Creative Zen Nano Plus review: Creative Zen Nano Plus

Now for the fun stuff: The Zen Nano Plus includes an FM tuner with autoscan and 32 preset slots. The tuner is blissfully easy to use: simply select autoscan from within the menu when you're in FM mode; the player will scan all frequencies and save all the ones that come in as presets for future use (you can also scan manually if desired). You can record from the radio, and the player has a built-in mic for voice recordings as well; these recordings are saved as WAV files. The icing on the cake, however, is the line-in recording option, which encodes tracks directly to MP3. You can choose between three bit rates (96Kbps, 128Kbps, or 160Kbps) and even enable a function called Sync Track that automatically splits tracks. Do note that the Zen Nano Plus's line-in port is smaller than the norm, so you'll always want to have the included cable on hand for such recordings.

The Zen Nano Plus isn't without its flaws, though. There's no option to sort songs by artist, album, or genre, and there's no playlist support. Songs are listed in alphabetical--or numerical, if you name your files with track numbers preceding the song title--order. As such, the most logical way to transfer music, if you want some organization, is to use Windows Explorer and drag and drop album or artist folders (with no subfolders) directly from the My Music window; you can then browse through separate folders on the player.

As we've come to expect from Creative players, the Zen Nano Plus sounded good in our tests, even through the included earbuds. The signal-to-noise ratio is listed as simply "up to 90dB," which is average, but we noticed no background hiss at normal volume levels, and audio sounded rich and clean. We did note the same issue that several users have complained about: the backlight produces some feedback, though it's mostly perceptible when your music is paused and thus doesn't hamper overall sound quality.

Although the Creative Zen Nano Plus's maximum bit rate for line-in encoding is 160Kbps, recordings sounded quite good, and the track-splitting (Sync Track) function worked accurately. Voice recordings also came out clearly, although you have to hold the player fairly close to the sound source to avoid a muffled quality. The FM tuner worked a treat too, with the autoscanner picking up all local stations.

What we were most pleased with, however, was the battery life recorded by CNET Labs, which tested the Zen Nano Plus's sister product, the MuVo Micro. The MuVo Micro lasted more than 19 hours, beating Creative's own estimate by 4 hours. Its average transfer time of 1.76MB per second was decent for USB 2.0.

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