on November 22, 2005
I chose the Creative Zen Micro Photo over the IPod Nano for several reasons:
1. Storage space - Micro Photo has 8 GB, Nano has 4 (and costs more)
2. Rechargeable AND Replaceable battery - Unit charges through the USB cord whenever connected to your computer (this is a PLUS, because you spend a lot of time connected to your computer managing your music library). Micro Photo holds the charge for at least 12 hours, maybe more. And unlike the Nano, the battery is replaceable, so you can purchase extra batteries if this one dies, or swap batteries to keep music playing on long trips.
3. Compatibility with online music stores - This feature was #1 for me. I'm a big fan of Comcast Rhapsody, and this player (NOT any IPod) is compatible with their Rhapsody to Go service, which lets you have UNLIMITED downloads from their catalog of over 1 million songs for $14.99/month (as long as you have the subscription, your songs will play in your MicroPhoto). ITunes can't beat that. I no longer buy CDs. The day they come out, they are on my MicroPhoto.
4. Price - do your research, for an 8 GB compact-size mp3 player with a color display, this price is a steal.
I haven't even used the Photo features, but I'll love having an album of pictures on my mp3 player to show my friends and family at anytime.
The unit is very small; about the size of my flip-style cell phone. That's bigger than a Nano, but very lightweight and a comfortable fit in the palm of my hand. I didn't necessarily need a credit-card size player. I wanted the storage space and the Rhapsody-to-go compatibility.
Negatives (and there are only two minor ones):
1. The world is made for IPods, so there are not as many accesories available for Creative players as there are for IPods. However,[...] has a nice selection.
2. The touch controls are very sensitive and take some getting used to (I figured it out within 2 days).
My husband has an old Creative Zen Nomad (30 GB and the size of a small brick) and although it's no longer "in style" it works well. I know my Micro Photo will hold up well over time.
Friends, family, and coworkers were critical of my decision to purchase a Micro Photo instead of an IPod. Now, many of them want to trade their IPods for one. Do your research - the Rhapsody-to-Go compatibility and 8 GB hard drive were enough to sell me on the Micro Photo.
on November 21, 2005
For anyone that has at least half a brain and realizes that, not only are they not all called iPods, there are other brands out there that produce incredible portable mp3 players, this unit is for you.
First, what most people disregard as minor, this is one of the only mp3 players that charges with the same cord it uses to transfer files. To top that off, it's a standard USB cord! That means Universal Serial Bus, silly... it's the cord that comes with every computer, digital camera, blackberry, etc. That means you probably already have several of them! So what, you ask? Now you can charge your player and transfer files from any computer! This is no minor feature!!!!
Besides this feature that I love (that is so hard to find in other players), the Creative Zen Micro Photo also features a replaceable battery. To all of you iPod owners that have to charge your iPod every 4 hours I don't need to emphasize this. Top it off with great battery life!
What else? The quality of the picture on the screen is tops; the sound quality is great (the earphones are good too); the size is perfect; and the backlight is too cool. It looks great and is the best mp3 player on the market, bar none.
on March 23, 2006
I've had my Zen Micro for a little over a month with no catastrophic problems, which is a relief to me after reading some of the reviews concerning the unit itself being defective, not being compatible with PC software, etc.
Keeping in mind that my opinion could change at any time and that anything with technology is prone to dissapoint, here are my observations thus far concerning this Mp3 player...
* A whole rainbow of colors to choose from depending on your personality. (While I know that technically it's color does not determine whether or not it is a good product, I'm a girl and therefore love the choice of color!)
* Uses a standard USB cable to connect to you PC.
* It seems to have a solid construction. It's heavier than you would expect from the picture and the metal casing gives a sense of comfort for a clumsy person like me. I haven't dropped it yet but I've read other reviewers that have and it came out unscathed. Some people have said that you cannot workout with this player, but I take mine to the gym all the time. Just switch the power switch to the locked setting so you don't bump the touchpad.
* HUGE 8GB of storage space! I moved my whole music library (a measly 2GB), created several playlists, and stored lots of photos and I haven't even used half of the storage space yet.
* It plays all WAVE, Mp3, and WMA format files.
* Bass boost and smart volume especially are great features.
* It's smaller than it looks in the photo, about the size of a credit card but thicker.
* The battery is rechargeable and replaceable, which is great if you take long trips and don't want to worry about finding somewhere to recharge your player. Just pop in another battery and go!
* The menu screen is customizable. You can put your personal photos as wallpaper and choose from 8 different color schemes.
* I LOVE MAKING PLAYLISTS! That has to be one of the best features. If you have albums that you absolutely have to have at the push of a button make it into a playlist. I have all of Dave Matthews Band's albums arranged separately. Also if you workout a lot you can put songs that motivate you into a playlist, switch the power switch over to the locked setting so that you don't accidentally bump any buttons, and you're all set!
* FM Radio with programmable presets. I've read some reviews regarding the inconsistancy with the FM signal on their players and admit I've experienced it myself but there is a scan button that searches for the strongest signals. You can also save your favorites. I wish that there was an AM frequency too so I could listen to Coast to Coast at night but then maybe I am being picky.
* THE TOUCHPAD IS EXTREMELY TOUCHY! After quite a bit of practice, and also turning down the sensitivity, you can learn to master it but it is very frustrating, especially when you first get the device. It took me a half an hour just to get to the menu to turn down the sensitivity, hit the wrong button, and had to start all over. This is definately going to be a huge problem for people that are very push button, but you do get the hang of it after awhile.
* You cannot look at pictures while listening to music. This isn't a big deal for me since I hardly use the photo feature, but for some this could be dissapointing.
* If you take this player out in bright areas, especially outside in sunlight, the screen is very hard to see. I found that if I put a dark wallpaper on the screen it's easier to see, but not much.
* This player and it's software are Windows XP compatible only!
* While the length of the cord on the headphones is really nice for putting the player in your pocket, etc. the ear buds themselves are HUGE and hurt my ears after only having them in about 10 minutes. I threw them away and am back to my trusty Sony earphones...ahhhhh much better!
* The "protective pouch" is a JOKE! Seriously it's a drawstring bag that probably cost the company about a penny for 10 of them. Don't even waste your time trying to use it except maybe for long storage periods. I'm currently storing jewelery in mine!
* With as much as this player costs, Creative could have included a AC adapter. While being able to charge the player through the USB cable is nice when you're at home, if you travel it becomes a nuisance to find a computer to charge your player with.
* I've experienced the player trying to "idle shutdown" on me, usually when I'm listening to the FM Radio. This is mildly annoying and will stop if you just touch a button on the touchpad. I've read other reviewers having a similar problem so I think it's probably a bug in the product.
* Also sometimes when I've gone to connect my player to the USB to charge, it either doesn't recognize the player or something but it will not charge or let me organize files until I restart my computer. Again, mildly annoying and probably a bug in the product.
Overall I'm happy with my Zen Micro. The missing star is for the things that Creative overlooked or could have done better. Hope this review helped you.
on December 26, 2005
This MP3 player puts all others to shame...especially Apple's line of iPod products. Why bow down to a company that gives their hapless customers zero flexibility when you can buy a wonderfully crafted, superior (in every way) product such as this? Just do the research. This little baby gets you everything you want for less money and more value.
The earphones are very nice. Don't use this machine's bass boost with them, though. They're fine without it, and suffer with it turned on.
Don't bother using the pouch that comes with it. The MicroPhoto will simply slide out of it; the pouch's strings to not stay tightened with travel.
The controls are a little difficult to manage at first, but within ten minutes of playing with it, I was able to use it like a pro. Between my husband's large hands and my own small hands, neither of us have any problems with our two MicroPhotos.
The display and the interface itself are both absolutely amazing. My one qualm with this little gadget is that its battery indicator will lead you to believe that one third of the juice has been sucked out of it within an hour or so of use. Apparently the indicator only goes by thirds, so even if you have 95% of the bugger still ready to go, it looks as if you should already begin to worry over the battery being drained. Hopefully this nuisance will be solved...other than that, I'm one satisfied customer!
Creative's products have always been dependable, of course.
on March 16, 2006
Disclaimer: I had an iPod before switching to the Zen Micro.
Features I love
There are those who buy things because others got it. But there're things in life cooler than military-issued white. In fact, I got my Sony MDR-EX71 ear-buds in black because white ear-buds are so passe now.
2. Uses standard USB cable.
This might seem like a small thing, but really appreciate the fact I just need one cable when travelling to sync and charge my MP3 player, cellphone, and digital camera. No more tangling mess of cables and charges, and I can always buy a USB line almost anywhere for less than $5 if I forgot to bring one.
3. No drivers required. Works like thumb drive.
The most significant consequence is that I can plug the Zen to the USB port of any PC, and be able to use the Zen like a USB thumb drive. My previous iPod needed to install drivers, which is a luxury I don't have with other people's PCs, or office PCs where they restrict your admin rights.
4. Music Subscription.
This is the best invention since iPod itself. I have been die-hard fans of only 2-3 artists, die-hard meaning I buy every single album and singles they produce. For everyone else, there are plenty of songs I 'kinda like' but I didn't feel they were worth the money to buy.
With this subscription thingy, I get to download entire albums simply to try out entirely new songs and artists to see if I like 'em. I doesn't bother me I lose them if I stop my subscription - they are songs I probably won't pay in full in the first place. But sometimes, not buying a song doesn't mean not worthing listening to it once in a while.
5. Solid construction.
The Zen has a solid metal casing that not only feels sturdy and resistant to scratches, it can actually survive a four-feet drop without injury. (I've actually tried this, though not intentionally.) Couldn't say the same about my iPod. (My experience positively confirms that an iPod cannot survive a swinging knock against the subway door while inside a shoulder bag.)
The menu system is customizable and intuitive just like in iPod. (In fact, I heard the patent for the iPod menus are held by Creative Labs.) Synching songs is also piece of cake. Just plug-in and either WMP or Napster can sync up my library. This is probably standard feature now after iTunes set the standard.
At the end of the day, I can always resort to drag-n-drop straight from my windows explorer, for not only my music files but also data files. (See point #2 above.)
8. Battery Life
I do 10-hour shuttles from the West Coast to the Other Side of the Pond at least once a month, and the iPod used to just flat out with less than 10 hours of playing. The Zen can not only sustain the entire trip, but also the train rides to/from the airports ony each side. And I bought an extra battery in case I miss a chance to charge up in between. The "stamina" of most batteries decreases with such consecutive high mileage use, and with the iPod I wasn't able to do anything about it other than to buy a new one or send it back to the factory. With the Zen I have an immediate solution for $30 in the local Circuit City.
Features I don't like
1. No dedicated volume button. Need to go back to "Now Playing" screen to adjust the volume. Can't do it while I'm tweaking other things in different menus.
2. No podcast aggregation in Windows Media Player. Ok. This is more a WMP shortcoming than the Zen's. iTunes has the best podcast browser (though not the largest selection), so I continue to use iTunes to subscribe to podcasts, and let WMP automatically detect the new files and add to my player. It can be done, but I wish it can be done in one-step, one software.
These two dislikes mean it's not perfect for me, so, four stars.
on January 25, 2006
I must say, after owning an iPod mini which I loved despite it's quirks (ie. clickwheel simply didn't respond in some areas due to being packed in a pocket with all my other junk for some time) then buying the Nano because everyone else seemed to love them. Promptly I broke the screen (ok, I'm hard on stuff), sending it back, getting it back(two weeks later), then after two more weeks the battery wouldn't hold a charge (hmm, overcharging over USB?, well maybe) then doing the return/recieve thing again, then putting it in a "protective case" only to find when I pulled it out the whole thing was covered in scratches, FROM THE CASE!! (screen really was fixed though, no more cracks, just scratches).
At that point I figured, oh well, I've spent more on less before and started to shop around. I found the microphoto fell in love with it (I actually prefer the fact that it is larger, way easier to hold). Me, being the compulsive consumer I am forked out the cash right there and then. Brought it home and wow, it can tune into FM stations, that was an annoying little bauble I had to plug in to my docking port before, thus making the nano bigger and adding leverage to a wee little connector. Then boom, you mean I can record those lectures that I usually tune out of because the girl that sits next to me is hot!?!
Then BOOM, when I plug it into my PC, Windows recognizes it as a removable harddrive right from the start, my backup program asks me if I'd like to create a new profile for it and Outlook says "would you like to sync your calendar to portable device?". Now I'm thinking, why did I ever like apple products?
Then it hits me, I can't use iTunes, my trusty friend. It was so easy to sync my music and I worry, will this be a problem? Then I open Windows Media Player (which, if you have a sound system like mine, you will know actually produces better output than iTunes, thus making it my default music player even during my iPod days, plus it plays DVDs) Low and behold, there is my zen again, just waiting for some audio goodness to be transferred (unbelivably fast I must say, less than one second per song).
Then comes the moment of truth, what does it sound like with my 500 watt THX certified logitech sound system plugged into the headphone jack. It sounds good, way better than the Nano or the Mini (which both sounded identical I might add, same audio processor in both, anyone who says different is a victim of their own mind) The navigation is different, going up and down rather than round-and-round, but not all that bad, especially when you find that little touchpad sensitivity setting. After precisely one month of use I am now a Creative touchpad pro, nothing can stop me!
Not only does the battery keep it's charge, (by the way, new firmware seems to fix the short battery life thing, had the same issue and now she gives'r for a good 12hrs) but hey, I can buy a new one for 20 bucks and replace it myself! I never bought any music on iTunes, but I can't imagine it being any easier than MSN music, seems to work good, and I can play my girlfriend's songs from Rhapsody, not limited to Apple (or Microsoft for that matter) music files.
Ya, It isn't as "chic" as the nano, or as popular as the mini was, but it is a heck of a lot better. I loved my iPods, but I see now my eyes were closed to the truth, there is life beyond a clickwheel, and it is much better.I get a whole boat of features you have to pay extra for in an iPod, which consequently makes the devices rather irritating to operate. (and why oh why did Apple put that little headphone jack on the bottom of the player? everything else seemed to fit just fine)
Best of all, when I whip out my Zen, people at my University actually look and say "whoa, that looks cool" rather than "dude, you got one too, sweet". And though I will never ever use 8gb of music, I do have some rather sensitive databases backed up on the player as a tertiary backup (three harddrives, two mirrored, one important files only, one removable disc and now the zen) that works with existing backup utilities, on any computer (windows based i would assume).
Now, you make YOU'RE decision.
on May 31, 2006
To begin, the Zen Micro Photo is nothing short of amazing. I love it. It's sleek, compact, and stylish. One thing that really got me was the fact that it has 8GB of space; thats a Nano killer right there.
1. The Zen Micro Photo is wonderfully small and compact. Very sturdy build.
2. The fact that it has 8GB of space is great.
3. The OLED screen is beautiful, and the blue light that runs around the edge is pretty cool when it lights up.
4. This thing has a pretty good battery life depending on the way you use it. Mine usually last around 10-12 hours. And the batteries are replaceable, big ipod killer again.
5. Fast transfer of music to player (depending on the kind of computer you have)
6. Sound quality is excellent..... The preset EQ's are OK.
1. To begin, the touch pad is very very touchy, meaning that you have to be careful how you touch it because it can react to the slightest thing... but you can set the sensitivity. Also you practically have to smash the play/pause button to get it to react(minor complaint); there's a trick to it, you kinda have to slide your finger across the play/pause button.
2. The OLED screen is difficult to see in sunlight (minor complaint).
3. This is my only big complaint but it's kind of a user/product conflict. When transfering music to the mp3 player, if you don't want your music all jumbled up, the mp3 tags may need to be organized. To organize the tags is a lengthy process. You may have to go into the organizing program and rename artists, songs, etc.....
1. Don't really know when I'm gonna be using that FM radio
on April 11, 2007
There are some things I like about this, others I don't. Some people have written similar reviews, but I want to add my 2 cents. Hope this helps potential buyers.
1. Small, easy to use
2. Good sound quality
3. Good storage capacity for those of us who don't have 10 million songs hanging out on our computers.
4. Some people have complained that the Creative Media software is hard to understand. I disagree, I found it straightforward. You can even change the titles, artists, and genres of the songs on the software before it gets transferred to the player. Yes, I realize this can also be done in WMP, but sometimes you want to edit later, or you missed something earlier.
5. Replaceable battery. If it dies, you can get another one, you don't have to send it in to the company.
1. The shuffle mode is annoying. It doesn't go through the entire playlist on shuffle. Once a song is over, it goes right back onto the potential playlist, and can sometimes get played again fairly soon after it was first played, to the exclusion of the other items on the list. I want to hear all my songs at least once before I hear repeats.
2. The Creative Media Center software doesn't install on Windows Vista.
3. This is a hard drive player, so no running with it. That's okay though for people like me: I don't run. It also makes it cheaper than the IPod Nano, which is a flash player.
4. The cable to recharge the battery is a usb cable that hooks directly into your computer. I don't like this because I'm not always around my computer, I don't lug it with me everywhere I go. However, there are ports you can buy (here on Amazon, even) that plug into the wall and have little usb ports, so that's handy.
5. Not as many accessories as the IPod, but not that important.
6. You can't view your photos while you are listening to music. Sometimes this sucks, but if you have a camera phone, or are in an actual conversation with someone, you probably won't be listening to your music anyway.
If you want the software to run with Vista, you have to use the stuff you can download from the Creative Website. It is bulkier and more difficult to follow. Plus it takes FOREVER to actually run. However, you can manage your playlists, which is the only thing I use it for.
I love this thing and I use it all the time. I never leave home without my cell phone or my Zen. It beats any iPod in my book. You really cannot beat this workhorse of a MP3 player. I've dropped it more then a couple of times and it still performs well (I use to own an iPod nano and 1st time drop killed it).
I have two problems with it: (1) really POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE, they could not care less and thankfully I've only needed them one time (it's tough to destroy and the reset function solved my frozen screen problem); and (2) crappy shuffle function. I also have an older Nomad (which I love) and it has the same problems, you'd think they'd address at least one of the issues over the past 3 years. You do need to be somewhat digital literate or know someone who is to enjoy all of the great features, as the Creative Labs line is not the iPod so easy a monkey can do it. Not to say it's difficult to use, just not as easy as iPod and mine did not come with detailed instructions (although simple enough to figure out).
Now for all the pluses: (1)the photo feature is great (brillant colors); (2) as is the radio, recording and MP3 functions; (3) I love the universal cable portability; (4) the two-way music transfer is the best feature as far as I'm concerned, especially since you can transfer to any computer (like your personal laptop and home computer, etc.) not just the one registered like iPod; (5) enormous file storage capacity, we're talking a LOT of songs, etc. here....;(6) the sound quality of the songs is much higher then iPod since songs for iPod are recorded on their own proprietary file format (MP4s, I believe) which does not stand up well to other file formats for real audiophiles; and (7) the exchangeability of all types of songs, this Zen allows me to purchase foreign cds on my travels and save them without a problem - try that with any other MP3 player, I dare you. However, I did replace the included earphones with better ones by Sony but that's a personal preference so I didn't deduct any points. I also didn't deduct points for the quick trigger finger controls since you get use to them and eventually value them when you come close to filling the tremendous file storage capacity.
If you want a brillant MP3 player with outstanding functions then choose the Creative Labs line instead of making a trend statement with the latest and greatest iPod. I highly recommend this player.
on August 10, 2006
This is not a rant for or against the ipod, nor an add for creative; I have no problem with an Apple world, and I would have bought an ipod if I were richer and it had a radio function. But my tech toy budget is limited and ipods don't come with digital tuners, so I purchased the micro photo. And I have been very pleased with that decision thus far.
The micro photo feels solid and is compact for 8 gb. The battery is external (and proprietary) and can be accessed by removing a back panel; that was an attractive feature to me, as I hope it lasts long enough to replace the battery when it craps out. All external ports/plugs are on the top, with a power button/lock function button on the left, the headphone port in the middle, and USB 2.0 miniport on the right (next to the very tiny microphone hole). The screen is very legible indoors and the controls are well-spaced, with two raised dots towards the top of the touchpad for orientation. I personally thing it is a pretty sexy little player, especially with the indiglo-styled backlight edging and controls when turned on. Screen on-time and brightness can be controlled via the menu with a maximum on time of 30 seconds (a touch anywhere on the touchpad turns it back on when it's off).
The touchpad interface is very intuitive, but, as reported, extremely touchy. I have occasionally been frustrated with just how touchy, and have to be careful (especially when driving, a real inconvenience). Most of the critical touchpad movement involves the center button, a long rectangle on which you slide your finger up or down (think laptop pads) to move the selection up or down. The default setting include a clicking noise whenever the touchpad buttons are pressed or the slider is sliding, which helps some. The fast forward function in a file works well, and the micro has weighted fast forward (i.e., it fast forwards faster the longer the button is pressed). Nice for longer audio book-type files.
I have no complaints about the sound; there is some base distortion (even with the smart sound on, which is supposed to regulate that). There are several EQ settings and an option to set them manually. This is a unit where better headphones definitely helps; the stock headphones, as expected, are useless. The interactive software is good; the unit is plug and play detected with WMP 10 (and apparently only Windows XP--that's what I have, so I don't know if there is truly a problem with another OS), though I prefer using the proprietary software to manage playlists, upload content, etc. Pretty intuitive drag and drop and upload/download functionality---no complaints.
The micro seems solid and dependable: I jog with the unit and don't have any problems. A little research shows there were LOTS of problems with the predecessor player's headphone jack, but after jogging for a month, I haven't experienced any of those headaches. The lock feature is nice, especially when jogging (and especially given the touchy pad). My personal experience is that the advertised battery life (14 hours?) is not correct; I get about 6-8 hours out of the player before it needs a charge. I purchased the stand-alone charger, and find that the unit charges about twice as fast (3-4 hours) using the stand alone than through a computer USB port (6-8!).
As others have noted, the screen is almost useless in direct sunlight--would have been nice to have a brighter screen. The FM function works good (not great); we live about 45 minutes out of Portland, and I pick up the Portland stations about as good as I would expect. The record function, on the other hand, is shockingly good. The unit comes with a record feature, either voice or radio, that is pretty neat, especially the voice record. Rate=64 kbps (in .wav format), and there is NO background or white noise---pretty spectacular. It's not difficult to transfer recordings to a docking computer. I haven't used either the photo function (I have no use for 1.8 inch photos) nor the data storage function, so I won't comment on those.
There is no audible.com support yet (dare we hope for a near-future update?). Unit has 10 bookmarks that are great for larger audio files (e.g., podcasts) and easy to set; however, opening a bookmark set in a playlist/set opens the file correctly but doesn't return to the playlist/set; a little obnoxious when you're in file 3 of 20 in a ripped audio book. Volume is more than sufficient to hear audio recordings (i.e., ripped audio books) even with very low bit rates, a definite improvement over some mp3-playing portable CD players.
Alas, it is an ipod world. There are very few accessories for the micro photo, though there were more for the unit's precedessor model (micro) that look like they would fit the same size as the micro photo. But you're not going to find them at every electronic store, like you would ipod stuff.
Thus far, this player has satisfied my expectations and portends to be a dependable and satisfying unit for a while. I highly recommend it as a cheaper and more functional alternative to the ipod--especially if you would like to have the recording and tuner features.