Creative Zen WAV Review

creative zen wav review Creative Zen WAV Review

Creative has added a new flash player to their already crowded Zen family of flash players– further cannibalizing their own product line. The Zen WAV is their first MP3 player to feature built-in speakers, anteing up to players like the Samsung K5 and the Sansa Connect. The WAV is a niche product that will really only appeal to someone wanting built in speakers and perhaps MSC support, since it is nearly the same player as the Zen V Plus, minus the speakers at the same price.

Still, the slight variations between the Zen V and WAV may be enough for consideration. Read on for a closer look at the Creative Zen WAV.

  • Quick Look
  • Capacities: 2GB, 4GB
  • Battery Life: 30 hours, 20 hours with speaker on
  • Screen: 1.5″ 65k TFT 128×128 pixel
  • Size: 85 x 42 x 12.5 mm
  • Weight: 49g
  • Audio Support: MP3, WMA, WAV
  • Photo Support: JPG
  • Video Support: AVI (OpenDML)
  • Transfer Protocol: MSC


The Zen WAV comes with everything you need to get started: software, user guide, standard USB cable, earbuds, protective pouch, line-in cable, and an acoustic stand. There should be a few aftermarket accessories available, such as a silicon skin or other types of protective cases. The Zen WAV is charged by your computer’s USB port, but any standard USB wall charger will work for on – the – go situations. These chargers can be found for under ten bucks.


The player’s exterior is entirely made out of plastic, and given a metallic-like painted finish. The screen is a hard scratch resistant plastic, much like you would find on many players. Overall, the design is nothing impressive, and is lacking the solid design typical of Creative Zen players. The player feels light, and somewhat flimsy. Although I do not have confirmation, I am almost certain this player is an ODM, manufactured and designed by another company. This was not the first time Creative has worked with other companies, for example, the MuVo Vidz was also outsourced. This is not an unusual practice.

Even though I would describe the overall build as cheap, I have not found it to be any less durable than other players. It is more how the player feels in your hand.

User Interface


The controls are very basic and similar to the Zen V. All of the navigation controls are found on the front: a 5 way center joystick, a pause/play/power button, and a back button which doubles as an option button with a long press. On the right side, you will find the a lock switch, but this also slides the other direction to turn the external speakers on and off.

The only small complaint I have is that it does not have dedicated volume buttons, different from the Zen V. Not a huge deal, but it would have been nice to have.

Graphical Interface

If you have used any Creative player in the Zen family, you will be familiar with the Zen WAV, since it is nearly identical. The minute differences are found in the extra options added for the external speakers and alarm clocks. Even though the GUI is unchanged, it is still the same easy to use and intuitive interface.


Transferring Media

The Zen WAV is a standard Mass Storage Class (MSC) device, meaning that it will work with any modern OS—Mac, Linux, and Windows. When you plug the Zen WAV in, it will show as a removable disk. Music can simply be dragged and dropped into the music folder.

However, in order to take advantage of all of the WAV’s features such as video and DRM9 content, you will need to install the software included, and this only runs on Windows XP SP2 and above (including Vista). This software also gives you the ability to manage playlists, rip CDs, and synch files, to name the main features. There is also a “smart fill” feature that will put random tracks on the player from a designated music library.


FM Radio

The FM radio is a solid aspect of the WAV. The reception is good, but will depend on the headphones you use. The autoscan feature will fill up your presets with all the clear stations in the area. The autoscan feature works better than most players. It will only fill the player with the clearest stations; no fuzzy stations will be introduced into your presets. The radio also has a bonus of having a signal strength indicator, much like your mobile phone.

Voice Recording

Voice is recorded in 32kbps mono WAV files. This feature is nice for a few voice notes and perhaps some class lectures. Your success in using this for class lectures will depend on the room and proximity to the lecturer. The WAV’s microphone is decent and may work in some setting for that purpose.

Line-In Recording

On the top of the player, there is a line-in jack connection (2.5mm), for external audio sources to be recorded. This will work for any audio source at typical line voltages, such as on a CD player or other MP3 players. A 3.5mm to 2.5mm cable is included to record from these devices. The line-in has a function that will automatically break up the recording into tracks when silence is detected. This comes in handy for copying CDs.

The audio format used is WMA and will record at selectable bitrates of 64, 80, 96, and 128kbps.

Time & Alarms

The alarm feature may set it apart from the Zen V just a little more, considering you can use its speakers to wake you. The function allows you to have up to 5 different alarms and a snooze function as well.

The world clock allows you to input three different time zones from around the world.

Text Reader

The WAV has a very basic text file reader. The screen holds six lines of text but with very few words (see the screenshots). It may not be the best idea for reading “eBooks”, but it may be handy for storing some contacts or grocery lists. However, if you do have mass text to read, there is a bookmark feature where you can index a page.

Auto Volume

One feature I noticed that I thought was great and worth mentioning, is the auto volume decreasing feature. When you remove any headphone or cable, the volume will be decreased once you put it back in the jack. This is great, I don’t know how many times I scared myself or hurt my ears plugging back in– a very nice touch by Creative.


The photo interface on the WAV is great. It’s easy to use and browse your collection of photos. Viewing photos on the WAV is a nice extra to have, but it is really as good as it can get on a tiny 65k color screen.


Like the Zen V, consider the video feature a bonus. While video looks as good as it can on the small screen, the player does not have the processing power to play highly compressed video, such as DivX, XviD, and h.263. The compression method used is AVI (OpenDML). This codec requires less processing power to display the video, but has very large file sizes. Every minute of video will take up 20MB; therefore a TV should use around 400MB and a movie may not even fit on the 2GB WAV.


The sound quality is par. It lacks the dynamics and midrange clarity of higher end players. Still, you will not be able to tell the difference unless you are using an expensive set of headphones. However, the player features preset and custom EQ for additional sound tweaking.

Built-in Speakers

Compared to other players with built-in speakers, like the Samsung K5 and the Sansa Connect, the WAV speaker sound quality comes in just below the Connect with the K5 leading the pack. The K5 can obviously beat both of these, since the speak
ers are much more robust than the WAV and the Connect. The WAV has more of a “tinny” sound to it compared to the Connect. I found the WAV’s speakers to be somewhat fatiguing to my ears after listening to music for extended periods of time—like 20 minutes.

Despite the fatiguing the music sounds ok, but I think that it is much better suited to playback audio books or podcasts. Regardless, they are still loud and clear and will fill a small room with sound. The acoustic stand included with the WAV does help increase the sound output and is also a nice place to set your WAV. It is a very useful bundled accessory.

Playlists & Bookmarks

Like most of Creative’s Zen players, the playlists and bookmarks on the WAV are a solid feature. The Zen WAV will allow you to create and name multiple playlists. Additionally, there are 10 spaces available for bookmarks if you are into audiobooks or long mixes.


The WAV is nothing outstanding, and lacks the build quality expected of Creative products. However, it does have an advantage over many players. It has the same great interface found on Creative’s Zen lineup. The Zen WAV closely resembles the Zen V Plus, but adds speakers, better battery life and an MSC connection, so it can be used on all modern OSes. If these features are important to you then you should check out the Zen WAV. Otherwise, the Zen V Plus is a better option.


  • Multiple On-the-Go Playlists & Bookmarks
  • Mass Storage Class (MSC) – No drivers needed
  • Same great Zen user interface
  • Better than average battery life


  • Sub-par build quality
  • No dedicated volume buttons


The Zen WAV is available at Wal-Mart—online only, but you may see it in stores in the future.


english on August 14, 2007 4:49 AM

whooo first comment, i like the player, doesnt look as good a the V, & HOORAY FOR MSC (FINALLY in a decent Creative player)

Hansk on August 14, 2007 6:46 AM

Think you overlooked the fact that this player has almost twice the battery life of the Zen V.

EnzoTen on August 14, 2007 8:22 AM

thanks Hansk, i adjusted accordingly.

ubrikkean on August 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Any info on the battery life while using the speaker?

ubrikkean on August 14, 2007 12:20 PM

Disregard that, I just realized it’s right there at the top. >.>

Yulee on August 14, 2007 5:30 PM

Impressive battery life but uggh, its hideous! And its cheap looking too! Reminds me of some sort of generic, no name brand mp3 player from China. I wouldn’t be caught dead with that (at least in public).

SteveMB on August 14, 2007 5:47 PM

english, what about the Creative Zen M or W?

Tomi on August 14, 2007 6:20 PM

FF & REW too slow for long files. Not durable.The Missing Function: Search Within a Track (Zen V Plus)This player is much like the Zen Neeon 2 than the Zen V.

Greywolf on August 14, 2007 6:36 PM

The 4gb version is all black and looks much better.At under $100 what do you expect, an iPhone???I had a v plus, 4 gb for all of three days. It WAS junk!!I sent it back and ordered the 4 GB wav (from……if it is not as good as advertised……it will go back, too!!!

Varuna Singh on August 15, 2007 8:49 AM

Thanks for that !!Please put a detailed walk through of the extra features and all that .. and also the full screen album art thingi.I’ve seen the snaps.. would want to see a video too.:)Over that… could you make a video comparing the external speakers with the cradle and without.Good Review though!You couldn’t get any better from less than $100.

techie on August 15, 2007 11:11 AM

oh dear, this one’s a fashion disaster!

pooh bear on August 16, 2007 9:36 AM

i’m thinking about getting a zen v plus should i ?

Greywolf on August 16, 2007 5:26 PM

The player itself is good, the software that comes with it (and must be used if you want any sort of functionality) is flawed. The Sync Manager works about half the time and sometimes not at all and the MNP requirements cripple the players use with 3rd party software.Creative makes a great player, but their software stinks.I returned a v plus and I am getting a WAV. It has built in speakers and is not crippled with MNP requirements. The price is about the same.If you can live with a 4gb maximum storage, try a wav instead, I am.

pooh bear on August 20, 2007 7:39 PM

thanks,should i trust creative?… cause i don’t and if i did get the zen wave is it big i meen bigger than v plus

pooh bear on August 20, 2007 7:40 PM

i meen bigger than a ipod?

Greywolf on August 20, 2007 11:46 PM

Slightly bigger than Ipod, about .25 in wider and .75 in longer than vplus.vplus is verrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy tiny…gets lost in my not so large hands…..Smaller is not always better.

Greywolf on August 20, 2007 11:47 PM

It is also under $100 at

pooh bear on August 22, 2007 9:07 PM

thanks greywolf,you’re the only one on here!

Greywolf on August 22, 2007 11:36 PM

Good luck and I hope the wav fills your mp3 needs.

GreeN on August 23, 2007 8:04 AM

Thx! Grahm Skee, good review.

DonDon on August 23, 2007 10:50 PM

I’d love it if it had a different interface, the zen: V/ zen microphoto interface is too old and slow. It’s really hard to scroll through massive song library’s.You can’t scroll alphabetically like the Zen Vision, so if your like me and like to listen to your entire library at once it’s a real pain to navigate.Which is why I fail to see the point in increasing the Zen V’s capacity to 16GB- whats the point in having a huge library if you have to wait an eternity to see your music.

Gary on August 24, 2007 11:21 PM

I bought this player and let me say it looks much, much better than any of the photos I’ve seen. As a matter of fact, the people I have shown it to have said it looks way better than alot of the other players out there. I think this player is fantastic for the price. I am using windows media player to sync and I have had no problems at all, everything is running very smoothly. I am very happy with it!! This is a real winner!

Greywolf on August 29, 2007 8:38 AM

I ordered my Wav on 8-12-07 from I used the “ship to store” option. I was supposed to get my Wav by no later than yesterday. I have yet to even get the email notice of the arrival of my Wav.If you buy this product from, have it shipped directly to you.It may cost a few extra bucks, but you will get it a lot sooner. And to add insult to injury, they have already charged my credit card and been using MY money now for 17 days without a Wav in my grubby little hands.

Greywolf on August 29, 2007 9:06 AM

Just rec’d notice that my Wav order has been delayed. Because it is ship to store order, I had to call an 800 number to find out what happened.Wal-Mart still has no clue as what happened………..putzes!!!

Greywolf on August 29, 2007 9:54 AM

Update………my Wav order delayed to September 7!!! They claim the order was never shipped….funny, website showed it was. I guess I will never know the whole truth. The kicker, they have already charged my credit card!Moral of the story……………………….DO NOT USE SHIP TO STORE OPTION………..Walmart can not be trusted!!!!!!!!!!!!

Greywolf on August 30, 2007 3:19 PM

Excerpt from email sent to me by Walmart:Please note that will not charge your credit card until your order has shipped. XXXXXXX, we do apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.OK…… charge against card…but they lied about shipping the Wav in the first place…….OK….50% guilty.

Greywolf on August 30, 2007 3:37 PM

Excerpt for email message from WalMart:Please note that will not charge your credit card until your order has shipped. Greywolf, we do apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.So, Walmart only lied to me about shipping my Wav, not charging my credit card…some small favor….only 50% bad…..

Greywolf on August 30, 2007 3:38 PM

Excerpt for email message from WalMart:Please note that will not charge your credit card until your order has shipped. Greywolf, we do apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.So, Walmart only lied to me about shipping my Wav, not charging my credit card…some small favor….only 50% bad…..

Dreadfall on September 11, 2007 6:57 AM

Man you people are damn impatient. Why did you order through ship to store if all you can do is whine? I used shipped to store option, submitted my order on August 29th. I got a confirmation email EXPLAINING the process of how site to store actually works. I then thought, well yeah I shoulda just had it shipped to my house, but this IS their process.It mentioned, the item would be received by September 10th to the 17th. I got an email Sunday the 9th confirming that my walmart had received my player, then I print the email, take it to the store and claim my ordered item. Why is that so hard to comprehend? You go around bashing something because you Don’t read directions. Read first before making an ass of yourself online.Long story short I got my player, and it works great, I’d certainly use site to store again, worked just fine for me, you’re all just walmart haters, why order from walmart when all you can do is bitch. This is a very nice mp3 player, the review was very harsh, mine works great and has very good sound.

Greywolf on September 11, 2007 4:12 PM

I agree, the ZEN wav is a nice mp3 player, it is definetly a keeper.As far as WalMart and ship to store option, glad it worked out for you, for me it did not.Their website showed that the player was shipped out and it hadn’t even left the warehouse.I do not tolerate companies that give me substandard service or products. I really go off on companies who LIE to me.

Greywolf on September 12, 2007 5:15 PM

…..and I did read the instructions you nimrod!! It is WalMart can’t seem to follow them!!!Again…….last post on WalMart…..they f’ned lied to me about shipping my WAV out….the )(^& thing did not even leave the Georgia warehouse on the last day of the ortiginal arrival time frame. They screwed up…….and lied………..arghhhhhhhhh….patience…….I tried to use ship to store…….that says it ALL!!!

sidekick on October 14, 2007 9:22 PM

got a zen wave on friday nite now its sun and comp that loaded music sat will not reconize the player to let me charge it what’s up with this????????????

Robert on October 27, 2007 3:40 AM

First Impression: I just purchased a Zen Wav and find it to be a descent player. I could care less for the external speakers but what would you expect from such tiny speakers? They are probably fine for listening to FM news/talk radio and podcasts (haven’t tried that yet), the volume output is OK but when it comes to listening to music when it sits in it’s plastic dock, the sound is not that good. But the stock earbuds sound really good with the player and the controls are pretty good. Easy to use but better options with my RCA Rio unit that is giving up. The included software makes it pretty easy to download music though there is an annoying feature you have to unclick that will delete all previous downloads to the unit before uploading new stuff. If you forget to unclick that option, then you waste a lot of time reloading what you had already. I got my 4 gig unit through walmart online for just under $100. Overall it’s a descent unit with good capacity for the price. Not a high-end unit but still it performs well.

Leland Robinson on October 28, 2007 9:40 PM

Are Google .gvi files compatible seeing as they are a different type of AVI files?

James Hunt on November 2, 2007 1:50 AM

FYI. As of Nov 2, 2007. This model has NOT supported Audible audio format just yet.As of Nov 2, 2007. Detail on wikipedia and several web site including Wal-Mart wrongly stated that it is “Audible Ready”.

Tina Young on January 5, 2008 5:17 PM

I recently bought the wav of line at walmart. I can’t figure out how to delete music off of it. I don’t see it in the instruction manual. Could you please help?Thanks,Tina

andara on July 31, 2008 10:32 PM

I have creative wav and it works great. for delete and add music, when you buy it, u will get a software cd for it. after you download it at ur pc, you can open and add easily

kanny wong on January 18, 2009 8:19 PM

which model of Creative mp3 have line in recording feature?

heri on May 24, 2009 6:53 PM

can record fm radio on air?

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