Jason Puckett With great power comes great bibliography.

9Feb/08Off

New mp3 player

iPods are not machine-washable.

A couple of weeks after I discovered this, I bought a Creative Zen 16gb mp3 player. My friend Adrien has dubbed it "Swanky McSexypants."

I think I did well in choosing this one. I had to give up 14 gigs of storage, since my old iPod used a hard drive and this one uses flash RAM (Creative has a new 32g model coming out, but it was more than I wanted to spend right now). I don't think I'll miss the space, though; at a certain point I just don't really notice the difference. My music collection is over fifty gigs, so I can only ever load a subset anyway.

Things I like:

  • No DRM. I loved my iPod, but I hated the artificial restrictions on moving my own media back and forth. The Zen allows me direct access to its file system without garbling filenames, and allows me to copy files back and forth no matter how many computers I want to plug the device into. I can also choose my own media library software (Mediamonkey, at the moment) instead of being stuck with iTunes.
  • Nice display, certainly as clear as the iPod video. I haven't played a video file on it yet, and may never do so.
  • I think the battery life is better than on my iPod, probably due to the lack of moving parts. Hard to say for sure.
  • A customizable shortcut button. I have mine mapped to "shuffle all tracks," which is how I usually listen to my music anyway.
  • A "look up artist/album" feature, for when I hear something I like and want to hear more of it.
  • More features than an iPod! It's got an FM radio and a voice recorder, and it takes SD cards for extra storage space.
  • Uses a standard USB cable for charging and syncing, no proprietary plugs.

Things I don't like: Not much so far.

  • The controls are slightly more awkward to use than the iPod. I sometimes have to squint at the buttons to figure out which one I want, and more than once I've skipped tracks forward or backward when I was just trying to page through a menu. Not a big deal; I'm just adjusting to a new interface. But I was used to the iPod almost immediately.
  • The radio -- and I'm really nitpicking here -- only allows you to save stations by way of an autoscan. There's no way to enter a frequency manually, and if it programs in stations you don't want, and you delete them, it leaves a gap in your presets. In other words, if I delete all the stations I don't want, I might have to page from preset 1, through 2-4 which are empty, to preset 5.

Though actually, I never listen to the radio -- I always have a player full of my music and podcasts.

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