Creative Zen Mozaic review:

Creative Zen Mozaic

Typical Price: £119.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

1.5 stars 1 user review

The Good Sound quality; decent feature set; FM radio; battery life.

The Bad Poor screen and video support; video conversion requires bundled software.

The Bottom Line While neither revolutionary nor exciting in terms of functionality, the Mozaic offers terrific sound quality and a decent feature set, and is going for a penny under £120 with a 16GB capacity -- which is superb value

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.5 Overall

Creative effectively replaced the popular Zen Vision:M when it released the Zen last year, and now it's effectively taking the spotlight from the classic Zen V Plus with the Zen Mozaic -- a music and video player coming in 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities.

With its main competitor -- the iPod nano -- selling at £150 for 16GB, the 16GB Mozaic, at £120, could be a hot steal. But can the arty new Zen hold its own even with the price advantage?

Being unusually stylish was evidently a hot requirement for Creative when developing the Mozaic. Yet it adheres to convention in many ways. Its all-plastic enclosure features a small 128x160-pixel LCD screen, a four-way control pad and entirely front-mounted menu and function buttons.

The screen's bright, but it's not great quality

There's a dinky speaker embedded into the rear of the player, a la many new Zens. In our personal opinion, we hate these, mainly because kids use them excessively on buses. But we appreciate it takes nothing away from the player, is handy for podcasts and is something Apple's nano doesn't offer.

But many players offer a less budget-feeling keypad -- one of our least favourite aspects of the Mozaic. The little buttons are very usable, sure. But they don't scream, "Hey baby, come touch me!" It's a sturdy player though, built well enough to survive a rough-and-ready lifestyle.

We hate mini speakers, but they have the odd use

Squashed inside is support for just the basic roster of audio formats: MP3, WMA and WAV; and the awkward old MJPEG video format. There's also an FM radio complete with space for 32 favourite stations. It uses your headphones as an antenna, which isn't great if you want to use the player with portable speakers (see our advice for getting around this). And there are some organiser functions, too, including a calendar and contacts database.

Audible audiobooks in formats 2, 3 and 4 are also supported, as are DRMed WMA files from the likes of Napster. And in addition to that little speaker on the back is an integrated microphone for voice recording. It records in 16kHz WAV format, in mono, at 64Kbps.

This 'mosaic' theme is actually the navigational control pad

Since JPEG photos are supported, Creative lets you set any of them as background wallpapers, in addition to the slightly customisable visual themes and a completely customisable menu system. So, if you never watch videos and don't care about browsing music by genre, album or song, you can simply remove these options and keep your menus compact.

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