold to directly compete with the Apple ipod photo (although the ipod photo comes with a 60gb hard drive).

On first appearances the Zen Microphoto feels well built and sturdy, most of Creative's lineup seem to be built to a high standard which is what you'd expect from any device which costs a significant amount of money. One thing that usually lets devices like this down is the quality of the earphones. A lot of thought usually goes into the device and the bundled earphones seem like they were thought of at the last minute. This isn’t the case with the Creative Zen Microphoto however, the earphones feel quality, fit comfortably in the ear, and actually produce a decent sound. One thing that would have been a nice feature is in-line volume controls for volume and track navigation. As it stands you have to root around in your pocket, fish out the Zen, then activate the controls before you can perform any of these tasks, which would become annoying if you were riding a bike or jogging while listening to your music.

Since you have to use the main controls on the Zen you'd expect them to be easy to use, for some reason though Creative have opted for a control panel which consists of 4 touch buttons and a touch slider. You have to tap the buttons or the slider in order to activate the device, then use the slider to navigate through the track listings and menus. Once into the menu function it is self explanatory and easy to navigate, with a nice bright display which is clear and easy to read. What I found in my experience was that the slider was oversensitive and the 4 touch buttons were undersensitive, this proved a little infuriating. One thing I did notice is that there was no stop button, only play and pause. What I think would have been a better option would have been to use simple click buttons for the controls and a classic volume wheel instead of a slider. I can see what creative have tried to do in choosing the buttons and the slider that they have, in trying to keep the lines and style of the device simple, but in doing so have made the zen more difficult to use and ultimately lets the device down.

An aspect that I think Creative needs to seriously look at is when you switch to viewing photos on the zen, the music stops. Quite why this happens I'm not sure but I think this is something that will frustrate a lot of people.

When switching on the Creative Zen Microphoto the edge around front face of the device lights up to compliment the buttons and really does look good.

Creative's choice of navigation buttons for the Zen become evident when switched on as the whole package has a quite a stylish look when illuminated.

The Zen Microphoto comes with a USB lead to connect to a PC, this allows for the easy transfer of music and photos onto the Zen as well as being able to use the Zen as a portable USB storage device for other files which is quite handy. The 8gb hard drive size means there should be sufficient space for most people to carry around their entire music collection.

Conclusion

Good Points Stylish, easy menu navigation, good sound quality, excellent build quality, 8gb hard drive

Bad Points No in line volume control or navigation, poor navigation controls, inability to view photos while listening to music.

John's Reviews rating: 6/10


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