Creative Zen X-Fi review: Creative Zen X-Fi

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.5
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0

Average User Rating

4 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Creative Zen X-Fi is an incredible value given its low price and laundry list of features, which include photo, video, Audible, and subscription music support; an FM radio and voice recorder; an SD card expansion slot; WiFi capability; multiple EQ settings; X-Fi sound enhancement technology; and upgraded EP-830 earphones. Sound quality is top-notch, the screen is lovely, and the rated battery life for audio is impressive.

The Bad The Creative Zen X-Fi plastic construction does not feel high-quality, and the SD card content does not get integrated into the general libraries. Videos often need to be transcoded through the included software, and the button pad can be confusing at first. Audio battery life is dismal.

The Bottom Line The Creative Zen X-Fi's plastic design leaves a little to be desired, but that doesn't detract from the fact that the player is an incredible value overall: for an extremely competitive price you get a boatload of features and great sound quality.

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Editors' note: Our Creative Zen X-Fi test unit suffered from a cosmetic flaw where the bottom edge face plate warped up and away from the body of the player. This causes some concern for construction and durability, but the issue has not been reported to be present on other units and so will not affect the score of the review at this time. Once we receive a replacement, we will update this review accordingly. The rating for this product has been lowered from 7.7 to 7.5 as a result of its subpar battery life during testing.

Creative's Zen line of MP3 players is possibly one of the most extensive we've seen, especially if we take the company's Asia-specific devices into account. And Creative shows no signs of deviating from its plan to offer feature-packed players at impressively low price points. Evidence of this is apparent in the Zen X-Fi, a compact multimedia machine that's the first portable device to integrate Creative's X-Fi technology. The 16GB and 32GB versions are also the first Zens to pack in Wi-Fi capability, and without skimping on the usual array of features we've come to expect. Add to that top-notch sound quality and ultracompetitive pricing--$149, $199, and $279 for the 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB models, respectively--and you've got one of the best values available on the market today.

Style and design
The Creative Zen X-Fi isn't the coolest-looking player we've seen--if anything, it has pretty standard looks--but the understated black face, chrome-colored accenting, and brushed silver backside is sleek and inoffensive, which should give it mass appeal. More of a problem is the fact that the construction has a slightly cheap, unfinished feel, mostly because of the fact that it is encased entirely in plastic rather than metal. (However, we give a little leeway here, as metal may have caused issues with the wireless.) The four function buttons--back, contextual menu, shortcut, and play/pause--have sharp edges, which help with blind navigation but also lend to the unfinished feel, as does the fact that they are not backlit.

In between the function buttons, Creative has included a nine-digit keypad. At first, the inclusion of so many keys seems a bit confusing, but once you learn to ignore the outer four corners, you have a simple four-way directional pad with a center select button. The extras are an effort to make the Zen X-Fi adaptable to future applications. Sadly, dedicated volume is not part of the setup. The edges of the player feature a speaker on bottom, a standard mini USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack on the right, and a pinhole mic and SD card slot on the top. The power/hold switch is located on the backside of the player; kind of an odd placement, but not a big deal.

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Where to Buy

Creative Zen X-Fi (8GB)

Part Number: 70PF2420001F1

MSRP: $119.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Built-in Display TFT
  • Tuner Bands FM
  • Capacity 8 GB
  • Weight 2.4 oz
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards WMA
  • Installed Size 8 GB
  • Diagonal Size 2.5" m
  • Type 1 year warranty
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type digital player / radio