I’m more than a casual user of Creative portable media players. I use a 60gb Zen Vision W, my wife uses a 4gb Zen, and my kids each have a 16gb Zen. At the time the purchases made sense because they offered more features at a lower price than either Apple, Microsoft, or any other manufacturer. For example, they have built-in FM radios, which my wife loves as she’s an NPR junkie. You can also add storage to them via SD cards, which is great for long trips. And they natively accept a lot more formats than either the iPod or the Zune.

However, Apple completely changed the portable media player market with the introduction of the iPod Touch. The Touch is essentially a micro-tablet-PC/portable gaming system/internet accessible/media player. It’s literally like having a computer in your shirt pocket. Microsoft answered Apple’s challenge with the Zune HD. I had to wonder what Creative would come up with. That wonder is over.

Creative is set to release its touch screen ZEN X-Fi2 to compete with the iPod Touch and the Zen HD. I’m amazed at how pathetic it is. The 32gb version is only about 50 bucks cheaper than either the iPod Touch or the Zune HD, but has none of the compelling features.

One alleged feature the ZEN X-Fi2 has going for it is native support for more video formats, but since most videos will have to be converted to smaller resolutions anyway, it’s not really much of an advantage.

The new Zen also boasts the ability to use flash cards for additional storage, but it uses microSD, so it’s not like its anything to brag about. The 16gb card I found at newegg is about 50 bucks. Suddenly it’s the exact same price as the Touch.

Hilariously, or should I say pathetically, it also offers an RSS reader and a calendaring system, but it has to be connected to your computer with a cable to sync them. Not with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but with a god fricken cable! What year does Creative think this is?!

As I said, the Touch is essentially a micro-tablet-PC/portable gaming system/internet accessible/media player. While the new ZEN X-Fi2 is essentially an overpriced media player with a touch screen. I can’t imagine who would buy one. “Ignorant” wouldn’t sufficiently describe such a person. “Palin for President supporter” might come close.

  1. Improbus says:

    1. If the Touch had the ZuneHD screen I would go out and buy it today.

    2. I can’t remember the last time I bought a Creative product. It may have been a sound card back in the day.

  2. philipcopeland says:

    You know, I liked the review. Made sense. Tossing in the political comment makes you sound petty. Not funny.

  3. TTHor says:

    Our Singaporean friends had it all going for them, and then they lost it 5 – 7 years ago, and obviously this is the nail in the coffin judging from this previous Zen supporter. For me, a company even thinking launching a product called “ZEN X-Fi2” has paved its own destiny…

  4. SN says:

    2. Palin for President Supporter wrote: “Tossing in the political comment makes you sound petty. Not funny.

    Who said I was trying to be funny?

  5. Steve S says:

    Well it does have a potential market for people who have an irrational rabid hatred of Apple or Microsoft. They don’t need those “proprietary” advanced features that surely come at the cost of your mortal soul if you even contemplate buying an Apple or Microsoft product. They can enjoy the sounds of their good-enough music player in peace, at home (“The Compound”), safe in the knowledge that their purchase did not further world fascism.
    You know what. Buy what every music player you want that makes you happy but spare me from hearing your God damn quasi-religious opinions about Microsoft or Apple or any other company that is trying to make a buck.

  6. Paul says:

    I thought the Palin for President was both funny and sad. Funny comparison and sad she might actually think about trying. I thought she would try to be on one of her fabled “eath Panels”. After all she already killed the McCain campaign.

  7. Ted says:

    Your review was fine until you had to get political and therefore quite stupid!

    This was not funny, it showed how completely IGNORANT you are.

  8. Jägermeister says:

    Buy an Archos 7 instead.

  9. Improbus says:

    Don’t let them get you down SN. The wing nuts are always angry.

  10. David_R says:

    I have to say the political comment at the end of this gadget review is really out of place.

  11. Loupe Garou says:

    It seems “I can’t imagine who would buy one.” would have been enough. When did we start associating inanimate objects or anonymous consumers with politics?

  12. Bahram says:

    Im confused, are these comments serious about the political comment at the end of review being out of place and “not funny”?
    Okay, #2 i’m almost sure is a joke but #8 and #11? really?

  13. SN says:

    David_R wrote: “I have to say the political comment at the end of this gadget review is really out of place.

    Hello. I wanted to great you on your first visit to Dvorak.org. I hope you enjoy your time spent here and come back real soon.

  14. SN says:

    13. Bahram wrote: “Okay, #2 i’m almost sure is a joke…

    I’m sad to say that philipcopeland was not joking. I added the picture. I thought it fit. He was actually completely serious. I know… I know…

  15. Brian says:

    I have a 8GB Zen, and it is much more versatile than the 30GB iPod Video that was re-gifted to me. It was considerably cheaper than any comparable iPod at the time, and expandable, to boot.
    I thought the first X-Fi had a neat trick up its sleeve with the wifi feature, but then wondered why they crippled it with just being able to do social networking. I figured there had to be legal reasons to not give it full wifi, but that some hack would inevitably show up to fix that.
    All told, though, I think I’ll have to concur with the Archos recommendation.

  16. Awake says:

    Who is Sarah Palin? Kinda rings a bell… can’t quite remember what she is famous for. Did she use to hang out with Paris Hilton or something like that? Oh, I remember, she was she the star of a sitcom similar to “Rosseane”?

  17. Bob West says:

    I’m still waiting for a Camera on the iTouch or Zune HD, but while I was waiting I bought a Panasonic Digtal (10 mega pixel) camera with a 3″ display.
    It also takes 18 minute videos, uses 16gb HCSD cards, paid $60 for a display model, retail new $320.
    On a side note, I’ll wait with my first generation iPod shuffle, which I can operate while it’s still in my pocket, I don’t need an mp3 player with a screen.

  18. jccalhoun says:

    I wonder how long Creative Labs is staying going to stay in business before getting bought or going bankrupt. It is to the point where even hardcore gamers like myself think that motherboard audio cards are good enough. Their mp3 players are a minor minor players. Does anyone buy Cambridge Soundworks speakers any more?

    It might be worth AMD buying them and integrating their tech into the chip along with the videocard or something like that.

  19. Zybch says:

    I was a big fan of the zen players and had 3 of them till I got my first zune. Since then I’ve sold them all. The only thing they have going for them currently is the SD slot, which is something I can’t ever see MS or apple adding as it would allow media to be added to the device without shackling you to their own proprietary software apps.

  20. bob says:

    very lame to pick on Palin, but as the poster said it’s unsurprising here, and it’s even understandable, I suppose, considering the actual CURRENT state of our national politics. Few targets on the right aside from some blatant straw men, and the left has been about nothing but taking shots rightward for so long it must feel like all there is. Cracks like that are nostalgic for some people.

    FWIW, I think she killed the McCain campaign not through her personal qualities (I cheered for her convention speech, then cringed at her performance w/ Katie Couric and repeatedly afterwards) but because by selecting her McCain foreclosed an argument that hits Barack Obama squarely: presidential politics is not a learn-on-the-job proposition.

    Unfortunately, the rookie on the right isn’t our problem now – it’s the rookie on the left, the one who won the race, who’s sitting in the White House wondering what he’s going to do now that he’s encountered (for the first time in his life) the task of governing in the real world.

    The gap between his words and his actions is so wide that even many of his (famously entranced) supporters have begun to snap out of it.

    Thank God our system is designed to more-or-less seize up in case of major controversy – otherwise President Obama would actually get his way.

  21. Johan says:

    What it has going for it? Sound quality maybe? I’ve heard the X-fi chip is great for sound quality.

    Btw, can we stop putting touch screen on EVERYTHING!? There’s nothing wrong with sturdy buttons and a thick piece of plastic in front of the screen to make it a bit more durable.

  22. Leo L. says:

    With Obama turning out to be a complete dud- I think Palin would have been a better choice.

  23. tdkyo says:

    I have a Cowon P5, and I love it. From the recent firmware, I got a few goodies, including an RSS Reader (That can be updated via wifi) and a web browser (Which connects to a server, and downloads the images of the webpage) that can access Facebook without any major problems. (There are other nice features, but most might be useless for the U.S. market, such as a Korean-English dictionary)

    Unfortunately, it is available only in Korea.

  24. danno says:

    Have you looked into the Creative Zii EGG? I don’t think it has been released yet, but is in manufacturing. Initial models will run Creative’s Plazma OS, but it will eventually be available with Android. http://www.zii.com

  25. philipcopeland says:

    Hey, SN,

    How smart is it to antagonize the followers of this blog because you disagree with their politics?

    I commented on your rather stupid insertion of politics into a review. It undermines your credibility.

    Even dumber: adding your own pictures to my previous comment. I wonder if John Dvorak is keeping tabs on the guys running a site with his name on it.

    (i am a big john dvorak fan – hate to see that he’s got people like this working for him)

  26. Common_Sense says:

    Gotta say, I agree with Phil on this one. I don’t care if Phil doesn’t like the insertion of political humor into the review — because that’s the writer’s choice — as it happens, I thought the comment was funny. Heck, I even thought the picture was funny.

    Editing/Censorship is already tricky enough for so-called ‘offensive’ content, but editing a users post by ADDING something to it… I don’t see just cause for it, ever.

  27. mrsleep says:


    You’re right, Obama is a dud.
    It’s been 9 months and he hasn’t gotten us into any wars, or eroded civil liberties!

  28. patrick says:

    I love the new Zen and don’t need all the crap I have to put up with on Zune and Ipee. They both suck.

    Zen is fine except even they pissed me off with the swapping of two contacts so they think you have to buy their AV cord to make it work.

    A word to the wise. Plug in your normal AV cord and just swap the Yellow and Red cords on the TV composite input and it will work fine.

    The normal AV plug has in order from wire to tip as follows:

    Yellow, Ground, Red, White

    Zen Plug is:

    Red Ground, Yellow, White

    Hence the workaround to use your standard AV cords.

    I am not paying another 20 bucks to keep from swapping a RCA plug.

    Sarah Palin is a dork as are all politicians. Once they are elected, it is SCREW the public, gimme some power.

  29. BattleBrat says:

    1. I use a Zen Vision as my primary, but upgraded to the X-Fi2. It was sluggish at first but upgraded the firmware and it is awesome now, sounds better then my vision and that is hard to accomplish. (I use an Ipod Photo (you can have 2 accessories in at once) for my car, the accessories they make for it are hard to beat.)

    2 “# 19 jccalhoun said, on September 22nd, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I wonder how long Creative Labs is staying going to stay in business before getting bought or going bankrupt. It is to the point where even hardcore gamers like myself think that motherboard audio cards are good enough. Their mp3 players are a minor minor players. Does anyone buy Cambridge Soundworks speakers any more? ”

    Listen, “good enough” is a four letter word, good enough isn’t good enough I have to have Epic, I have to have BADASS, Play Bioshock with an onboard sndcard and then use an upperlevel Creative card you know instantly what I mean and pull your head out of your. “good enough” you’re just cheap!

    3. You are trying to compare the X-Fi2 to the Itouch, you cannot, the Itouch is a PDA, Like it or not, look at the features, look at what it does, it’s a friggen PDA! When I buy an MP3 player to play music (maybe video) AND I EXPECT IT TO DO THOSE THINGS WELL. The Itouch is not redeemable, not even with my Sony cans, and they made my 5th and 4th gen pods sound good. And since apple products are made for idiots, there is no customizable equalizer, since idiots don’t know how to use them. The lack of EQ kills all Apple and Microsoft products.

    4. Wifi has no place on an PMP these days, not with phones where they’re at. All wifi does is take space needed for audio oriented hardware inside the player, Why do you think the Itouch has such sub par audio quality?

  30. jessiey7 says:

    You should have added the durability of the Zen X-Fi2. I dropped my Zen twice and it’s totally cracked at the corners because if the shitty plastic formed around it. I was disappointed, mostly because they should know that peopel are clumsy nowadays.


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