There is no doubt that the iPod has a strangle-hold on the digital music player industry. In fact, iPods have become so popular that some people call all music players iPods. Yet, there are many other brands and other types of players. So we set out to see if we could find an iPod competitor that was feature-rich, capable, and had good sound quality. We found that player in the Zen by Creative. In fact, the Zen had all of these traits plus one more. It is also affordable.
As shown in Figure 1, The Zen comes in a nice compact box. The contents of the box, shown in Figure 2, include an installation CD, quick start guide, USB cable, and earphones. Although the ear buds have a thin cloth covering, they are the typical hard round ear buds that are included with iPods and most other MP3 players. We find these quite uncomfortable, so we immediately got out the soft Griffin ear buds that we use for everyday listening. Fortunately, the Zen has a standard headphone port, so you can attach the headphones of your choice.
Although minor, we found the first drawback to the Zen in the included USB cable. It is only 5” long. This is of little consequence when hooked up to a laptop where the Zen can rest on a desk, but with most desktop computers, the shortness of the cable will leave the Zen hanging awkwardly in the air.