Creative Zen X-Fi Style (32GB)

It's a good solid player that sits between the Zen X-Fi and the Zen X-Fi2, but there's nothing new to shout about.

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Unlike the Zen Style 300, the Zen X-Fi Style looks like the Zen, save for the snazzy new makeover and omission of the memory expansion slot. Is Creative hiding a surprise deep within the guts of the new X-Fi Style?

Design and features

The X-Fi Style shares a similar graphics imprint on the cover as the Style 100/300. There's a choice of three colours — black, white and red. The arrangement of the controls is exactly like the older Zen. The power button located at the top of the player doubles as a lock button. However, unlike the Zen, Zen X-Fi and Zen X-Fi2, there is no memory expansion slot to be found. Predictably, the right side of the player is where you'll find the standard mini-USB port and a headphone/TV-output jack.

The Style 300's audio file support includes MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, Audible audio and FLAC, a format used mostly by audiophiles for digital backups of their CD collection. The built-in mic is located at the top for voice recording, while the built-in speaker is situated on the back. There is also FM radio with autoscan and 32 preset slots. Like the older Mozaic, you can store your contacts, tasks and calendar information on the player itself, with the flexibility of syncing RSS feeds using the Creative Centrale software.

The good old Zen interface appears once again on this player, with various themes for interface customisation built-in. Getting content onto the X-Fi Style is a mostly simple task as it functions as an MSC device and will playback videos in WMV, MPEG-4, DivX and XviD up to 640x480 pixels — without having to convert them into Creative's proprietary CMV format.

Performance and conclusion

Creative's MP3 players have a good track record for good sound quality and the Zen X-Fi Style stays true to this tradition. Though there was a good amount of clarity and presence, it may have sounded a bit cold and uninspiring at default settings. However, there are options for audio tweaking. There's a five-band equaliser with eight presets that have a custom option, as well as the Crystalliser and Expand, which sharpen up the sound quality. The on-board speaker has enough volume to fill a fairly large and quiet room, but the sound output was a bit thin which may just be more annoying than it is entertaining.

Text and images appear sharp on the 2.4-inch screen, but with only 262k colours on tap, the display suffers from colour banding, especially when viewing photos on-screen. TV output is through the headphones port and requires a AU$24.95 A/V cable that's sold separately. Still, at the maximum resolution of 640x480 pixels, it's good enough only if you're not picky about picture quality.

The X-Fi Style fared well in our battery tests, too. We had about 24 hours of music playback with four hours of video.

In conclusion, it's another good player to come out of Creative's stables, with a bit of plastic surgery to keep it looking fresh when pitted against direct rivals. As for the ultimate trump card, at AU$179.95 for the 32GB version, this blows away most of the competition when it comes to value for money.

Via CNET Asia

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