The Creative Zen Nano Plus MP3 player (1 gigabyte £43.20) comes in 10 colours and is available in 512MB of flash memory to store up to 250 tracks and 1GB of flash memory to store up to 500 tracks.
This is a feature rich ultra-portable (size of a pen drive) MP3/WMA mobile audio solution in an attractive package and the smallest in Creative’s range and only 32 grams. This is an excellent product and 10/10!
The sound quality for MP3 is excellent and even better for WMA encoded tracks, the frequency response is 20Hz to 20,000Hz, with a signal-to-noise ratio of 90dB.
Although plastic, the build quality is of a high standard with a durable scratch resistant casing. The device is controlled by 3 responsive and sensibly sized buttons: power on/off (which also acts as the play/pause); volume up; and volume down. The remaining functions are delivered via a scroll wheel which also has a rocker function and acts as the skip and the fast forward/back controls. All controls can be operated one handed by use of the thumb only.
The black on green backlit 3cm x 1 cm LCD (18 characters) interface is a very intuitive and user-friendly display using 2 lines of text where each of the main12 functions is identified by an icon. The display orientation can be configured to allow reading whichever way up it is held (in any one of 16 languages!).
There are 6 graphic equaliser settings – 5 preset ( Rock, Jazz; Classical, Pop, and Normal) and Custom. The Custom setting allows manual configuration of a 5-band filter circuit for tonal characteristics of the mid-frequencies.
Tracks can be placed in memory singularly or in folders as whole albums. There are 12 play modes – play all tracks / single track / single folder / all folders; either in order or randomly; and even play once, repeat once, repeat continually..
The device is powered by one AAA battery which routinely provides approximately 18-hours of playback time, microphone 15 hours and 9 hours of direct encoding. The supplied Energizer battery, however, lasted just over 24 hours. I prefer to use a pair of rechargeable batteries in tandem.
The device is connected to the computer using a USB cable (series “A” plug to Mini-B receptacle on the device) and is recognised as a standard mass storage drive, powered by the computer when connected. There’s a rubber cover over the USB port on the device.
The computer drivers provide an extremely user friendly Drag-and-Drop style interface with USB 2.0 support, including DRM copy-protected music, allowing you to easily transfer music, even via a lowly USB 1.1 Windows 98 PC.
The driver software is unnecessary for simple storage operations as it can be used a like any other flash device; however unlike some devices this does not have a type A connection so you need to have the interface cable with you.
For ‘CD quality’ playback * a minimum bit rate of 128Kbps is required which equates to 1 minute of music per megabyte, therefore the 1 gigabyte gives 8 hours worth of CD quality music which is about 200 songs. Encoding at 64Kbps allows 500 track advertised capacity.
* In answer any criticism from those who should know better I know this is not a true comparison, by ‘CD quality’ in the context of an MP3 player, I mean better than cassette, but not studio, quality, of course.
1) Built-in condenser microphone recordings in 8 kHz, 4-bit in Mono wave format.
2) A built-in FM tuner with 32 presets and Autoscan function;
3) Internal FM recording and synchronised recording, enabling you connect it to a DAB radio and timed recordings;
4) Line-In real-time MP3 encoding at 96, 128 or 160Kbps for direct connection and recording from any audio source with Line-in or earphones socket;
5) Simple drag-and-drop music and data files. No computers needed which also allows use of audio sources other than CD;
6) 18 hrs or more of battery life;
7) Works like an industry standard flash drive, so can store data files such as photos and presentations;
This is an excellent product and the only negative comments I have are quite superficial and it should be noted that we computer science geeks seem to have a genetic propensity for pointless trivialities!
1) From power up takes up to 15 seconds to load and become operational, depending on the capacity;
2) The bundled headphones are good enough, but not sufficiently so to do justice to the sound quality;
3) As a flash based player, it might have been nice to have a direct USB plug – now that retractable ones are appearing there would seem to be no reason not to;
4) The rocker switch/scroll wheel is a little fiddly, over-sensitive and can lock;
5) When browsing by folders the first song in the folder is played, rather than offering a chance to browse without playing;
6) I have noticed the odd random 0.3 second “skip”during playback – this seems to occur about every 6 hours of use;
7) I would have liked this to have come with a rechargeable battery that could be charged using the USB cable;
8) The device can not be connected to a computer to provide power while recording from the microphone or direct encoding;
9a) Folders and tracks being organised by descending alphabetic order according to file names only, and the device displays the file name only for a second then switches to the encoded track title which could be completely different. This can seem quote disorienting with large volumes of files organised with real file names;
9b) While a computer is not required, except for the ability to delete files, there is no interface to organise or name directly captured files which are written respectively to an ‘encoded tracks’ folder and named EN001 incrementally up to EN999, and to a “recorded files’ folder named VOIC001 to VC999;
10) Voice recordings are encoded as WAV files, I would have liked the option to use MP3 encoding;
11) There is a 1.8 second delay when starting and ending a direct recording;
12) The device directly encodes at a maximum of 160bkps, I don’t consider this a real issue but users are becoming accustomed to batter quality encoding and full WAV PCM output. 🙂
13) Direct encoding requires a non-standard adaptor (3.5mm to 2.5mm Mono plug to plug lead).
Zen Nano Plus;
USB 2.0 Cable;
Quick Start Booklet (multiple language);
Installation CD (multiple language);