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Creative MuVo T200 review: Creative MuVo T200 (4GB)

It's tough trying to live up to your older sibling. Just ask Creative's MuVo T200, which struggles to match the company's Zen Stone on every spec.

Ella Morton
Ella was an Associate Editor at CNET Australia.
Ella Morton
4 min read

Following the emergence of super-slim, pebble-sized flash players like the second-gen iPod Shuffle and Creative's own Zen Stone range, you may have thought you'd seen the last of USB-key MP3 players. Think again. Creative, along with Sony, is still cranking out players that plug directly into your PC. These can be handy -- no cables required -- but the need to have a USB plug in the product can add precious millimetres and lead to unimaginative form factors.


Creative MuVo T200

The Good

Compatible with iTunes. Little extras such as screen rotation and display colours. Voice recorder.

The Bad

Limited file format support. Odd autoscan behaviour. Unintuitive menu; you'll need to read the manual.

The Bottom Line

It's not bad, but go for the Zen Stone Plus instead.

The 4GB lighter-sized T200 is no dag in the style stakes, but with its rectangular shape and circular navigation key it does have a first-gen Nano feel about it. The T200's teeny colour LCD and the fact that the it comes in black, white and pink are just enough to prevent it being seen as a Johnny-come-lately to Apple's pioneer party.

The supplied headphones are your standard black cheapo variety, looking and feeling similar to the version accompanying Samsung's recent players: black earbuds with removable foam cushions that require a bit of effort to wedge into your ear canals.

It's the little things that make all the difference. At first glance, the T200's features list is standard stuff: FM tuner; voice recorder. Delve a little deeper and the nifty extras start to surface, such as six colour options for the display and the southpaw-friendly ability to rotate the display 180 degrees. There's a clock but no stopwatch -- this fitness-focused feature is found in the Zen Stone Plus and Sony's NW-E003.

Here's a feature that may surprise, as it's not listed in the specs list: the T200 is compatible with iTunes. Plug that sucker in and it'll be recognised in the left column as a "Nomad MuVo". Naturally there are limitations -- the player only works with the Mac version and if you've loaded songs using Windows, they won't appear. You also can't transfer tracks bought from the store as the protected AAC format does not play nice with players outside the iPod family. Still, if iTunes has long been your music management app of choice, you'll appreciate the ability to use it with a non-Apple device. The forbidden nature of it even feels a bit naughty.

If you're not a Mac user you can go with simple drag-and-drop, Windows Media Player or Creative's included Media Lite music management app. The packaging for the player is so compact that there's no room for an installation CD, so the software is loaded onto the T200. Calling it a "music management app" is a bit highfalutin; it's essentially a window that allows you to copy files across. Oh, it shows the charging status of the player and allows you to limit the volume of all tracks. There's nothing wrong with simplicity, but it'll be a stark adjustment if you're accustomed to using iTunes or Media Player.

The big downers? The compact packaging means there's no USB extension cable, which will annoy those with crowded PC ports. There is also limited file format support, with MP3 and WMA making a lonely duo in the specs list.

Despite the dodgy headphones, we were satisfied with the sonic performance of the T200. A 320kbps version of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Red Right Hand had a decent bass line with no distortion. Overall audio performance was just above that of the second-gen iPod Shuffle (using the supplied headphones for both players), with treble sounding less tinny that the Apple player at the upper volume range.

We had mixed fortunes with the FM tuner's autoscan function. The first time we scanned for stations, the T200 detected just two. At this point it is worth mentioning that the CNET.com.au office is in the same building as a very popular national radio network, none of whose stations were detected. Undeterred, we extended the headphone cable and scanned again. Four stations were found, but all were of the obscure variety. Pondering the plausibility of the T200 being sentient and attempting to introduce us to underground music genres via niche radio shows, we walked to a window, placed the player on the ground and scanned a final time with the headphone cable held taut and vertical. Barely two seconds later, 19 stations were found. Whether this inconsistency was the result of our gadget-laden office's electrical force field, we're not quite sure -- but when trying to tune in to the airwaves, we recommend stretching out the headphone cable and venturing to the periphery of the building if indoors.

Voice recording was a snap, though it's best to stay within two metres of your audio source to ease muffling and background hiss.

As for annoyances, we didn't like the fact that tracks play automatically when the player is turned on. We also found the menu structure and button layout unintuitive. A perusal of the user guide (which is part of the software package supplied on the player) is enough to get the hang of how it all works, but those accustomed to binning the manual unread will struggle at first. Call it the iPod effect.

The T200 makes an acceptable all-around player, but in the end it's bettered by its own older brother: the Creative Zen Stone Plus. With better features -- including 9.5-hours of rated battery life against the T200's nine -- as well as a cheaper price, sexier look and recent speaker upgrade, the Zen Stone Plus is superior on every level except one: at 2GB, it has half the storage capacity. Provided you'll be changing songs regularly, the size sacrifice is worth it for the gains in usability. Go Stone or go home.