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Creative Zen V Plus: Small, smooth and powerful

Creative has launched an MP3 player with the same feature set as the Zen Vision:M, but in a package smaller than the Zen Micro

With Apple's iPod range dominating the current MP3 player landscape, it's sometimes easy to forget that there are other MP3 player manufacturers out there. Creative has made some good MP3 players and late last year made the most dangerous 'iPod killer' we've seen so far, the Zen Vision:M.

Now it's launching two smaller MP3 players with similar features to the Vision:M, codenamed Zen V and Zen V Plus. The only difference between the two is that the Zen V Plus has a built-in FM radio and a video playback function, which as our US colleague James Kim says in his video review, "is definitely better, especially for the price". The Creative Zen V and Creative Zen V Plus are available in 1GB, 2GB and 4GB versions.

The Zen V players are the same size, measuring a compact 39 by 65 by 13mm -- smaller than the Zen Micro, but 8mm thicker than the iPod nano. The players have a scratch-resistant glossy black casing and look like smooth, rounded pebbles. The screen displays 262k colours and uses OLED (organic light-emitting diode) tech, so it shouldn't waste as much battery power as an LCD screen.

The players support MP3, WMA, WAV (lossless) and Audible formats and music subscription services. There is also a line-in port so you can record CDs directly on to it. Other features include a voice recorder, picture viewer and Microsoft Outlook synchronisation.

Our only niggle with the Zen V players is the new navigation button, which is small and looks like it might be awkward to use. We're also confused by the apparent lack of buttons on the left hand side of the front section, especially since we liked the buttons on the Vision:M and Micro. But we don't have one in yet, so we'll reserve our final judgement. Expect a full review soon. -AL