The Creative Zen Mozaic offers great bang for your buck as far as MP3 players go: get super sound quality, a boatload of features, and a cool interface--all wrapped in a funky design at an ultralow price.
We're pleased to see that Creative included the full array of controls found on the Zen, although the fact that they are set so close together will prove challenging for those with larger fingers (the fact that the buttons are raised helps some, though).
Straight-up: we think the Zen Mozaic is super cute, but that doesn't mean it's just for girls. The mosaic tile design on the front gives it an arty look that anyone tired of ho-hum electronics can appreciate. On that same tip, however, we can see how those who prefer sleek understatement might find the pattern off-putting.
The interface and plethora of visual display options continue to set the Zen line apart. As per usual, Creative includes various themes for interface customization, and you can set any image on the player as wallpaper. The photo-viewing experience is great: the thumbnails magnify as you scroll through them, and once you select a photo, you are given various options including zoom and rotate.
Unfortunately, there's no dedicated volume rocker, but there is a combined power and hold switch on the left spine. The Mozaic also boasts plenty of volume to drive a full-size set of 'phones--we only had it up to about a third with some noise-isolating buds.
The bottom of the player houses the headphone jack and a standard mini USB port. Getting content onto the Zen Mozaic is a mostly simple task (except when it comes to video, all of which must be transcoded before transfer). If you're already running Windows Media Player or Rhapsody, you don't even need to install any software to start syncing content to the player--in fact, you can even use drag-and-drop if you prefer.
The Zen Mozaic is a uniquely-designed device with Creative's signature sound quality and feature offerings. The Mozaic is a bit larger than its predecessor, measuring 3.1 inches by 1.6 inches by 0.5 inch, but like the others in the line, it's priced to sell: the 2GB version is $59.99 and the 4GB goes for $79.99.
There's a lot to like about the Mozaic, but it really shines in the features department. There's no line-in recording or memory expansion; what you do get is a built-in mic for voice recording and an FM radio with autoscan and 32 preset slots. And Creative includes basic PIM functionality: you can sync contacts, tasks, and calendar info from Outlook to the device. The Mozaic even includes a speaker on the back for music-sharing moments.
Creative offers the device in a choice of three colors--black, gray, or pink--which account for the overall color scheme and shading on the tiles. Nine of these tiles comprise the player's main controls, which have understated markings to indicate their functions. This way, the buttons blend nicely into the overall design--we like the effect.