Update on 01/12/2009: Replaced with higher resolution photos
The touchscreen was one of the main feature of the Apple iPod Touch and iPhone. Zen fans like us have been looking forward to the see the first touch screen Zen mp3 player from Creative.
The brand new Zen X-Fi2 is not exactly an refreshed version of the Zen X-Fi, but with its 3" touch screen and adjustable X-Fi sound enhancement. Will this be enough, for the Apple iPod Touch fans to switch to Creative Zen MP3 players line of product?
8GB / 16GB / 32GB
102mm x 57mm x 11.6mm
3.0" TFT Touch Screen LCD, 262k colors, 400 x 240 pixels resolution
Up to 25hrs2 of audio playback
Up to 5hrs2 of video playback
X-Fi™ Audio Enhancement:
Adjustable Crystalizer / Expand effects
Video / Audio Out:
PAL / NTSC (via A/V cable sold separately)
microSD memory card support
Displays RSS content feeds offline (Sync via PC/Laptop connected to the internet)
Via PC-USB or ZEN USB Power Adapter (sold separately)
Video Playback Formats:
WMV9, MPEG4-SP3, DivX3 4/5 and XviD3
Up to 640 x 480 video size
Audio Playback Formats:
MP3, WMA (DRM9), WAV (IMA-ADPCM) Audible4, AAC4, FLAC4.
Photo Formats Supported:
JPEG, BMP (TIFF, GIF, PNG to be converted with bundled software)5
Built-in Li-ion Battery
Built-in FM Radio with 32 preset stations
Clock, Alarm, Calendar, Task, Contacts
Only for MP3 and WMA files
Voice Recording format:
IMA-ADPCM (*.wav) (Built in MIC)
USB 2.0 recommended
Like many players today, the X-Fi2 comes with the basics: USB cable, EP-630 Headphones, Zen X-Fi2 No install disk as the software is already pre-installed in the Zen X-Fi2 itself, and there's a quick start guide. However, as for the headphones there was a downgrade from the EP-830 to EP-630 which comes your Zen X-Fi. But still good enough for us :)
Yes, Creative is still giving away free headphones with each Zen mp3 players you buy. This has become a tradition. The EP-630s is a Canal Noise Isolation Earphones which will work fine for the most of us.
Creative also has released some official accessories including a screen protector, silicon case, leather case, and AV cable (to output your content onto your widescreen TV). These are quite basic so they should cover your needs.
Design / Build Quality
The Zens has a good reputation as a very sturdy mp3 player which is hard to crack. My Zen X-Fi2 has slip through my fingers for a few times and it is still working, as good as new. With a chrome rim and a metallic-looking backing, Creative has done a good job making it look a little bit more durable than just a plastic toy. However, the looks are a bit deceiving since no metal is actually found on any of the exterior parts –all of which are some version of strengthen plastic.
The screen, a 3-inch (400 x 240) LCD is certainly clear and colourful enough to do justice to video and photo content, being just about big enough to enjoy feature-length clips on the move.
Overall, it is great looking with rich and accurate colors.
The Zen X-Fi2 still employs the same Zen patented IU which we are very used to it and always like the Zen UI since it’s an easy “plug and play” interface. If you have a Zen mp3 player, you will be very used to it. But just that there are more menu options for the additional features.
Buttons? What buttons? The Zen X-Fi2 has no buttons. You just use your fingers to select the options you want by just touching on the screen. It’s pretty easy to use and you will get the hang of it in no thing. However, we do find that the touch screen was no quite responsive or sensitive. Sometimes, we need to press a little bit harder for the options to be activated. While reviewing, the firmware version was 01.02.03. We would definately love to see some improvement here so as to improve our touch screen experience.
The Zen X-Fi2 is an mass storage device unlike the older Zen X-Fi which is a MTP device. The Zen X-Fi2 is just like a USB thumbdrive. Anyone can just drag and drop their media into this Zen. Linux and Mac are not officially supported, but they will work if the right 3rd party software are installed. Otherwise any media player will do the transferring of your content to your player: Windows Media Player, Creative Centrale, Winamp, Napster, etc.
Micro SD Memory
The Zen X-Fi2 now supports the Micro SD card instead of the larger SD card slot which was found on the Zen X-Fi. There is an improvement in the integration with the main memory and you can really call it an expansion slot! While you still can access media from the card, you can view the photos, play the songs, remove file, or look up artists- all of which are available when playing from the internal memory.
There is an 'import' feature too. Which you can transfer all you media from your Micro SD card to your Zen X-Fi2 in a breeze. But we find the 'scanning disk' and rebuilding of the library taking us a lot of time to recognize the media that is in the Micro SD card.
There is no Wi-Fi or wireless connection in Zen X-Fi2.
The RSS synchronizer is for you to sync and download RSS feeds from your favourite websites and read them offline on your Zen X-Fi2. However you will need to transfer the feeds via the USB cable.
Nothing has changed from the previous Zen players on the photo viewing side. You can easily browse photos in folders, lists, and thumbnails. You are also able to create and view slide shows to music.
Radio reception is ok. The autoscan feature is great, and will help you to pick up all the available radio stations in the vicinity. If not, you can always fall back to the 'manual' mode. This means setting the radio channels by yourself.
Voice recording is the same as what is found on the Zen; files are saved as WAV files. You can use this function during lecture to help you recall.
Not much changes to this feature. Using the Creative’s media player you can sync your contacts, calendar, and to-do list with Outlook or Windows Contacts.
A decent battery life allows for around 20 hours of audio playback and just over 4 hours for video, and it’s fairly slim and light weighing in at 75g. The battery life seems quite reasonable to me as it needs power for the 3" LED screen and X-Fi enhancement.
Audio Playlists / Bookmarks
The playlist feature on the Zen X-Fi2 is the same as what you would find on most of the Zen mp3 players.
Bookmark is also one of my favourite feature which I used it very often. Many people would agree on this. You can save up to ten bookmarks.
The X-Fi is awesome. I tried using it with the ep-630 earphone and is sound perfect! You can really hear the highs and lows of your music. When I was listening to Beyonce's Halo, I would almost swear that she was just singing it beside me :)
Adjustable X-Fi Sound Enhancement
X-Fi is Creative’s proprietary sound enhancing technology that redefines and restores the detail and expands your audio to surround sound with X-Fi Crystalizer and X-Fi CMSS-3D. Only now, its better, you can adjust the level of the 'Crystalizer' and 'Expand' that you want. At first, I tried out 100% Crystalizer and 100% Expand on my Zen X-Fi2 but I found that some of the high vocal songs were too sharp for my ears. So I reduced the Crystalizer to 50% and that suits me.
So its good that Creative has made the X-Fi Enhancement adjustable to everyone's taste and feel.
If you noticed, the built-in speaker is just a small slot in front of the player, With such a small size, it does sound very good.
Compared to the Zen X-Fi, the build quality is improved, and the X-Fi feature works pretty well without really putting a drain on your battery. The adjustable X-Fi sound enhancement has just made it more user friendly.
The touch screen is something new for Creative and they have been continuously bringing on new and improved firmware to help improve on the touch screen experience. The latest firmware 1.10.04
* Automatically rotates photos when you turn your player sideways.
* Adds a Sudoku game under the Applications menu .
* Updates your player with new colorful themes.
* Enhances the touch screen's responsiveness.
* Ensures a "press and hold" behaviour for the Power button when you turn
on/off your player.
Make sure you update your firmware ;)
One advantage touchscreen adoption does bring is a larger display, and the 3-inch (400 x 240) LCD is certainly clear and colourful enough to do justice to video and photo content, being just about big enough to enjoy feature-length clips on the move.
File support is also very good here and the X-Fi 2 is able to handle a range of conventional formats as well as less common FLAC and AAC audio. Yes, Creative is Zen X-Fi2 is supporting the FLAC audio.
The bottom line is the Zen X-Fi2 is an improvement over the Zen X-Fi. I like it, especially the adjustable X-Fi and touch screen, I can still recommend the Zen X-Fi2, it’s really value for money.