The latest creature to float up to the surface of Creative's birthing pool is the replacement to last year's Zen X-Fi, which has been officially gutted and buried under a house. It's the Creative Zen X-Fi2, and while its name is almost identical, its features are not.
We fondled the new creation in a back room of Creative's booth at IFA. Banished are the weird navigational buttons used on the first X-Fi. Instead, the X-Fi2 uses a 76mm (3-inch) resistive touchscreen -- on paper, a decent move. But like a man giggling outrageously at a funeral, it's disappointingly insensitive. Also, there are no physical volume controls anymore, so you're forced to use this screen to turn your music up.
The quality of the screen has been lowered as well. The first X-Fi used the same 16.7 million colour LCD display as the Creative Zen, but this has dropped to a more average 262k colours. Videos and menus still look great, but won't be causing as many excitement-related underwear crises as before.
Other specs impress though. Lossless FLAC files are supported as well as iTunes Plus downloads, and it'll play DivX, MPEG-4, WMV and Xvid videos and output them to a TV. It comes with up to 32GB of storage and is expandable with microSD instead of the chunkier SD cards. And no doubt, like all Creative players, it'll sound phenomenal, but this is something we only test in our controlled CNET labs before commenting on.
So on the whole, the X-Fi2 feels like a player driven by a desire to be seen as excellent value rather than unaffordably A-list. A 32GB model will cost just £200, so mission very much successful. But as a result, Creative has sacrificed some of the premium polish we adored about the original Zen and X-Fi, and scrapped the Wi-Fi and streaming audio features to boot. Will it be enough to pull people away from an iPod touch? We'll find out when it goes on sale mid-September in the UK. Some more photos over the page.