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MP3 Players

Creative's Zen Touch sets sights on iPod

Creative aims to break Apple's stranglehold on the portable audio player by releasing the 20GB Zen Touch.

Creative Labs today announced the 20GB Zen Touch portable audio player, claiming it provides three times the battery life of Apple's 20GB iPod -- and retails for the same price.

Like the iPod, it is based around a 1.8-inch hard drive but Creative's Zen Touch is slightly larger (10.5 x 6.9 x 2.2cm) and 40 grams heavier, tipping the scales at 200g. Creative has implemented a touch-sensitive navigation control that users operate in a vertical motion, as opposed to the circular navigation that Apple's scrollwheel gives the iPod. A dedicated Random button will grace the Zen Touch's face to launch a mixed combination of songs from the player.

Creative claims the Zen Touch has a battery life of 32 hours when playing back files stored in the MP3 file format encoded at 48kbps. The battery life decreases to 24 hours when playing higher-quality 128kbps MP3 files, according to the company.

Up against tough competition in the style department, the Zen Touch is set in a metallic graphite and white gloss case and features a blue backlit LCD (160 x 104 pixel resolution). It supports WMA, MP3 and WAV file formats and has a search function to find songs stored on the device.

Users can create customised play lists and transfer music and data files from their PC to the Zen Touch using a speedy USB 2.0 connection. Creative bundles MediaSource jukebox software with the device that can rip CDs, organise digital music collections, and transfer MP3 and WMA files. Creative also states that the player integrates with Windows Media Player 9 for download music services.

At a recommended retail price of AU$499, the Zen Touch will be available locally at the end of August bundled with Neodymium headphones, carry case, software CD, USB cable, power adapter as well as an FM-wired remote control that generally sells for AU$149.95.