Creative unveiled their newest player, the Zen X-Fi3, at IFA Berlin. Resembling the ‘brick’ design of the iriver Clix or Cowon D2, it’s quite a departure from the looks of the older X-Fi and X-Fi2.
Being a bit late to the dying touch interface fad, Creative put some resistive touch buttons around the 2″ TFT screen, but luckily they didn’t forget about proper tactile buttons for volume control. Same as the older X-Fi models, the X-Fi3 comes with a MicroSDHC slot, making it possible to boost the internal 8/16GB capacity with an additional 32GB of storage space. The biggest complaint about Creative’s SD implementation in older players was that files on the card weren’t integrated into the database at all, they were only available via folder browsing. Time will tell if Creative fixed that flaw in the X-Fi3. Battery life isn’t overly great with a claimed 20 hours for audio and 5 hours for video, but it’s not too shabby either.
On the software side, the X-Fi3 is quite interesting. The best feature for sure is Apt-X Bluetooth audio connectivity. Apt-X can be either lossy (384kbps) or lossless (up to 24/96) – both being vastly superior sounding compared to regular A2DP audio and transparent to most people’s ears. Creative also added FLAC support to the usual array of audio codecs (MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, Audible). For video it supports standard definition AVI/DivX/Xvid and WMV. Of course they’re also continuing to push their X-Fi Crystalizer sound enhancement technology. While it can’t really compete with Cowon’s BBE or Sony’s DSEE, it probably is better than nothing. FM radio, a speaker on the back, video-out (analog) and a voice recorder are present as well.