Creative Zen X-Fi Review

creative zen x fi main Creative Zen X Fi Review

Zen fans have been looking forward to the next big thing from Creative. These fans clamored for a Zen Vision:M replacement which is, in my opinion, the best blend of MP3 players and PMPs to date. Creative’s last biggest release, the Zen, didn’t seem to hush this cry for something new, because it couldn’t yet natively play high resolution XviD/DivX files, failed at integrating the SD slot, and had cost-prohibitive 30GB+ capacities.

The brand new Zen X-Fi is basically a refreshed version of the Zen, but with added wireless features and X-Fi sound enhancement. Will this be enough, though, to satisfy the Zen fans who have been patiently waiting for Creative’s latest addition to the family?

  • Quick Look
  • Size: 83mm x 55mm x 12.8mm
  • Weight: 68g
  • Capacities: 8GB (no Wi-fi), 16GB, 32GB
  • Screen: 2.5”, 320×240 pixel, 16.7m colors
  • Rated Battery Life: 36 hours audio, 5 hours video
  • Transfer Protocol: MTP
  • Video Formats: WMV, MPEG4-SP, Divx 4/5, Xvid, and MJPEG
  • Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and Audible 2,3,4
  • Photo Formats: JPG (Software will transcode BMP, GIF, PNG, and TIFF)
  • Wireless: IEEE 802.11 b/g with WEP, WPA-PSK, or WPA2-PSK security
  • Other Features: Built-In Speaker, X-Fi Sound Enhancement, FM Radio, Calendar, Contact, Task List
  • Full Specs
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Accessories

Like many players today, the X-Fi comes with the basics: USB cable, EP-830 Headphones, Zen X-Fi Install disk, and quick start guide. However, the headphones included are not so basic; they recently were selling for roughly $60 USD in Singapore.

I think a lot of people will be happy with the supplied headphones since the set is many times better than typical earbuds. While these phones are an improvement over nearly all supplied headphones, they don’t quite match up to those that come with Zune 80 or some of the new Sony players. The EP-830s will appeal to the bass heads since it’s really heavy on the low end of the spectrum. The highs, however, are not as clean as they should be.

Creative also has released some official accessories including a screen protector, arm band, silicon case, leather case, and speaker dock. Iif you’re after some accessories, most of these should cover your needs.

Design / Build Quality

The X-Fi is one of the best built Zens to date; it’s very sturdy with button tolerances that are on point. It feels better than the Zen and is much less “toy like.” With a chrome rim and a metallic-looking backing, Creative has done a good job making it look a little bit more substantial rather than like something a toddler pulled out of his toy box. However, the looks are a bit deceiving since no metal is actually found on any of the exterior parts –all of which are some version of plastic. The screen, although plastic, is harder and smoother than what is found on the Zen; additionally, the butto
ns are raised, helping to keep the screen from getting scratched when placed face down.

Even though there are some cutbacks in materials, I really don’t have any complaints about how the Zen X-Fi is built, especially at its price point.

Screen

The 2.5” 320×240 pixel, 16.7m color screen is the same as what is found in the Zen: overall great looking with rich and accurate colors. There are nearly full viewing angles for left, right, and bottom angles, but the top angle is really bad. Tilting the player towards you only a few degrees washes out the screen.

User Interface

I always like the Zen UI since it’s an easy “pick up and use” interface. If you have used nearly any other player in the Zen family, you will feel right at home. It is not much of a deviation from the Zen, but just has more menu options for the additional features.

On the other hand, the interface has become quite cluttered from the new features, but the saving grace of this interface – and one thing I really appreciate – is the user’s ability to configure the entire menu system. This allows you to completely remove some features from the home screen or bring sub menu times to the front. For instance, if I find “Chat” to be useless I can take that away from the main menu and insert “Media Server.” I will only ever see “Chat” if I add it back under the settings menu.

Controls

While the buttons feel very solid and have a nice click to them, the inclusion of nine buttons is four too many. My hands are about average size for a male, and I find the nine button layout to be way too cramped. It’s pretty easy to use in your pocket with a little feeling around, but it becomes more of an issue when you are holding it viewing the screen. Ditching the Chat feature (more on why I hate this later) and putting a 5-way D-pad would have made the experience many times better.

Transferring Media

The Zen X-Fi is an MTP device. Anyone with Vista or an updated XP computer will be able to drag and drop. Linux and Mac are not officially supported, but they will work if the right hacks and libraries are installed. Otherwise any media player will do the trick for transferring content to your player: Windows Media Player, Napster, etc.

Creative has included a new media player which is not too different from their last one, but is now called Creative Centrale. It will manage your media like any other player and offers extended features like firmware updating and Outlook syncing for contacts and such. This media player will also allow you to convert video for the Zen X-Fi much better than Windows Media Player.

SD Memory

I’m not going to tip toe around this one: like the Zen, the Zen X-Fi’s memory slot’s integration is simply terrible. It does not integrate with the main memory so you can’t really call it an expansion slot. While you still can access media from the card, nearly all media features are absent. For example, you cannot use bookmarks, add to playlists, view details, remove file, or look up artists- all of which are available when playing from the internal memory. Additionally, you are confined to the current menu position when playing media from the card. If you back out, the media stops playing. Also, unlike any other MP3 player with a memory slot, both sets of memory do not show up on your computer at the same time; you need to set the card to “removable disk” then plug it into your computer.

There is a transfer memory card to internal memory feature. This may be useful for dumping your digital camera’s memory, but it’s not too helpful for other media because when you transfer the files, they go to the “transferred files” folder on the Zen X-Fi. Only photos can be viewed from this folder.

Overall, the SD slot gets a big “FAIL”.

Wireless

Connecting to a wireless access point is straight forward and allows connections to encrypted networks. The X-Fi will let you choose up to 10 access points ordered by connecting preferences. This is nice for using your player in different locations.

Media Server

Wi-Fi streaming of an entire library is one of the most useful Wi-Fi features. The set up was – well there was no set up, really. The Zen X-Fi immediately picked up all my computers on the network that were sharing media, including my Windows Home Server.

Keep in mind that it does work much like the SD memory card slot, missing most of the functionality, but you are able to download the media directly to your player. Unlike the SD card transfer, the media will go in the respective folder and be integrated into your main memory when downloaded. It is very slow on the download side taking around 3 min per album transferred.

Creative MediaBox

Creative MediaBox is a way to get pre-populated content from Creative’s servers. At this time it is really just a podcast repository, but it only contains major podcast content. For instance, CNet is one of two tech listings in the tech section. I do not know if Creative is planning on expanding this or is perhaps taking it to a different level to get quality music content. Even though it lacks in content, I think it’s in the right direction.

Much like the SD card slot, any kind of additional features are lost, and you cannot leave the current media since it will stop. The media is streamed directly from the server and cannot be downloaded. The absurdity of this, however, is that you cannot fast forward, reverse or bookmark anything from Creative’s MediaBox

Friends / Chat

When I first heard that Creative was including a chat feature, I thought that it was superfluous, but then considered that some might find it useful as a quick way to communicate with friends. Actually getting it in my hands and trying to operate it, I can’t help but call it a complete failure for anyone. Strong words I know, but let me break it down.

First off, you can only connect to Creative’s own chat network; you cannot connect to Yahoo!, MSN, or Gtalk. Creative is probably trying to roll out compatibility with other chat networks, but that still won’t fix the major concerns. Read on for the second, but biggest, issue.

I think the major chat killer here is the text input. Many have thought that it would be like a numeric input pad on a cell phone where you’d use a single button many times to select a letter. The Zen X-Fi works nothing like that. The directional keypad is used to move to each letter, and then the center button is used to toggle between the available letters. For instance if you want a capital “F” you must highlight the top right onscreen number then press the center button 6 times. On top of this there is no predictive text feature. Everything has to be spelled out.

The third issue is the fact that you cannot have a presence, meaning you cannot just be online for friends to send you a message. You can only be online while you are in the friends menu, and while there you can’t listen to music or use any of the other part of the player.

Last but not least, your real name, first and last, is displayed and is browse-able to the entire world. There is no way to avoid this other than to input fake information.

What really bothers me is that the hardware UI was sacrificed in order to implement this feature, which would have been changed very little if implemented with a 5 way D-pad.

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Features

Photo Viewer

Nothing has changed from the previous Zen players on the photo viewing side. You can easily browse photos in folders, lists, and thumbnails. You are also able to create and view slide shows to music.

Radio

Radio reception is poor. The autoscan feature is great, but it only picks up three stations where other players will pick up more than eight. A radio station I am only a few miles away from has static at times, which is totally unacceptable.

Voice Recording

Voice recording is the same as what is found on the Zen; files are saved as low quality WAV files. To use this as a voice note taker, you can easily map the short cut button to record quickly.

Organizer

The organizer feature remains the same as the previous Zen organizers. Using the Creative’s media player you can sync your contacts, calendar, and to-do list with Outlook or Windows Contacts.

Battery Life

Battery life is rated at 35 hours audio and five hours video. I tried to simulate average use by operating all of the Zen X-Fi features throughout the day and came up with 18.5 hours on a full charge. This was mostly audio, a little wi-fi and a little video. This might mean nothing, because there will be such a big swing in each person’s battery time due to the wi-fi and X-Fi sound enhancement features involved. Video ran to be a little over four hours.

Battery time for streaming from your computer is pathetic. It was right around three hours, so forget trying to stream video. [Update: I ran this test not knowing the hold switch will shut the screen off. I'm running another test for having the hold switch on and screen off] [Update2: The battery still only lasted between 4-5 hours doing strictly wi-fi music streaming with the screen off.]

Audio

Playlists / Bookmarks

Playlisting on the Zen X-Fi is the same as what you would find on most of the other players in the Zen family. This is good thing since it’s much more flexible than most players, allowing you to name and save many playlists on the go. Of course, as with any other player, you can manipulate and create playlists from any MTP based media player like Windows Media Player, Napster, Funky Monkey Media Player, and a hand full of others out there.

Bookmarks are always a welcome addition for long mixes and audio books. You can save up to ten bookmarks.

Sound Quality

The X-Fi sounds quite nice. I have been using it with my Shure SE530s and have no major complaints. Head to head against the Clip, for instance, it is still missing that low-end smoothness and the openness of the highs. Compared to the Cowon player’s they can probably run head to head, with Cowon edging out the Zen X-Fi slightly in general warmness. But if you are a fan of the EQ and sound enhancements, the Cowon players will win hands down against the X-Fi for the inclusion of a great EU and actually useful sound enhancements of BBE.

X-Fi Sound Enhancement

X-Fi is Creative’s sound enhancing technology that reshapes wave forms from lossless music, improving the overall sound quality. I have listened to the X-Fi technology before and found it to be pretty good despite it’s sounding a little bit on the synthetic side, but I could easily place it right behind my favorite BBE.

However, on the Zen X-Fi it sounds terrible, not much unlike other sound enhancement technologies. There are two settings, Crystallize and Expand. Crystallize sounds like an attempt at creating better sound stage. You can hear it trying to open up the music, but it just does a bad job. Instruments will separate and spread out, but they tend to get over exaggerated and polluted with a synthetic haze. I can best describe it as a slight warble. Expand, on the other hand, slightly improves low end response, but it sounds like you threw a towel over your speakers.

Testing both of these on the Shure SE530’s and my KRK RP5 studio monitors, these nuances and inaccuracies were very apparent. They were much less apparent on the included headphones, and on these the X-Fi sound enhancement didn’t make it sound bad per se, just different.

Creative recently updated the firmware to improve X-Fi sound enhancement. With the update, I would no longer say that the X-Fi Crystallize and Expand sounds terrible. When I tested crystallize with my Shure SE530s and KRK RP5 monitors I’m not sure i would call the change better, but different- like someone tweaked the EQ in the higher end of the spectrum. I didn’t really feel like it added or took anything away from the music. Now when I tested it again with the supplied headphones (EP-830) it was a slightly different story. I did hear some tracks marginally improved by X-Fi Crystallize. It was hit or miss and depended on the music. The X-Fi Expand was somewhat the same story, I don’t feel like it added anything either set of headphones- it just kind of veiled and shifted some of the lower frequencies.

What it comes down to is, “Does the X-Fi Crystallize and Expand add to the Zen X-Fi?” To me its not. Even if I used the supplied headphones, the improvement is not enough for me to continually adjust the setting for each type of music / track i listen to. Other listeners may find otherwise, however, expect marginal to moderate improvements- don’t expect to be blown away. My advice, leave it off, the Zen X-Fi sounds good without it.

BobbyRS, one of our Creative forum moderators, brought up a good point: X-Fi needs quite a bit of power in order to work properly, and one of Creative’s biggest problems was getting X-Fi to work on a portable device. He suggests that the X-Fi sound enhancement on the Zen X-Fi is likely an emulation or a truncated version of the technology – so you likely are not getting true X-Fi with this player.

Speaker

For a slot in the bottom of the player, the built-in speaker sounds very good. Granted, filling a room with sound is a stretch, but it will be very useful while holding it in your hand or while sitting at your desk. The speakers play clean and do not easily distort.

Video

You will find the same video experience with the Zen X-Fi as you did with the Zen. Overall it is a good experience. Video playback is smooth, not too different than what you would see on your computer LCD screen.

The X-Fi follows the same video type as the Zen, so most video must be transcoded to one of the accepted video codecs (WMV, MPEG4-SP, Divx 4/5, Xvid, and MJPEG). All of these are of 320×240 resolutions. Converting your videos is pretty easy with Creative Centrale.

Conclusion

Compared to the Zen, the build quality is improved, upgraded headphones are included, and the wireless feature works pretty well even though it really puts a drain on your battery. But that is as far as I will go as calling the new features improvements. X-Fi sound enhancement is not an improvement. Chat and Friends list is not an improvement and has hindered the button UI. These features are just flat-out poorly implemented.

The failure here was Creative tried to jam new “cool” features into the player and completely neglected other issues that have been brought up by Zen users – particularly the SD slot – but even Creative’s resources would have been better spent polishing up what was already there. It’s almost as if Creative just wanted more features to help sell the product.

The bottom line is the Zen X-Fi is a marginal improvement over the Zen. I like it, but I was very disappointed to see the poor implementation of the new features and lack of polish to the old. Putting aside expectations, I can still recommend the Zen X-Fi because despite the issues, it’s at a really
good price point.

Compare

Pros

  • Upgraded headphones included
  • Very good build quality
  • Good sound quality
  • Wireless Setup and Streaming is Easy

Cons

  • Weak FM Radio
  • Poor SD implementation
  • Chat is poorly implemented
  • Text input
  • Poor top down viewing angle
  • Emulated X-Fi

Purchase

You can pick up the Zen X-Fi at Amazon for the best price where you can usual score free shipping and avoid taxes.

97 Comments

keybowvio on July 19, 2008 11:45 PM

yet another sub-par player from Creative… Ohhh how they once were…

Plan303e on July 20, 2008 12:21 AM

Well that’s a shame. It’s now almost guaranteed that I’ll pick up a Cowon D2 before Summer’s end, unless some other player is just suddenly announced (and critically acclaimed).

Lobster08 on July 20, 2008 1:55 AM

another disappointment from Creative.

Michael on July 20, 2008 3:54 AM

The Creative Zen has gotten amazing reviews everywhere (including here, and on CNet), so if this is even a “marginal improvement” for the same price, it’s a good mp3 player, isn’t it?

Throttle on July 20, 2008 7:08 AM

The best bit about the release of this player is that the price of the original Zen has dropped further (£55/4GB; £70/8GB; £100/16GB on Amazon UK right now). Bargains.

Teklord on July 20, 2008 9:21 AM

Go Cowon D2, you won’t be disappointed IMO. This is a good DAP, but Cowon D2 is a GREAT DAP.

slaughter on July 20, 2008 9:37 AM

Creative has the money and resources to take back the #2 spot in DAPs, but fail to do so with each player they release. The Cons of this player are typical Creative. The M was their closest thing to a great player. I would really love to sit down with these guys and find out their motivation. Its not to seel cheap players like Sandisk and its not to compete with iPod. They are just floating along in DAP land. I love Creative products, but they always disappoint in multiple ways with their DAPs.

Evan on July 20, 2008 10:13 AM

It’s not disappointing because they are in line with their previous products. Good marketing, lacking in proper implementation + annoying flaws. My guess is there will be a Zen X-Fi Plus a few months down the line, pissing off users who rushed to buy the initial X-Fi. And then, two months further down there will be a newer similar product, again pissing off all previous users.The GOOD thing about Creative is that they are stirring up the competition, pushing prices down, and establishing new features. I hope Wi-Fi players become abundant.

swild on July 20, 2008 2:46 PM

This makes me genuinely sad. Too bad they couldn’t test out public opinion before they committed to a hopeless product. I think I’ll stick with my zvm. woohoo.

Joost on July 20, 2008 4:10 PM

Why creative, WHY??

LunarFlame17 on July 20, 2008 4:19 PM

It definitely seems like Creative is sliding downhill. Crappy memory card integration, crummy sound enhancement and a useless chat feature that messed up the button placement means that I will be staying far, far away from this one.

Feng on July 20, 2008 5:27 PM

this just means ill be looking torwards a sansa fuse or meizu m6 sl or se. UNLESS rockbox.org decides to throw a rock this way…i believe the full name was Xi-Fi and not just X-Fi so it prob is a downgrade on the original tech.creative would do soo much better if they had beta testing for their players like how phone companies beta test their cell phones before they go on the market or how software gaming companies have beta testing for their pc games….

Chris on July 20, 2008 5:57 PM

Thanks for the informative review. I’ll stick with my just purchased Zen 8Gig. It’s got enough features to keep me happy and I’m not too concerned about the card issues. Had some of the X-Fi’s features been better implemented, who knows?

foundation on July 20, 2008 10:40 PM

Wonder how long it takes for the White Screen of Death to show up on the new Zen? It seems to eventually infects every player of the previous generation.

Ben Doverton on July 20, 2008 11:48 PM

“I can’t help but call it a complete failure for anyone.”This describes your review more than the product.The player its self doesn’t seem to be that great. Zen 1.5 basically. If you wanted a Zen, here you go. If you didn’t, more reason than ever to stay away.In short, the race for 3rd party go-to MP3 player is STILL open.

KYPMbangi on July 21, 2008 1:05 AM

Gonna stick to my zen-w. Big screen and no-convert hassle for video lovers.

Baines93 on July 21, 2008 2:18 AM

Thats a disappointment, however i wasnt going to upgrade my d2 even if it was better. — I will be sticking with my D2 and would do even if i had the money to upgrade. Utterly disappointing as SD seems rubbish, No web browser, X-fi isnt too great, UI is ok, but buttons would let down browsing the web if it supported it, let alone chatting with it! — Wi-fi streaming and syncing is the only feature i like apart from the design. — No DAB/DMB model means the only thing this has that the d2 doesnt and could do with IMO is the Wi-fi… — Maybe a D3 would bring a browser, and wireless sync, flash apps with wi-fi etc. Thats something i would sell the d2 and dig into my car fund savings for! — And X-Fi

Dennis on July 21, 2008 4:37 AM

After seeing the X-FI on Creative website, I planned to buy one.Went to BEST CONNECTION and manhandled the new X-FI in Singapore last week.I found the control buttons to be unintuitive and cramped – nothing like Sony’s nwz-a726 – which in my view sets the standards.Volume controls are not on the sides of the player – a real drawback.Decided not to go ahead with the buy, even though the price is right – at around SGD210.

hiro_pro on July 21, 2008 9:43 AM

Did creative improve the bookmarking? a major complaint about the zen is the bookmarking. if you have a book that is broken into many smaller files and bookmark it where you leave off then when you continue from the bookamrk it will only play that track. the zen does not save the whole playlist in the bookmark just the location on the individual track. when you finish the track you have to again find the book in your library and start playing the next track yourself. this a real pain if you are working out or driving.

jojo on July 21, 2008 9:46 AM

can you play video direct from the sd card? how about the usual control like pause, forward and stop is it present when you play it from the sd card?

Arthur on July 21, 2008 9:48 AM

no thanks, I’m sticking with my Zen Vision M.

chris gault on July 21, 2008 10:34 AM

To JoJo’s question.Yeah .. you can play vids from the SD card but if your player goes to sleep while paused while playing from the SD card it looses it’s place.

Christina on July 21, 2008 12:23 PM

I have ordered one of these players. From my perspective, it is a very good buy, and it does all that I want it to do. It is a flash player, which means I can handle it as I handle everything else I own (I’m a little rough on things). That was the only reason I did not get the vision m. It was HDD. I liked the external speaker idea on the zen wav, but of course the implementation of that player was poor. I think that Zen is going in the right direction with its players, it’s just going to take them a while to get to that “sweet spot” that apple has already found for themselves. (And as I’m not a fan of Apple’s “sweet spot” myself, I hope Creative gets their act together soon)

Jim on July 21, 2008 12:29 PM

So, no SD integration, no video out at 480i resolution like the ZVM and no audio line out so it can play over a car stereo or home entertainment system?Pass.I’ll make do with the aging ZVM, then maybe I’ll get a Zune or simply pop a, by then, 64gb compact flash card into the ZVM.

Christina on July 21, 2008 12:41 PM

@ JimI might be mistaken, but you could just use an av cable that plugs into the headphone jack. I have done it before with mine. The only problem being that you would need the aux port on your car stereo, which probably wouldn’t exist on older cars. But I should think it would work on home entertainment systems.

Jim on July 21, 2008 12:59 PM

Thanks for the heads up Christina.But that’s an amped source, not as good as a real line out. Even nanos and the tiny ipod shuffles have a line out through their dock connectors. As did Creative’s ZVM and the smaller Zen Microphotos.Ah well.It’s looking more and more that I’ll get a Zune, though I hate that their software is such a CPU and RAM hog.

Christina on July 21, 2008 1:17 PM

I can’t pretend to know a lot about the zune, but as an idiot on the subject, it does seem that microsoft is trying really hard for this to work. So hard that perhaps it’s not quite up to par with some of the other players out there.Just saying. Heh. I would never get a Zune, but maybe it will be better eventually.

Jim on July 21, 2008 2:19 PM

Christina, I hear you on the Zune. I also am not crazy about how locked down of a player it is, I think even more so than Apple’s players.If not a Zune, then I hear that there will be a 64gb flash Touch, in place of the HDD 80gb Classic which I also read is going to be discontinued, in time for this holiday season.64gb is more than enough memory for me and especially on that interface.

mgrade on July 21, 2008 2:48 PM

Id been looking for a new higher capacity player ever since my screen burst on my old zen vision:M. After months of waiting and researching i finally settled on the D2 but decided to wait to see what Creative had up there sleeves since I absolutely loved my vision:M and my zen v plus. Once the 16gb D2 came out I decided to just go ahead and get it. Well D2FTW!! I still have my zen vision M with its busted screen, so maybe I will get that fixed one day but I absolutely love my D2 and as far as coming out with a product that would make me wish I had waited, Creative has dropped the ball on that one.

mgrade on July 21, 2008 2:51 PM

Id been looking for a new higher capacity player ever since my screen burst on my old zen vision:M. After months of waiting and researching i finally settled on the D2 but decided to wait to see what Creative had up there sleeves since I absolutely loved my vision:M and my zen v plus. Once the 16gb D2 came out I decided to just go ahead and get it. Well D2FTW!! I still have my zen vision M with its busted screen, so maybe I will get that fixed one day but I absolutely love my D2 and as far as coming out with a product that would make me wish I had waited, Creative has dropped the ball on that one.

graeme on July 21, 2008 3:37 PM

No mention in the review of whether it does gapless playback. Come on guys – that’s absolutely critical to some of us! I’m guessing not…

Jim on July 21, 2008 4:10 PM

Personally, I still think a used Zen Vision M or W, usually found locally via craigslist, is one of the best ways to go for a solid all around media player. Many players today don’t even have the full feature list of those two four year old players from Creative.While taking the name of this site into consideration, the Touch is one of the better players out there as well; two members of my family already have the 32gb ones.If they ever do put out the 64gb version this year, it’ll be the death knell of the HDD Zune 80. Knowing MS and their history with PlaysForSure, I can see them giving it the heave-ho if sales don’t pick up.

Grahm on July 21, 2008 4:11 PM

@graemeNo Gapless, sorry =\

Shareholder on July 21, 2008 8:11 PM

ABI needs to re-review Zen X-fi again. Some people who bought it from Amazon found that the new firmware has improved and addressed some or all X-fi problems.

spata on July 22, 2008 6:07 AM

what firmwere did you use when you did this review? i heard that if you upgrade the firmware to the newest, x-fi effect would sound much better…. like what shareholder said..

Luke on July 23, 2008 7:34 AM

the body colors strikingly resemble the insignia pilot.pretty interesting player, but looks lke creative still can’t get out of their slump.

Dee on July 23, 2008 7:05 PM

I’m no expert on predicting the consumer market but I really don’t think creative gets it. Just looking at the player is really intimidating with all the buttons and good products should be made with ease of use in mind. The problem is that apple unleashed a web browser on the touch and playing the game 2 steps ahead of the rest of the digital music player market.

Sal on July 23, 2008 8:09 PM

is it worth an upgrade if you already have a zen?

TimothyT on July 23, 2008 8:44 PM

I see a comment asking whether is is worth an upgrade if you already have a zen. I would say the zen is even BETTER than the zen-X-Fi.1.It has an external speaker. The only reason I don’t use my cell phone as an mp3 is because if the wire gets pulled out by mistake, music starts playing immediately. Does this occur with the zen-xfi? Don’t know, but it wouldn’t with the original zen because there is no speaker. Problem solved.2.Wireless? Chat? Garbage. Get rid of it. And you have the original zen!That is all. There is nothing better about this. I am so sad creative went downhill, I thought the vision:M was incredible so that’s why I bought the zen (not x-fi). I was disappointed with that too. I guess Cowon is my only hope.

WizzX on July 24, 2008 10:17 AM

my greatest disappointment is letting go my zen vision:m… that was simply all out a great player…..I don’t know what kind of half axed crap dem selling now… no SD integration?! are they serious, did they not hear how many people complained about d zen?! n why would i need to chat to friends on this!? majority of peeps hav a phone or laptop for that already… complete n utter waste of time…..They aren’t even trying anymore

colaman on July 24, 2008 6:32 PM

I own both the Zen and Zen X-Fi (I gave my girlfriend my Zen after I bought the X-Fi model) and I think X-Fi is worth the upgrade. The MAIN reason I bought it was for the X-Fi technology. I have the xtrememe gamer card in my PC and I love how it sounds. It really makes a difference, and I rip all my music in vbr 0/320kbts with EAC. I’m sure there are some people out there that think X-Fi is crap or whatever, and most of those are people who use onboard soundcards for their PC and have no idea how well X-Fi works. To me, all the other features (external speaker, chat, etc) are cool to have, but I can do without them. I bought this mp3 player for quality sound and thats what I got. Also, it seems like every post out there complains about the lack of SD intergration. Who cares? If the SD slot wasn’t there, would you have anything to complain about? Ya know, Creative didnt have to put it there in the first place. But oh yeah, you can spend $200 more on a 16GB mp3 player to get internet, check your email, and make your music look pretty, but isnt that a lot of money to spend on something which was invented originally to simply play mp3s? And where is the SD slot on those players to expand your memory? Oh I forgot,there isn’t one….

Grahm Skee on July 24, 2008 7:17 PM

I updated the section on the X-Fi sound enhancements since the firmware update addressing the quality.

Rod on July 24, 2008 9:43 PM

I bought 2 of these as I was looking for an 8gig that used drag n drop. The other features they touted sucked me in so I got two… One 4 me and One 4 my son. I don’t need wifi or pictures just music (mp3 and fm).It sounds like if I can get the latest firmware updates I will be ok .however I am not a tech person …how do I do that? can someone offer some help on the latest firmware ie: how to install and where to get it?ThxRod

AFSlug on July 27, 2008 6:28 PM

Yeah, EMULATED X Fi, they wannna make us believe the Zen X Fi has a X Fi chip inside or something. Only some “crystalizer” effects by software proccesing. The SOund of Perfection belongs to Sony Walkman

Aaron on July 30, 2008 6:10 AM

I’ve given up on Creative. I bought an 80gb Zune 3 days ago and I haven’t looked back.Way to cannibalize your own hardware lineup and alienate your loyal customers, Creative!

Narg on July 31, 2008 2:14 PM

Can someone explain to me why the “disappointment” posts about this player? It sounds really nice to me, especially for a company that has tech support IN the USA (instead of India, *cough*apple*cough)

Bryan on July 31, 2008 3:51 PM

When did creative update the firmware for the X-Fi? I bought mine on 7-30-08 so will it be updated

Alex on July 31, 2008 5:20 PM

Dude, is that John Malkovich talking on the video?

Nathan on August 1, 2008 9:57 PM

I just bought the 32 gb zen x-fi, and returned it after 3 days.The UI was a joke & hard to navigate. The software that came with it? Pathetic. the 9 keys? retarded design. The player also froze on me 4 times, and the only way I was able to erase everything, was to format the disk. POS. stay away. They need alot of work on this thing.

Nathan on August 1, 2008 9:58 PM

I just bought the 32 gb zen x-fi, and returned it after 3 days.The UI was a joke & hard to navigate. The software that came with it? Pathetic. the 9 keys? retarded design. The player also froze on me 4 times, and the only way I was able to erase everything, was to format the disk. POS. stay away. They need alot of work on this thing.

Nathan on August 1, 2008 10:04 PM

I just bought the 32 gb zen x-fi, and returned it after 3 days.The UI was a joke & hard to navigate. The software that came with it? Pathetic. the 9 keys? retarded design. The player also froze on me 4 times and i had to do a reset when it turned back on. The software that came with it automatically loaded whatever files were in the “my videos” and “my pictures” and “my music” folders. I have like 200 gb between all 3 folders. So my player was instantly loaded with crap. The video converter was crap to. it took my avi’s and cut the resolution in half. But the speaker worked well. The only way I was able to erase everything, was to format the disk. POS. stay away. They need alot of work on this thing.In theory, everything seems great about this player, except for the obvious SD slot shortcomings. But in reality, its not worth the effort.

Passion on August 2, 2008 6:00 AM

abi, I understand that there has been another X-Fi firmware update which as significantly improved audio quality. Is it possible to update your review?

mimi on August 4, 2008 7:12 PM

I’m definitely sticking to my Zen. When I initially saw this new product I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t waited longer for this new mp3 player with cool wireless capabilities but after reading this review and watching the detailed video on the actual product design I was really turned off. I’m very happy with my Zen and it’s a bit sad that they bring out new players that aren’t close to 100% on everything. It still needs a lot of improvements.

mimi on August 4, 2008 7:14 PM

I’m definitely sticking to my Zen. When I initially saw this new product I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t waited longer for this new mp3 player with cool wireless capabilities but after reading this review and watching the detailed video on the actual product design I was really turned off. I’m very happy with my Zen and it’s a bit sad that they bring out new players that aren’t close to 100% on everything. It still needs a lot of improvements.

James116 on August 6, 2008 11:46 AM

Out of interest has anyone tried fitting/adapting the cover plate from the Zen to the Zen X-Fi. I’m terribly divided over whether it was worth getting(Even with crappy X-Fi implementation I was sold until I read about the terrible SD card implementation) and being able to get rid of that insane 9-button setup would be a lot nicer.What happened to the days of the 60GB Zen Jukebox! Why will no-one compete in size with Apple these days >.

temp-poster on August 10, 2008 5:51 AM

Hi all,Creative have still not surpassed (or even equalled?) the spec and performance of the late great JB3!!! Cool looking it ain’t but sonically the JB3 is still a brilliant performer today.C ya soon….

hehehe on August 11, 2008 4:19 AM

is the built in speaker loud ?

nghi on August 13, 2008 9:28 PM

can you copy “dvd movies” to Zen X-file (I have a Zen V plus but I can’t copy any movies that last than “1 hour”)

Elysiumfire on August 23, 2008 7:52 PM

Colaman raises the pertinent issue regarding mp3 players…and that is, they were designed to play music, and that’s it.Converging technologies for the sake of convenience onto the same product is detrimental to such product for what it was originally designed to do.In the end, I suppose it is what floats one’s boat, and I suppose, it is why Creative brought out the non-wifi, non-internet, 8GB X-FI? I would expect, however, the absence of such trivial impriorities like wifi and internet access on the 8GB, would have allowed better engineering for audio quality?Audio quality would win for me every time, and I suspect, it would be the same for others?If I want wifi or internet access or if I want to contact my friends, I’ll use my phone.MP3 players are more about music, let the engineering go into that, and that alone.

Ian Clark on August 25, 2008 5:39 PM

I think Elysiumfire raised a good point here – I believe that the amounting pressure on companies to compact and to combine electronics into one ultimate device can most definitely deviate from the ultimate goal of the device – to play music.Having said this I think that this is an exciting time for electronics – I certainly remember the release of the first “laptop” computers not so long ago, and to see the progression is truly stunning. Equally so, I think the progress of Apple with their iPod ranges and the apparent functionality simply raises the pressure on the smaller companies such as Creative to keep up.It seems fairly obvious from the reviews on the net that the X-Fi lacks the qualities promised by Creative, which is a disappointment. Having said this, I strongly believe that simple Firmware upgrades could give rise to more impressive Wireless functionality, how complex would a T9 implementation or a Mobile Phone-like text really be?The “Plus” range is likely to appear in the next few months, which I’m sure will be somewhat annoying for those who have already purchased – but I strongly feel we could have a strong competitor of the Vision:M in the near future.

Monty on August 28, 2008 2:15 AM

I think the Zen x-fi is a good player, but probably not worth the upgrade if you already have a different model. And yea they didn’t implement all the features too well, but maybe they’ll come out with a patch to fix all that. Still a great player!

Correzpond on August 30, 2008 11:11 PM

Keep in mind that Creative is after all a Singaporean company. Sydney based, I have spent a lot of time working in Singapore over the last 8 years (incidentally just across the road from their HQ in Jurong East) and have picked up quite a few Creative mp3 players (usually at factory sell-out prices over the years). The Vision M is certainly their best player to date, but even as a non-iPod owner, I have to acknoweledge that it was successful essentially because Creative meticulously copied the implementation of Apple with a consistently enhanced feature set (if you like it is the ‘IPod Classic Plus’). Singaporeans are meticulous and adaptive but they are not particularly known for innovation or novel strategy. And certainly Singapore is not known for Customer Service, indeed the importance of Customer Service barely registers with most Singaporean businesses except as a simple means to an ends. The idea that customer research might actually lead to the development of better products is a concept that most Singaporean businesses are yet to embrace. For readers of this forum expecting the type of quantum shift in innovation (the type which Apple regularly displays & which frequently drives the entire industry to a whole new level), I suggest that you should be looking elsewhere other than Creative.

Correzpond on August 30, 2008 11:37 PM

Keep in mind that Creative is after all a Singaporean company. Sydney based, I have spent a lot of time working in Singapore over the last 8 years (incidentally just across the road from their HQ in Jurong East) and have picked up quite a few Creative mp3 players (usually at factory sell-out prices over the years). The Vision M is certainly their best player to date, but even as a non-iPod owner, I have to acknoweledge that it was successful essentially because Creative meticulously copied the implementation of Apple with a consistently enhanced feature set (if you like it is the ‘IPod Classic Plus’). Singaporeans are meticulous and adaptive but they are not particularly known for innovation or novel strategy. And certainly Singapore is not known for Customer Service, indeed the importance of Customer Service barely registers with most Singaporean businesses except as a simple means to an ends. The idea that customer research might actually lead to the development of better products is a concept that most Singaporean businesses are yet to embrace. For readers of this forum expecting the type of quantum shift in innovation (the type which Apple regularly displays & which frequently drives the entire industry to a whole new level), I suggest that you should be looking elsewhere other than Creative.

Bethany Nelson on September 4, 2008 4:50 AM

Does this devise work with Rhapsody? Can you use the wi-fi to connect directly to Rhapsody like the Ibiza Rhapsody?? Trying to decide between this and the Sansa Fuse.Thanks.

john on September 28, 2008 10:31 AM

hi there was going to buy the creative x fi but reading all these bad reports i dont know what to do ,can you sugest a good mp3 player that sounds good along with videos and photos not bothered about wi fi thank you j

bee2 on October 11, 2008 7:07 PM

hi guys, i just bought a zen x-fi and its file management bothering me alot, in my old Creative Muvo, i can put my music files wherever i want and it works, with this zen, its not.anyone know which folder i can create my own music folders and store them?thanks

Jared on November 6, 2008 10:08 AM

I bought this product after reading some positive reviews on the net. At first it seemed like a sleek little machine. It was also priced extremely well considering the amount of features. The sound was slick as the reviews stated but the player could not adequately drive my Seinheiser headphones. there were some issues with adequate bass reproduction.Though it did sound great with the included in-ear headphones.Unfortunately It crashed twice on me within 3 days of purchase. One time when using the FM radio (that had poor reception and the other time whilst playing audio). The USB cable is like a sick joke. I dont see why they cant provide one that is at least 3 inches long. The video platform is dubious at best. Yes, it supports AVI but the videos have to be reset to a new resolution. This means that you have to use the included software that takes longer than 30 minutes to convert one full length film. I had no luck at all with my Mp4 vids. The software also it net crazy, meaning that every time I pluged the player into my cpu {after installing the conversion software} I had pop up windows wanting to download updates. The usb transfer speed was also very slow in comparison to my older I Audio F2.I wanted to stick with it but two crashes within 3 days isnt good enough. Its like a mini cpu rather than an MP player. It has that cpu feel to it when you start it up and shut it down. I think Creative had good intentions but they ended up with quantity over quality. Too many features and not enough stability and common sense. Good luck if you decide to purchase.

simonsaysyes on November 8, 2008 6:46 PM

I mustsay a personal gripe with the video reviews.Why spend so much time comparing size and there is 1mm difference in thickness wowAm I interested nopeBringing out mp3 player after mp3 player. Please move on andget to the functionality of the mp3 player being reviewed

Al7lister11 on December 1, 2008 12:55 PM

I had a creative zen vision w. It broke recently and I need to replace it with the same thing or something like it. I like the feel of the zen w. I like the radio, video, and music qualities of the player. I want to get something that has at least all of the features of the zen w (except screen size). I need something preferably smaller. I was thinking of getting a zen x-fi, but it seems to get bad reviews.Should I buy another zen vision w, or is there something better?

Pavan on December 5, 2008 11:17 AM

After reading all the reviews and being a loyal creative fan, I went ahead with my purchase.. the hardware is crappy.. The only good thing about the player are its earphones and nothing else. The sound emulation is gimmick. the wifi is extremely bad and I could not get past the agreement terms in public hotspots. The power button is on the rear; made of plastic and the colour came off making it all the more sad.. finally one of the nine buttons broke on me and luckily it wasn’t past 20 days.. Just returned the unit yesterday for a full refund.. Now Iam curious if I should wait for a while before making a decision or if I should try the Cowon D2 as it looks more promising and all it might need is some good earphones..

Ayumi on December 8, 2008 2:14 PM

I just got the x-fi 16gb and just wanted to say that it does allow you to connect to both yahoo and msn chat. So it does both the creative network and those two. Also there is a choice between two diff keyboard/ text input methods.

MrWaffles on December 18, 2008 9:24 PM

Regardless of the issues the x fi has it is far better than the nano chromatic which is also filled with useless feature. Shake to shuffle? how stupid. Although there is no sd card intergration in the xfi at least there is an sd card slot. You don’t have to use it. Same as the xfi enhancements. You don’t have to use them either.Yes creative needs to get back to their prime and stop producing sub-par mp3 players but the xfi is very good value for the money and is still better than an ipod.

MrWaffles on December 21, 2008 5:55 PM

I own a 32gb zen x fi and find it to be nearly as good as the zen vision m this player gets alot of bad press….mostly from this site.It isn’t that bad!I would recommend it over any ipod.

RussyJ on December 22, 2008 10:41 AM

I’ve had my 32gb Zen X-Fi for a few weeks now, and I would like to address a few points brought up by this site.Firstly, the SD card slot – yes, an absolute pain if you’re trying to run audio off of it, however I’ve found that it was intended for videos. I’ve put all my music into the device itself, so its integrated into the library, and i run all videos/movies off of the SD card. No problems there, unless you need ot pause a movie to fiddle around with some menu settings, however that’s something I’ve only really encountered once.Secondly the inbuilt speaker. Initially, i thought this a pointless idea, but in fact i’ve use it a lot more than I would anticipate. Excellent for any situation where headphones are not appropriate and you have no other speakers (I use mine while I take a shower or bath). The trick is to stand the player up on its bottom edge (so the speaker is facing the surface/table), it improves amplification and gives it a slightly more rounded sound. Obviously not as good as active speakers (and not a touch on a hifi setup), but excellent when you do not have these alternatives handy.Thirdly the expander – yes, it does work! More pronounced with my shure SE110′s than the stock headphones, but the effect of bringing the source away from your ears is excellent when listening to live recorded audio, such as Metallicas “S&M” Orchestral Concert, or simon and Garfunkels “Concert in Central Park”. Sounds excellent with acoustic guitar based tracks too.Finally, the X-Fi crystaliser. Let me start by saying it is highly sensitive to encoding quality – dont even try and play anything at less than 128kbps with it engaged, the cymbal crashes become almost unbearable. That said, most my music is recorded as 256 or 320, with which it sounds excellent. On the stock headphones (which, while better than most bundled headphones, are muddy and bass-heavy at best, and would never be a consideration if I had to actually spend money on these alone), it cleans up the wave form excellently, however a small part of me suspects the way the x-fi and these headphones interact is no accident, as Creative know that most basic users will neglect this simple, important upgrade.Where the X-Fi feature comes into its own is when it is run into a Hi-fi system. While I run CD’s through my hi-fi most of the time, the versatility of my zen in building playlists will often mean that this is used, unless I plan to “experience” a whole CD start to finish. With the X-fi off, the sound quality is excellent, making anything but a cowon or toshiba sound like a broken tape-deck. With it on however, the sound difference is VERY noticable, and brings the sound quality forward leaps and bounds. It works well across a range of music, however it shows its strength when used with minimal house music. For those not familiar, this is a stripped-down version of electro house, focussing on a steady bass rhythm with some mid-high riffs over the top, with essentially nothing in between. Here the name crystaliser seems appropriatie, because the music comes to the point where to all but a well trained ear it could be described as crystal clear. I am excepetionally happy with its performance. The Zen X-Fi has impressed me much more than I would have thought possible. An excellent device, especially if you can get hold of it at around $170 or below.(NB: my view of X-Fi is with the origional firmware. I upgraded to the “improved” X-Fi, and found it far too bright, and the bass frequencies seemed to be raised into mid-bass frequencies, which was brilliant for anything acoustic, but anything even semi-reliant on pronounced bass was destroyed.)

JanU on January 2, 2009 4:49 AM

I really hate the feeling that i wasted money on this crap. No more “creative” for me – ever – period.- Software – Why doesnt it just show up as a disk so i can drag n drop- SD Extension – what a stupid design- Shitty screen gets scratched very easy.- Sound is below average quality.- Radio – works, but not very good- Menu system – Did they make it non-user friendly on purposeJan

Charlie on January 12, 2009 6:00 AM

I got an 8GB X-Fi last month. I found that the battery drains off its power so quick. I shut off the plyer after fully charged and left it for 2 days . . . and all the power has gone.Does anyone have the same problem and know how to solve it?

Gadget on January 20, 2009 10:39 PM

I want to buy something. I do not want an ipod…but i am getting close to wanting the ipod touch.I would like a divice that has good sound…video is nice and wireless…bluetooth. User replaceable battery (hopefully) and an expansion card slot.I want to be able to also use on a home entertainment center…stream to speakers etc.what is good? you can send me an email to: scash@usa.net and please put anything but ipod in the subject line so i will know it is not any spam…thank you

Bruce Warren on February 1, 2009 2:06 PM

If you want a Creative Zen that works reliably, the Zen X-Fi might be for you. I bought a Zen, which kept freezing up with the WSD (White Screen of Death). Then I found that most people seemed to have the same problem. So when I replaced it (immediately), I almost didn’t try the Zen X-Fi. But I took a risk, and mine has had no freezing up problems, certainly not the WSD.Yes, the player is a little thicker than the old Zen. The space is taken (I suppose) with the built-in speaker. The speaker is not loud enough for environments with any noise unless you forgot your earphones and want to hold it right up to your ear. But is nice to have in a pinch.Some don’t like the array of nine buttons. If you ignore the corner buttons, then it operates just like the Zen or many other MP3 players (select/play, up/down volume, left/right fast fwd/rev). So it is more a visual/mental hang-up than an ergonomic problem.I don’t use the X-Fi sound feature, since it is software trickery and there are lots of mixed reviews as to whether it sounds like real music or not. Since this is the 8GB model, it doesn’t have wireless, which is just fine by me. I wouldn’t have any real use for it anyway. (Some report that their X-Fi player sometimes freezes when using the wireless mode.)The out-of-box sound is very good, and you won’t be disappointed unless you are a die-hard audiophile. Then you should go with Sony or Cowon players. The supplied earphones are a bit nicer than most, though a little bloated and muddy in the lower end, and not as clear as I would like in the top end. My Sennheiser PX100 headphones handle the highs and the full spectrum more nicely, though still a little too warm and bloated in the upper bass. But that is more about the phones than the player.The screen is well done and nicely sized. Though I’d like to see some video on a AMOLED screen (like Iriver or Samsung) and see how it handles motion pans.The photo viewer is nice with some nice features. A few options for viewing photo slideshows. You can load it with photos of higher resolution and then it allows you to zoom in on details in any part of the photo. Kind of cool, though I haven’t decided if it is actually useful or just a gimmick to wow you. I guess, with a 2.5”screen you can’t always see the details and might want to zoom in without running back to your PC to view the full-res photo. Also if you choose a photo as your wallpaper, it asks you how dark you want the photo to be, which is trick and convenient, since you need dark desktop wallpaper in order to read your on-screen printing.Some may find this geeky, but I also like the View Details menu (like Properties menu) for music and photos, which comes in handy sometimes. Music/Podcasts show: track#, title, artist, album, genre, year, duration, play count, format, resolution. Photos show resolution, file size, when the photo was created, exposure/ASA/flash info. I wish my wife’s Sony (NWZ-S639) had half this info.I listen to a lot of podcasts and find that this handles them better than most because it allows you to bookmark up to 10 podcasts (or songs for that matter), so you can resume it later. I do wish that Podcasts were located in a different menu option than Music. You have to choose the Podcast or Zencast genre in the Music/Genre menu.After much experimentation, Itunes is still the only software tool that handles podcasts properly (name, album, artist, description, release date, etc. properly). So, while the Zencast software does a pretty good job otherwise, several podcasts are handled properly as I would like. So, I subscribe and manage podcasts with Itunes. I use MediaMonkey (free) to read what Itunes has done and to sync with the Zen. Zencast does a better job than MediaMonkey’s Podcast subscriptions, or than MyPodder by PodcastReady, or others I’ve tried (haven’t tried J. River Media Center), but none are as consistent as Itunes, unfortunately.

narra on February 6, 2009 9:04 PM

Hi. So is there anyway the zen-xfi will ever be able to connect to the internet? cheers

Flyordie on February 9, 2009 8:04 AM

Some discrepancies I have noticed that should probably be corrected…1. Radio is good, the earbuds act as the antenna, which I clearly do not see the earbuds plugged in.Thats all.. lol.The player itself is kinda heavy, bulky when compared to my Zune 4GB. Although I no longer use the Zune due to the size restriction of that model I bought…I got this player on sale for $149.99 so it was a very good deal for it being 16GB. I also use this with TVersity but it only gives me about 3-4hrs of battery life (even at 30% LCD Brightness).

Onne on March 24, 2009 1:46 PM

Well, I bought the 16MB X-FI rather than any other player due to the following:1. I have a Napster subscription and needed a compatible player (So no iPod, Zune, Cowon…)2. I don’t trust touch screen (So no Samsung P2, P3…)3. I thought the music streaming from my desktop is neat, and would save me the need to upload 20GB of music to the player (so no Sansa View)After seven solid days of trying to get the streaming to work properly, which almost cost me my marriage (I had to listen to “you love that mp3 player more than your daughter”…) I conclude it is simply a cruel joke. I tried it on three computers, desktop and two laptops, both Vista and XP, with two different networks. The streaming would start, and then stop; buffering would take forever; all my media would suddenly disappear and I would have to reinstall the program; my licenses to play Napster got messed up; it was a week of hell.I returned it to Amazon, took my wife to a romantic date, and am considering a 32GB Sansa now.

John P on April 4, 2009 10:12 AM

Not read all the reviews but the real downer in this is the TERRIBLE software. Creative Centrale is appalling to use, totally non instinctive. I’ve had mine three weeks and it’s still just a confusing mess. Don’t buy this.

stolennomenclature on April 5, 2009 11:59 PM

Can you play tracks off the SD card in shuffle (random) mode, and skip tracks you dont want to hear while in this mode?

Liam Sharpe on April 8, 2009 11:43 AM

well to be honest your all idiots. this player is a great.the sound quality is excellent and video play back is smooth and sharp. this a was a great buy and i have not regreted it.the creative control is not a ‘jumbled mess’ and only thick people would find it that.

jas on April 11, 2009 12:10 PM

can extend mmc?sd card 16 gb?

joe on May 1, 2009 1:26 PM

Bought zen x-fi on 26th Apr. Today is 1st May. It is dead, cannot switch it on. I used the recording feature once on 29th April. Now have to take it back to ths shop and fix it. You are lucky if you are still thinking to buy zen x-fi.

Alex on June 21, 2009 8:22 AM

I bought this player in november last year and i have not had any problems with it at all, i got what i paid for, a great sounding MP3 player that also plays video in very good detail, now i would like to make a few points about the player,1, I think russyj made some very good points in his review about the sound quality, i am running the lastest firmware and use the xfi crystalizer for some of my mp3s but not all, i have the eq set to Acoustic and bass boost on and i have to say the majority of my music sounds fantastic with these settings, i also use Expander with trance music and it does make a differance by highlighting the bass(it stiil sounds a bit cloudy though) perhaps another firmware update could fix this? so i think its a case of playing with the players sound settings, i also use the Zen Aurvana in-ear buds and they are brilliant! got them on play.com, the zen xfi sounds so much better with them, again a lot of complaints about the sound quality might be helped by upgrading the headphones if possible.2,Putting video on this thing is pretty easy i have a few Family Guys on it so far and they look great, really crisp and colourful with no stutter, i use danisoft media pro for conversion and wmv format for the player.3,I drag and drop mp3 files to my zen xfi using windows media player, it sees the device no problem and syncs very quickly with just a quick inital set up, i have not used creative central so cant comment on its performance but wmp and danisoft work well for me,So just a basic rundown of the zen xfi and the simplist way i have found to use its features, for the price, i use the 8 g at £97.00 on play.com it in my mind cant be beaten.

Jonathan on July 11, 2009 5:24 PM

I love this player. It’s a big step up in sound quality from my old ZEN Jukebox for the meager $90 I paid for it. Wanted a COWON D2+ but I’m on a very strict budget. BEWARE though! I have had the same problem a few others here and in the newegg reviews have had. A small percentage of the players were undoubtedly made with faulty parts and WILL FAIL within the first couple weeks of usage. Luckily mine failed exactly after 2 weeks usage. One day I shut it down and it simply refuses to turn back on. Black screen… no charging lights at all when connected… Tried the whole reset button combo thing with no results. It’s a goner. Contacting Newegg monday to take advantage of their 30 day warranty. Hopefully I get lucky and get a properly made player this time because it’s perfect for me… I hate these MP3 player headaches but I just can;t afford the best right now.

Gilbert on September 18, 2009 10:52 AM

I’m thinking of upgrading my Zen Vision M…It has served me well and it’s time to move on…=)I received this mailer showing that ZEN X-Fi 32GB and 16GB is on promotion now at Creative Labs UK.. that’s like £39.99 in savings!http://uk.store.creative.com/premiummusic/I’m going to order it once my paycheck comes in!

Kristin on October 1, 2009 4:06 AM

I have a Zen X-Fi . I’ve owned several different brands over the years, and I have to say, this thing is my favorite. The battery life lasts forever for me, the sound quality is great, the built-in speaker is very useful. I love this thing!My only issue is typing on the chat server, the way the keys are set up to type is horrible, but it works.

ashiiya on October 22, 2009 12:42 PM

Although I liked the Zen better, the X-Fi was also pretty good. I liked how it wasn’t too skinny (as with many Creative players are and I respect them for that) and they usually have relatively low price points.I never minded their habit of making players “feel cheap”. Even if it really does, it had this strange power to feel like it had some good quality at the same time. I actually found it comfortable, and it keeps the price down ^^

raffraffraff on January 4, 2010 6:56 PM

The sound quality is good. Creative don’t really have a particular standard for M4a, so it’s pot luck whether your files play or not. Some of my files were encoded in iTunes, some in Nero’s fantastic AAC encoder, and some I bought on the internet in m4a format. The vast majority of these files simply won’t play. I hate the way Creative insist on including awful software and forcing you to use it. It’s a total waste of their time and mine. Why can’t you just drag-and-drop music onto it like you would an external disk? I already have an application that I use for organising music, so I don’t want another inferior one.Anyway, I ditched this thing in favour of a decent phone with 16GB SD card. MUCH better.

Teech on January 21, 2010 8:21 AM

I agree with most of the review – ditch the chat and integrate the sd card – otherwise a great, compact, well priced and reliable player. However there is no mention of the “Creative Centrale” software supplied.This is quite frankly the most appalling piece of software I have ever had the misfortune to use. Simply put the disk in the recycling – you will eventually anyway.How a company like Creative can let themselves down with this beggars belief and it is way worse than the previous Zen software which is incompatible with the current version.I can’t help but feel that with a little more effort and by listening to users and correcting the criticisms of the previous version this could have been a stunning player.Still knocks spots off an ipod though!

Chris on January 30, 2010 11:26 AM

Terrible company. Look on line for the reviews of products crashing / freezing / dying and the company basically telling cusomters “F U” About half the people I know of who bought a Creative wish they hadn’t. Look on line for their after care service and you’ll never make the mistake of buying one. I think the positive review are written by their employees.

Sam on February 27, 2010 11:38 PM

I’ve had the x-fi for only slightly over a year (it was a Christmas present in ’08) and I’m extremely annoyed with it. It constantly on freezes up and needing reseting. Whenever I plug it into any laptop or computer, I always have to hold my breath and hope it actually syncs with it so that it will charge or I can transfer songs over. Last week, the internal screen broke while it was in my pocket, and although I suspect it’s my fault, I don’t think it says much about the manufacturing. I’m searching round for a new mp3 player now – hopefully one that will not give me as many problems.

Mike on March 4, 2010 12:14 PM

I just got my XFI but noticed that the wall chargers I used for the Zen and Zen XFI2 didn’t work for it as well as my car charger. Is this the design? Customer diservice said I had to purchase their charger but they don’t offer a car charger.

wazee on June 1, 2010 2:01 PM

i cannot switch on my ZEN X-Fi 8GB, why ? anyone help me pls?

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