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194 of 200 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2009
I've owned many MP3 players incl. Creative's Muvo, Zev V, and Zen. What drew me to the X-Fi2 was the larger screen, the video out, the RSS, plus the touch interface and speaker somewhat.

Display: Very pretty, 400 X 240. Good quality video and images look sharp and bright.

Audio Quality: I did A/B comparisons between the Zen and the X-Fi2, and the X-Fi2 wins. The top end is smoother, and the bass is tighter and deeper, and the overall sound is more open. They're similar in max volume, but the X-Fi2 sounds better.

X-Fi: I don't use it.

Creative Centrale: Install it, then forget it.

Audio Storage: Album art is a problem. The art has to be "embedded" in the ID3 tag for it to appear, it's possible Windows Media Player automatically does this. This can also be done with an app like "Mp3tag". Which meant going back and doing that to all 350 albums I had on the old Zen. Note that I don't use any services like Rhapsody, or files with DRM, so for me playback itself was fine.

Viewing Photos: Some jpgs don't show up except as "?" marks. Not sure why.

Videos: Nightmare. With the avi or wmv that worked fine on the Zen, the audio would break up or the vids wouldn't be recognized. Creative Central was unreliable and slow, and coverts vids to wmv.

I tried about 6 other converters, and either audio or video was messed up, or just not recognized (XVid, Divx, or wmv). Finally tested Handbrake, and the X-Fi2 was happy playing those XVid files, with very specific settings, about 90% of the time. And when it works, it looks great.

Video Out: Works surprisingly well, but no one will think it's a DVD.

RSS: Run a sync program from the X-Fi2 when it's connected to your PC. Kind of a pain, but it works.

Battery: Seems like the charging time and life are on par with the Zen.

Interface: Not easy. A quick light touch mostly doesn't work. Pressing down a larger area takes longer to process, so sometimes the fingernail trick is best. And sometimes it just takes a long to to respond in general. It also misinterprets gestures frequently. But with practice, it's usable.

The volume control is not immediately accessible (3 steps) on most levels, and not at all from the main menu. So trying to quickly turn it down on a sunny day (hard to see the display) is almost impossible.

Trying to do things one-handed is difficult (e.g. walking to the train, X-Fi2 in one hand, coffee in other).

Summary: It feels that the X-Fi2 was launched before development was complete. The touch interface is quirky, the video support is very finicky, and the menu design needs refinement. I'm hoping further firmware updates improve things. ITMT, the average user will NOT be happy.
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97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
I had high hopes for this player. Creative certainly advertizes it as the ultimate music machine that also plays video. And that is true, up to a certain point.

SPOILER ALERT: The X-Fi2 is not an MP4 player, seems sort of sad for a product of mid 2009. The device will play .avi files, but if you wrap an ffmpeg in an m4v container, it will not work.

1. The hardware is good, not great. The outer casing is slick metal, and can slip out of your fingers very easily. I ordered the leather case as a bumper bra, and at the time of my purchase, there were no 'skin' accessories to enhance the gripping of the X-Fi2. This is a two-handed device, one to grip, one to operate.

2. The Creative Centrale software sucks. There is no other word for it. Don't expect it to do anything useful (XP SP3). Fortuneatly, it is a mass-storage device, and you can drag-n-drop your files onto the X-Fi2 to avoid it.

3. Don't use Creative Centrale to encode video. It will not play reliably. The X-Fi2 has a limited compatibility with video files, so a third-party, one-trick pony application is needed to produce compatible video. Download a program, like HandBrake (free), and you will be able to watch great video on the 3" screen. The key to successfull video, scale the source video down to the X-Fi2's size (400 x 240). Observe perspective, get as close to those values as your source video will scale, but don't force them. keep your quality setting at 80& or higher, and the video will look very close to the source quality. 100% quality gives a great picture on the 3" screen, with all 16 million colors present, and no blocky pixels.

UPDATE: About Handbrake. The ZEN is now long in the tooth, but once in a while I need to dump a new movie on it for a friend. The version that works best for me is Handbrake Version 0.9.3 ( Anything newer than 0.9.3 drops the '.avi' function, and all you have left is m4v or mkv.) If you want to scale a DV video down to Zen screen, but find your "Que" never starts, you might have a full log table. Go to your Library preferences, open Handbrake folder, and delete the log/txt files that are there. I found that my logs folder had record of every conversion ever performed, even mixed between different versions of Handbrake. Cleaning them out brought back the program.

4. Touchscreen. Could be better. Even after issuing a firmware update just for the touchscreen, it still doesn't track well, and can be frustrating for diabetics who's finger tips may not get good circulation. You will do alot of swiping.

5. Music. Sound quality is superb, but the adjustments are not. Users must navigate several sub-menus for EQ, detail, and x-fi enhancements.

6. The supplied in-ear phones are comfortable and sound great. They come with a set of 3 different-size inserts.

7. Tuner. Great sound, poor management. Although there are 20+ presets for storing your favorite radio stations, they are not represented by any shortcut keys. You must access them sequentially, scroll through till you find the one you want. SPOILER ALERT: EQ cannot be applied to the tuner without leaving the tuner function, thereby killing the music. This sucks if you like to change genres of music in the same sitting. In order to select your listening preferences you leave the tuner section to access the EQ submenu, then have to go back and re-enter Tuner. Very bad, because it creates a negative exerience for radio listening.

8. Pictures. I haven't done many pictures, but the few which have been dropped in, need a few seconds to be loaded, then they are 'instantly' accessable :P

9. Battery. So far, I've gotten about 7 hours maximum, while watching video at 3/4 screen brightness. I haven't tried to stay with just music to see how much longer it could last.

10. Voice. The sample recording was of good fidelity, and I could hear background objects faintly (but cleanly) from about 10 ft. Closer is obviously better.

11. Expansion. The expansion slot is a nice addition, but is not without its quirks. Sometimes your files are not listed on the microSDHC card. You can not swap between internal, and expansion slot without forcing the X-Fi2 back to the Main Menu and refresh access. That should bring them up, but it is a step easily forgotten. Not sure why the Zen doesn't keep the microSDHC slot active, and this requirement is not printed anywhere in the documentation.


Video Out
Micro SDHC slot, recognizes up to 16GB.
Drag-n-Drop, no iTunes requirement(like an iPod would have)
3" Screen is high resolution, can have great video IF YOU SCALE.


VERY BAD SOFTWARE: Creative Central application is hands-down worst interface I've ever tried to use. The irony is, I have Creative mp3 players (Nomad IIc / Nomad Jukebox) from 2003 that have better software, and everything works. This year's Creative Centrale interface is pure crap.

Clunky operation: touch screen tracking is finicky, plus submenus are needed to access basic music adjustments. There is certainly enough empty real estate on the screen to program a shortcut or two, but there are none.

Tuner: can't listen to radio station and select EQ at the same time.

When this player has the proper support, it is a fantastic machine. Unfortuneatly, the need to go out for 3rd party support reduces the smarmy feelings I could have, and I seriously hope that future upgrades will eventually make this the ultimate media player that Creative advertizes it to be.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2009
First of all, I own the Zen Vision: W,the Zen Vision: M ,the Zen Media "Flash" Player 32gb , the Zen X-Fi 32gb player
and NOW the Zen X-Fi 2 32gb player. So I'm am quite familiar with way these players sound,operate, etc.
With the advent of the X-Fi technology there's Nothing out there that can beat this sound. (I own the Zune HD 32gb player too, slick but not as good sound wise).
This latest player takes a little getting use to as far as the touch screen is concerned. It is NOT as sensitive as the Zune HD, But with a little practice it works just fine. Using your finger/thumb nail as a stylus works great! Using the flat end of a finger,not so much (it'll frustrate you).
Like I said, having prior experience with the previous iterations of this player will help immensely.
It beats the hell out the tiny buttons (controls) of the X-Fi.
There is a short learning curve with this device. (as with most device's, including the Zune HD)Well worth the effort as there are many options to tweak to your particular taste. And it's expandable with it's memory card, A BIG plus as you can plug in play any media you have what so ever from a SD micro card.
This is the most versatile MP3 "music" player out there.
It this player perfect ? NO,................ But it's another step in the right direction.
One last observation, The Creative Centrale software STILL Sux !!! Because,
The ripping program STILL fails (just like the previous version) (errors) after only two consecutive rips....................
and you have close the Centrale software program and restart. That's If you're lucky !
If not, you'll have to REBOOT your computer to make the program run properly,..................

BUY/GET/STEAL a stylus, you'll need it !!!
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2009
I am a big fan of Creative mp3 players. I own the Creative Vision M player as well as the Creative X-Fi player; and, while each of these players has its advantages and disadvantages, I rate both of these as outstanding and highly recommended products. The Creative X-Fi 2 player, however, seems like it was rushed to market to compete with other touchscreen players, and it has been a huge disappointment.

In short, here are my objections to the X-Fi 2:

1. The touchscreen is extremely awkward to work with. Sometimes you have to press the screen two or three times to get it to respond. The interface of an mp3 player should work flawlessly. Unfortunately, the touchscreen of the X-Fi 2 makes using this mp3 player an exercise in frustration.

2. The original software that comes with the player does not save playlists correctly. If you save a playlist, it won't appear on your playlist. The update to the original firmware corrected this problem.

3. The resume play function does not work properly. I use my mp3 player mainly to listen to audiobooks, so the resume play function is absolutely critical for me. For some reason, the player often resumes playing at a place previous to where I left off the last time that I was listening to the audiobook.

4. The Crystalizer works just as well as on the X-Fi 2, but Creative must have changed the Expand on the X-Fi 2, for it sounds absolutely horrible! Expand does what it's supposed to do on the X-Fi model, which is to give the sound a more three-dimensional quality. On the X-Fi 2, however, Expand makes the audiobook sound like you're in a room with a really bad echo.

5. The volume control is awfully difficult to control on the screen, for the dot controlling the volume is so tiny. (Mind you, I have small hands. Even so, changing the volume to the desired level is extremely difficult!)

6. The rewind and fast forward buttons are S-L-O-W as compared to the X-Fi.

7. For the life of me, I can't figure out how to use the markers on Audible files on the X-Fi 2.

8. Flash-based players tend to freeze up and require a reset, but the X-Fi 2 seems to be freezing up a lot more than the X-Fi.

9. When you turn on the unit hoping to resume play, instead of going to the "now playing" screen, the unit turns on to the "main menu" screen. How frustrating to have to go through two extra pushes of a button to get back to what you were playing!

10. When saving the name of a playlist, good luck punching in the letters accurately with your finger! You'll have better luck if you use a stylus.

In sum, this unit is Creative Crap! If you have the X-Fi, don't buy the X-Fi 2. You will be disappointed. If you want to get an X-Fi player, stick with the original X-Fi line, at least until Creative fixes all of the problems that I've mentioned above.

As I said, I'm a big fan of Creative mp3 players, but the X-Fi 2 should definitely be taken back to the drawing board!

UPDATES (12/10/09)

In fairness, I wanted to report that the firmware updates have corrected some of the problems stated above. I've noticed improvements in the following:

1. The touchscreen responsiveness has been improved. It's still touchy sometimes, but it's MUCH better than before!

2. The rewind and fast forward buttons work better now; however, I think that they've overcompensated. Now the buttons seem to advance and rewind SO fast that you have to keep fast forwarding and rewinding to end up at the right spot.

3. I've figured out how to use the audio markers on Audible files. You move forward and back using the fast forward and rewind buttons. Note: If you don't have the latest firmware, attempting to use the markers makes the player freeze and you have to use the reset button.

Thus, I congratulate Creative for taking the time to correct some of their blunders, but I'm disappointed that a company known for its superior products didn't take the time to get it right before it put the product on the market.

So if you buy this product, before you do ANYTHING with it, update the firmware!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2009
Alright, I'm going to write this first: I do not use Napster to Go. This product is NOT compatible with Napster to Go and never was claimed to be on the manufacturer website. In fact, it says directly that it's incompatible with protected music. If you use Napster to Go, this product isn't for you.

Now, you might be reading bad reviews over the touch screen. Well, it's a bit iffy. BUT, it's not as bad as everyone says. I work at K-Mart and their registers are touchscreen. They're worse than the screen in the Creative Zen X-Fi2 and they're almost perfect. I will admit when going through the music list, you'll encounter some weird things with scrolling. You'll try to scroll and accidentally select an artist you didn't want to. That's the ONLY problem with the touch screen.

But, the touch screen problems are well made up for. The sound quality is amazing. My computer has HD sound output and these are near, if not exactly, the same in sound. The music is crisp and high quality (note: I usually don't accept anything under 320kbps so, my music is high quality before hand) and exactly how you would want them. I do recommend turning on Bass Boost. No matter what you're listening to (metal, rap, I listen to it all), it'll add that kick you want with your music.

The interface is almost the same as my old Creative Zen (before it became the MX). The main different between the interface of the two is the fact that the icons are all out there to easily access. The menu is easily navigated. I've read reviews that have said that the sound control is only avaliable in the "Now Playing" portion of the MP3 Player, but I've come to discover this is not true. With the holding down of the "Home" button, you can easily access the Volume Control.

The layout of the player is pretty much perfect. The power button is out of the way and very hard to accidentally hit. Also, it takes about 4 to 6 seconds for it to even begin to start shut down, so if you're carrying it in your pocket, you won't have to worry about it randomly shutting off. The power button, like in almost all Zens, is, as well, the hold button. There is one other button. The menu button. It's just kind of there. Not badly positioned, but not in the best place.

Edit: I've managed to find a single other con. The MP3 player isn't the studiest thing every made. It fell out of my coat pocket and one corner of it shattered (compared to my Creative Zen which survived through a car accident with minor scratches). All in all, this is still the best Zen I've owned. As well, a new advantage is the upgrade to the firmware which shows potential in games and applications being added into the players ability, as well as potential for accelerometer (tilt and turn functionality) use.

That's pretty much all the goods and bads. To sum it all up:

Great Interface
AMAZING Sound Quality
Looks Great
Hopeful applications

No Napster to Go Support
Not the sturdiest thing out there
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2009
I already own a Zen X-Fi and purchased the new Zen X-Fi2 when it was announced. There are many positive attributes, mainly the sound quality. For anyone who understands that mp3 files are compressed for convenience and storage but are "clipped" versions of the original sound files without the same depth, they will appreciate this player's ability to enhance the sound quality of mp3 files. This makes the sound quality better than virtually any other player on the market.

I also like the larger screen and its enhanced ability to display pictures and videos over the original.

That said, I would like to point out a couple of shortcomings which I hope Creative Labs will eventually overcome.

The main reason I decided to try it was that I thought it might be easier to navigate with the touch screen than the small buttons...yes and no. The touch screen is nice, however, it does not have the sensitivity and responsiveness of the Mac products such as the iPod Touch. It is especially annoying when trying to scroll across or down a list of choices or between screens.

The new X-Fi2 also lacks the ability to work with Zencast Organizer and its Sync Manager. This is important if you like to subscribe to and/or download podcasts to your player. This software works great on the Zen X-Fi.

Creative Labs has also chosen to remove the option of purchasing a version of the player with WiFi, which was great for wirelessly transferring files.

All in all, though, I like the new Zen X-Fi2. It is a quality-built product with a quality sound. It may not have all of the accessories available for it on the market that other mp3 players have. Yet, it gives you the best sound quality on the go, which is what the mp3 player is really all about.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2010
Revised: 04/27/2011 (see updates at end of review)

I bought the Zen X-Fi 2 to replace my aging, but still excellent Zen Vision:M. I was looking for something smaller and lighter, plus I wanted a bigger screen and this player fit the bill. I had been looking at the Zen X-Fi, but I read that the small buttons were a bit of hassle and the screen was smaller. I also liked the idea of having a touchscreen, so I decided to get the Zen X-Fi 2.

After plugging the player into my PC and installing the software, I was prompted to update to the latest firmware, which as of this writing is 1.20.08. That installed fine, so I proceeded to check out the player and mess around with all of the options. The menus are similar to the Zen Vision:M, so navigation was easy except that the touchscreen is different and takes some getting used to. Most of the time a light tap with a fingernail works for accessing the options, but at other times you need to press a bit with the tip of your finger to get another screen to come up, adjust the volume, etc. It's not as terrible as some people have described, but it should have been a more sensitive touchscreen because some people may press too hard and end up with dead pixels or a broken screen. I took a star off for this reason and the unresponsiveness that happens randomly. Even with the latest firmware, it's still a bit quirky and will frustrate some people.

Overall the touchscreen is great when it's working properly, which is about 98% of the time. It's Creative's first touchscreen mp3 player and maybe a few more firmware updates will solve these problems.

Videos run fine on this player, but it's important to know the proper way to encode them in order to avoid the freezing and stuttering problems that others have mentioned. I use a couple or free video converters, but the easiest one I found that works perfect for most anything is Any Video Converter. The best method for encoding 16:9 widescreen videos for the Zen X-Fi 2 is to use a resolution of 640x272. For standard 4:3 videos, 640x480 works good. Bit rates should not go over 800kbps because the processor doesn't appear to be able to handle anything higher than that without freezing or stuttering (Creative got cheap here, but considering the price...). As for the right encoding format, select avi for the container and use either mpeg4 or xvid for the codec.

The screen only produces 18-bit color, but for the cost I'm not complaining. There's some dithering, but it's barely noticeable on a screen this size. The contrast is very good, which really helps to produce brighter colors and good shadow detail. The 3" screen is a big plus for watching movies and TV shows in widescreen. I find that it's just big enough to get lost in.

Sound quality is where the Zen X-Fi 2 really shines. It's a few steps up from the Zen Vision:M, and after getting it tweaked to my liking it sounds awesome. The IEMs (EP-630) that come with it are excellent, which is a surprise because most companies supply really cheap ones to cut down on costs. I find these as an added bonus and makes the deal even sweeter.

With the supplied earbuds, I have my audio settings set up like this:

Smart Volume: OFF
Bass Boost: OFF

Custom EQ:

80Hz +1
250Hz -2
1k +1
4k +2
13k 0

X-Fi Crystalizer: ON 25-30%
X-Fi Expand: ON 15-20%

I settled on these settings after a few weeks of use to allow the earphones to break-in. Sound is rather tame on the low end, but I never liked a lot of bass and these earbuds are bass heavy.

Smart volume works best for the random playing of various songs where the volume differences will vary quite a bit. It's debatable if this feature should be used if your mp3s have ReplayGain tags added to them, and after using it for several weeks I've decided to leave it off for good. Because it acts like a peak limiter it tends to crush transients and creates a hole, making the sound quieter and dull.

Bass Boost adds too much mid-bass, so turn it off unless you like a muddy, boomy sound. This might work well with crappy earbuds or earbuds weak on bass, but not with the set that comes with it.

The X-Fi Crystalizer--basically a multiband limiter that enhances high and low frequencies--does increase the clarity of the sound quite a bit, but be careful not to overdo it. I find the 20-25% range about perfect for most music genres, although I mostly listen to rock, pop, soul and R&B (old and new). If you use really crappy headphones/earbuds then setting it higher may help a bit. With this feature enabled I'm hearing stuff that I never heard before and the soundstage in much more open, wide and airy over the Zen Vision:M. This feature is similar to BBE phase correction as it delays certain frequencies, which helps to reduce the muddiness found in the lower and middle ranges. From my research the X-Fi processing on the Zen X-Fi 2 is done via software rather than with hardware, so the results aren't quite as good as Creative's sound cards with the X-Fi chip. The bottom line is that the Crystalizer can help restore the clarity of some poorly encoded mp3s, but don't expect it to homogenize the sound when going from track to track. You'd need $1000+ professional audio processors to do this. Also, it can't reproduce something that's lost.

The X-Fi Expand adds a simulated live soundstage to the music. I found that using around 10-15% of the effect adds a bit more dimension. The higher you set this the more narrow the soundstage becomes and at 100% the music sounds like it's coming from inside a metal can.

Edit: While it is possible to create playlists with Creative's Centrale software, I recommend MediaMonkey (it's free) or another program to make it easier. Creative Centrale isn't very intuitive and isn't worth the time you'll waste getting it to work the way you want. It's just a confusing mess.

My method for making playlists in MediaMonkey is to set up an AutoPlaylist in order to generate a random selection of songs from specific categories in the library. You can set this up to randomize by artist, genre, title, etc. After I get the playlist set up and edited, I copy the the tracks to another folder and use the Level Track Volume option on all the tracks. What this does is add the ReplayGain tags on each mp3 file in order to set the volume at the same level for each track. I set it to 94dB and it seems to work well at that setting. *The reason for copying the tracks is because using Level Track Volume is irreversible.* After that is done, I select all the tracks and send them to a new m3u playlist in MediaMonkey, which can be renamed to whatever you want. Once that is done it's just a matter of sending it to "My Zen" and you wait for the files to transfer to the player. Once completed the playlist should show up under Playlists on the player. If it doesn't then check to see where the playlist is on the player and move it to the "Playlist" folder. If you don't care to use Level Track Volume, then you just need to create a m3u playlist and simply send it to the player when done. The method I use just keeps you from having to constantly adjust the volume. Using Smart Volume on the player will further smooth out any large peaks in volume, but I don't recommend using it unless you decide not to level or normalize the volume on your mp3s.

If you have a large collection of music mp3s, you may want to go through them and attempt to replace any that have bit rates under 192k unless they were encoded with VBR 190k, which will show bit rates above and below that threshold. I noticed several mp3s that were ripped at 128k from my CD collection from years ago sound a lot worse on this player. I've re-ripped/replaced most of them and the difference is very noticeable.

I should mention that I had a problem with charging the player via the front USB ports on my PC. It seemed like it was charging but would never finish charging because the battery icon never stopped flashing. Browsing the Creative forums I was able to find out what the problem was and fix it. The solution was to use a rear USB port.

I think the X-Fi 2 is a steal for the price. Even with the touchscreen quirks, it still reigns as one of the best sounding mp3 players on the market today. Getting the sound to your liking may take a bit of tweaking, but once you get there it's pure ecstasy to your ears.

Update 1: Updated to the latest firmware (1.22.03) and made an adjustment to the X-Fi Crystalizer (set to 30% or slightly higher). There seems to be more sound density and body now along with a smoother roll-off in the upper frequencies. You may need to tweak the Crystalizer setting to find a sweet spot, but I think it sits somewhere in the 25-35% range with the provided earphones. Volume needed to be raised a notch after the update, which I suspect was due to the X-Fi Expand bug that has been squashed. The touchscreen is more responsive now.

Update 2: EQ adjusted slightly to remove the muddiness from the lower frequencies with the stock earbuds. Some songs may sound a bit thinner, but it's better than a muddy sounding bass. I also set the X-Fi Expand setting to around 20%. This adds a bit more depth and width to the soundstage.

Update 3: Updated to the latest firmware (1.23.01) and noticed little to no difference in the sound quality. What it fixed was a bug that causes the date stamps of recorded tracks to change on the next power cycle and a bug that causes a long startup time when a recorded voice track is added to the ZEN X-Fi2 64GB player.

Note that this firmware does not do a reset of your custom settings like previous firmwares did.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2009
This player was bought to replace a zen: vision M after its unfortunate drowning in the bottom of a backpack. Creative products, like many other MP3 players on the market are not Ipods- don't confuse them, don't expect it to be an ipod. In other words, if this product is on your hate list because it's not an Ipod, I'd suggest looking at the brand name and perhaps spend some time reflecting on purchasing what you actually want.

This little player comes packaged compactly, and the attached headphones are total treasures despite the lack of a firm post making them somewhat difficult to put in compared to my 50$ sony comparisons. It comes with the earphones, some paper inserts that I didn't need to download the software and get my music transferring and a USB/mini-USB chord that is literally about 3 inches long. I suggest purchasing a case, screen protector and this --->USB Cable+Car+Wall Charger for Creative Zen 4G 8GB 16GB. (It says its for the zen, but any mini usb would work.)
Creative centrale is totally useless and a general pain in the butt- I prefer to drag and drop intuitive style. The touch screen is a little heavier-handed than an Itouch, but I find it much more responsive than my sister's LG touch cell phone and works well for those who have used a touch interface or even a wacom tablet. It also responds better than my boyfriend's Itouch because my hands have poor circulation and are very cold. The screen is beautiful, the interface basically the vision:M in touch form.

This little player is well worth the money- its about the size of a credit card, light, easy to use even with gloves on- plus its beautiful, sounds 100X better than I could ever get an ipod to sound and ~100$ cheaper in my comparison with the 32GB Itouch on sale for 280$ at the local target, including accessories.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2009
At a mere $130 for the 8GB model, this latest offering from Creative Labs stood out as a major bargain.

The included USB cable is so comically short as to be impractical to use except with a laptop. You probably had at least one spare USB cable anyway, but be forewarned that this pint-sized embarrassment is an example of blatant cheapassery on Creative's part. The Creative Labs ZEN X-FI2 Screen Protector is essential if you don't want a pitifully scratched up touch screen, so definitely get it with the player.

I've seen a lot of negative opinions about the touch screen, but I'm more sympathetic to this aspect of the product (I've never owned a touch screen product before this, mind you). After a good calibration, I found the sensitivity and responsiveness of the screen more than adequate for my needs. Perhaps Creative will further refine the touchscreen interface via future firmware releases.

In terms of battery life, this player delivers with flying colors. A new one on a full charge should last for days upon days of constant listening before needing another recharge. The battery will of course weaken after many months of use.

The sound quality of the X-Fi 2 is another selling point. The sound driver in this player is state of the art, and with the right headphones will perform at an audiophile caliber. The much acclaimed X-Fi 2 sound processing feature is well-worth using, too. The kind of clarity and dynamics it adds to the music must be heard to be believed! It breathes new life into your favorite archaically mastered 80s/90s album, and gives the right amount of dynamic range to that album you bought last year that was rendered nigh unlistenable by the loudness war. I've found 10-15% crystallization and about 30% expand to be the best settings for my own experience. Any more and the sound begins to be too harsh in the mid-ranges and too artificial/processed in general. This player finally includes lossless FLAC file support, but I don't think many will find use for it; FLAC is the most compact of all lossless audio formats, yet still too impractically large to be used exclusively on an mp3 player with so little memory. Ogg Vorbis support would have been truly wonderful, but sadly, no cigar. Creative was also very generous to include a set of high quality rubber-cushioned in-ear headphones with the player. Most mp3 players, iPod included, ship with cheap, uncomfortable earbuds that boast tinny sound. These earbuds are decently comfortable, and the sound quality is top-notch. The buds would be worth at least a $20 purchase by themselves.

I was very disappointed to find out that the micro-SD memory slot has to be accessed separately and can transfer to (but not merge with) with your main library, which is acceptable but very inconvenient. This was probably done to encourage buyers to purchase higher memory (more expensive) versions of the mp3 player instead of the 8GB model and a cheap SD card, but it's a bad move from a quality standpoint. Were it not for this letdown, I probably would have given this product a full five stars.

I have not really used the video feature of the player, so I will not be reviewing that. Other reviewers seem to have a positive opinion about everything but the conversion process.

I found the included Creative Centrale program to be pretty useless crudware. It doesn't work and it has the stench of software included for the sake of having software. The program couldn't sync part of my library, tried to install the latest firmware but failed, doesn't fix mp3 tags correctly, actually wiped some of my tag information, didn't recognize all my album art, and so on. Syncing from Windows Media Player or even simply copying files to the player's music folder guarantees better results.

In summary, this is a fantastic but not imperfect product, and a solid low-cost alternative to better known touch screen mp3 players.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2010
So I purchased the Xfi-2 from a monstrous line-up of mp3 players here on Amazon. It seemed to have all the qualities of very popular Itouch except I didn't have to become a snob to own one. Then I started reading all the reviews here and on Creative's forums that said pretty much the same things: "Problem...(touchscreen sensitivity)", "Problem...Creative Central software freezes and doesn't play videos!". Initially, my thoughts were that I had made a bad choice and will probably end up having to send it right back. But like most everyone else here who didn't heed all the warnings, I just had to walk down that path myself and see how bad it really was, lol.

Right out of the box, there's a note by Creative to go to their website and download the new firmware...hmmmmmm. Of course, I didn't. I Started messing around with it by opening one of the sub menus with my thumb and trying to select it with my other thumb and CRASH!!! So maybe I'll go update the firmware now...

There were no more crashes after that, and touchscreen was much better although not comparable to the responsiveness of the nimble Itouch. This becomes more apparent as you have to scroll through the ever increasing list of music and videos. It's not bad though, but you're not flying through all the media and switching back and forth between the menus like you would really want to.

Worried about the Xfi-2 crashing again, I decided not to use the Creative Central's software with the intention of downloading it later if absolutely needed but never did. Also, Itunes didn't recognize the player like the description had said, but Media Monkey did so I used that instead to setup my play-lists, album info and artwork.

Next up, I got on to YouTube and starting downloading videos using a free YouTube Clip Extractor, but couldn't get the player to recognize any of the files. I also tried some other free Youtube downloaders, but it was very inconsistent on what actually played and what didn't. I later found out that you needed to convert all these video files to an older .AVI format, which was kind of a pain, but took less than 5 mins total from start to finish for each video. The Handbrake ver 9.3 software converted all those different video files with ease and they looked amazing!

So after going through all that just to get the player to function properly, why did I give it 5 stars? It sounds absolutely fabulous!!! Screw you, Apple, for making people pay through the nose for a touchscreen device that sounds like crap! I love my Zen touchscreen! I now have over 70 high quality music videos which I constantly share (show off) to friends and co-workers. They always ask me how much I paid for the device, and so I take a little bit of pleasure in telling them it was under a hundred bucks (especially the ones that are holding an Itouch).
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