Zen X - Fi Review! ~ Creative Labs Zen MP3 Players Sound Blaster Card
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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Zen X - Fi Review!

Zen X - Fi Review!
I wanted to crank this out as it's been way to overdue >_>;. Also i'll post some hi-res pics too soon.
Anyways enjoy ;p

The Zen X-Fi is an Creative flash memory based mp3 player I've beenkeeping my eye on for some time. There were some features I thoughtwould be removed from the oh so glorious Zen Vision:M. But fear notmost stuff has not been removed if anything they have added more tothis puppy. The only feature that's not there anymore that came in thebox with the ZVM is the AV adapter to view stuff on your TV. Though Ishould not compare a ZVM to a Zen X-Fi. These are the only two mp3players I've had by creative. So without further ado...ON TO THE REVIEW!

Note: At the time of this writing only the 16GB and the 32GB versionsof the Zen X-Fi have wi-fi capabilities. I have the 32GB which is whatI shall be reviewing here.


On the Zen X-Fi you can now import pictures from your camera that usesan SD memory card straight to your Zen X-Fi! You can set your newlydownloaded pictures as your background with some nice effects you canadd to it.

But why do this at all when you can do this on your home PC?

Well for one let's say you're at an convention and you only have a 1GBor 2GB card. Where oh where can I store a 1/2GB worth of picturessomewhere without having to go back to my hotel/home? OH! Thanks ZenX-Fi for being a convienient storage place for me! There are probablysome other uses that this could be great for but that's one of the fewI can think of. When the pictures are transferred over no conversionsare made as it goes over. It goes over as is and gives you a some nicedetailed info about your shot like ISO speed and Flash fired and such.

How does it look? The pictures are sharp and very vibrant I have tosay. Some pictures I thought that came out looking extremly blurry onmy camera wasn't all that bad on my Zen X-Fi. If anything it looked alot better!

Compatible photo formats: JPEG (BMP/ GIF / PNG / TIFF)5

Ahh, the shining gem of the Zen X-Fi. What is there to say about themusic on this device? It has excellent sound quality with a variety ofoptions to tweak to please an audiophile's ears. The sound is crisp,the noise cancelling earphones it comes packaged with is magnificent(and these aren't some -meh- ones either). There is an equalizer, alongwith smart volume (where when music is supposed to get louder at acertain point it stays the same volume no matter what), bass boost, abuilt in speaker and microphone, FM Radio, restrict volume (so youwon't blast your ear drums out by accident).

What about this X-Fi I keep throwing around this interview? Is it justa fancy shmancy code name to get me to buy it? No. It is a function onthe Zen that emulates the superb quality of the Creative X-Fi PCI soundcards. It has 2 settings on it; the crystalizer and the expander. Thecrystalizer restores lost sound when conversions happen bringing backan almost near perfect stuido recording sound. The expander (given themusic track was meant to be) gives it a complete 3D sound experience.You may not hear it on your library of old songs (unless they aredigitally remastered of some sort). Though these features do bring downthe battery life of the Zen X-Fi they are still worth trying out foryourself and hearing the difference.

Compatible music formats: MP3, WMA, Non-protected AAC4 (.m4a) from iTunes® Plus, WAV (IMA ADPCM), Audible 4

Many of you have heard about it's new wi-fi cababilities. This givesyou access to yahoo messenger and MSN messenger and Zen X-Fi messnger.So you can talk to all of your friends on the go at any available wi-fihotspot you can find. Though typing on it feels very limited on the 9button's it has (which I'll talk about a little later). It's fun for ashort time but nothing to mind blasting.

Now the another new addition to the zen x-fi is that it can pick upmedia servers. Which has been quite the rage lately what with the PS3and the 360 being on top of this. Just for those who haven't heard of amedia server:

A media server is a program which streams media from your PC to a device.

In this particular case it can stream and/or put media on your ZenX-Fi straight from your PC without the need of an USB cable. Whether itbe music, pictures, or video's (though some videos will need to beconverted to view on the Zen X-Fi). This can only be done on your ownhome wireless network.

Wifi Specs: IEEE 802.11 b/g with WEP, WPA-PSK, or WPA2-PSK security

Watching videos on this is crisp and clean (depending on if the videodownloaded was in hi-def in the first place). I have to say that duringthe conversion process there was no loss of data. No out of sync parts.Just screen size conversion and it ran as smooth as it would of ran onmy PC.

Just in case you do ask this question. Yes seeing subbed anime on it ispretty awesome and you can read the text given it's a tiny screen.

But, there's something Creative could have implemented in this. Nay,should have! The zen once again does not have continous playback forvideos. It does for your music of course! But, it would have beenreally great addition. Is there anything else you can do in particularwith the video? Not really, no. Just rewind, fast forward, pause, play,seek to, fit to screen, full size, and volume adjustion.

Compatible Video Formats: MJPEG, WMV9, MPEG4-SP3, DivX3 4/5 and XviD3

Some other features make a come back. Like Date & Time, Organizer,Calendar, Tasks, Contacts, Equalizer, using your pics as yourbackground image, etc. Those options and shortcut buttons that youwanted to make are all still there. And haven't been changed what soever.

DJ makes a come back along as with the 5 star rating of songs you likeand dislike on your Zen X-Fi. With DJ (if you're not too familiar withthis) it can generate a playlist of songs that you've listened tonumerous times. So if you have a song that you've literally listened to50+ times more than any other song I can guarantee you it will bethere. You can also view the play count of any song by viewing thedetails of it. There is also one for least listened to songs. Maybe youuploaded an album and forgot you had it on there. It can also do it byhighly rated, not yet rated, random play all, and album of the day.


Okay enough talk about the insides! What about the outside?

Q: Does it feel as smexy as it looks? Is it lightweight? Is it really the size of a credit card?

A: Yes to all of that.

Q: What about those 9 buttons? What the hell is up with that! I only need 5! ....jerk!

A: Well if that's your attitude about it...then forget it! ::dies::

But seriously, there's a reason for the 4 extra buttons. In order tomake up for quick scrolling of the touch pad on the ZVM. They decidedto make "Quick Jump" buttons. The upper/bottom left buttons go to thetop or bottom of the list you are currently viewing. Where as theupper/bottom right buttons are partial jumps of about 9 spaces so youcan just skip over a chunk of stuff you know you don't need to see.

The Zen-XFi is definitely light weight and should really keep you fromdropping your Zen around the place. Given you are a clumsy person likeme (-_-).

-Battery Life
I'm somewhat dissapointed with the battery life as if I listen to it atwork (a good 3-4 hours) I go down a quarter of a bar. I'd think with anew flash memory based MP3 player it'd be able to save up a lot morejuice. Again this can be a factor on my part as I sometimes don't feelthe need to put on the hold button as it fully turns off the LCD screenand can save up some juice that way. Honestly though it's so thin andcompact that sometimes you won't really be hitting any buttons so Itend to forget to turn hold on. Unlike my ZVM a bump = pause of thesong. All in all, it does last a day and then some on the nextday...and mebbe a smidgen on the third. A few other things that drainsbatter life is the X-Fi features as mentioned before. Also the wirlessboth which could be turned off.

But when you can recharge this bad boy on any PC or Mac and you have aUSB cord with you do you really need to care about battery life?

-The flaws

Oh yes. I just can't say all good about this bad boy he has some short comings but nothing to harsh.

1. Memory Card intergration:
It cannot intergrate your SD card and the flash memory in a player intoone single play list. It's like switching to a different MP3 player tobe quite honest. You can play your songs and stuff from it but itdoesn't hold all the features it does when you are playing on theplayer itself.

2. The buttons:
As kick ass and sleek feeling as they are, they have their downsidestoo. You'd think by having 9 dials they'd be able to simulate thetyping of a cell phone.

Ex: Let's say you're on Yahoo with your Zen X-Fi and you're figuringout how to type only to find out you have to navigate to the actualletters you want. Yes it does have the (1ABC, 2DEF...) Convention of acell phone. But to actually navigate to those buttons and press theOK/Enter button to enter gets tedious and you can't type as fast as youwant to!

There is another mode to this which is a "bit" easier. It displays allthe letters/numbers as a Ring around the screen. And a second page ofthe Ring with accent's and symbols.

It would have been really nice if they just made it have a simple cellphone tap interface. It would of made the typing SO much easier!

Anyways back to the buttons. After awhile and I'm not sure if this ison my part as I did not get a silicone case for my Zen X-Fi. But afterawhile of having the Zen in your pockets. It get's dusty and the dusttravels in what seems to be through USB ports. And gets in under thescreen. Also the buttons start to become very unresponsive and actuallystart to do other actions that's close to that button. Like pressingenter wound up having skipped down to the edge of the page. Again as Isaid I'm quite the clumsy person so this can probably be on my part.

3. Maybe another on my part. The battery life felt way shorter thanwhat I was expecting with a new MP3 player. Even if I turn the wirelessoff and leave the X-Fi off and the crystalizer. I'm still going down aquarter of my battery life if I listen to it at work.

4. Ok I don't really have anything else I just like to end off evenly.


Overal I think it's an amazing MP3 player with great sound qualatiesthat idefinitely got me into the music and mood of the song as if Iwere there at the concert as the volume can get quite loud. Despitesome flaws here and there...I feel like something is missing from thisyet I cannot quite put my finger on it. It's definitely something theycould have worked on before the release of this. But if you're in themarket for an MP3 player definitely make this one of your top choicesfor it's superior sound quality and storage capabilities.

And for those of you who would want on a scale of 1-10


And some pics to show off the Zen ;p

zen zen zen zen zen zen zen zen zen zen

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Jimmyboy88 said...

nice! not bad for a first timer :)

Davin Peterson said...

One feature the ZVM has that the ZEN X-Fi doesn't is the FM Recorder. Creative stopped putting that feature on new mp3 players

Jimmyboy88 said...

thats right! if you have the older players like zen vision m or zen v plus you still have the fm recorder but not until you upgraded your firmware. in another words, if you upgraded your firmware this feature will be gone too :)

Anonymous said...

what do u do if it freezes on the shutting down mode???? and wont shut down!!!!!!!!

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