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Sixth night Chanukah

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-12-19

Zen Micro

Zen Micro

For the sixth night of Chanukah, it's time either you or friends/relatives were wired for sound. So why not splash out on a digital music player? One of the best on the market is the Zen Micro from Creative.

Given the success of the iPod, it was only a matter of time before rivals starting appearing on the market. The best of these is undoubtedly the Zen Micro (£160) from Creative – a tiny device that fits in the palm of your hand and stores up to 5GB worth of material – around 1500 songs.  But it’s more than just a music player, offering as well a radio, organiser and voice recording capabilities among its other features.

Putting music on to the player is a quick, simple process – as well as being compatible with numerous download websites, it’s also pretty easy to burn your own CDs on to the player, once you’ve loaded the relevant software on to your computer. The crisp, clear sound quality is hard to beat, while the player itself offers you several different options when it comes to listening to your music – you can either play it back by album, artist or genre, choose individual tracks or just put it on random and let the player choose tracks for you. The DJ feature is also a neat feature which shows you which songs you’ve been listening to the most and least, and also chooses an Album Of The Day at random. And you can also make your own playlists – although you need to hook it up to your computer to do this, via the software provided.

The more you play around with it the more you’ll find other little features, such as the ‘View Details’ option which lets you see how many times you’ve played a particular track – which prove oddly addictive. A spare battery, a belt clip and a neat little carrying bag all add to the experience (though you may want to get a proper carrying case as the belt clip isn’t that strong and does give over time) You also get to choose from 10 different colours, from black and white through to pink, orange and purple.

On the down side, the other features the Zen Micro has to offer prove a tad disappointing – the quality of the voice recording, for example, isn’t brilliant, while the radio reception can be hit and miss. And while the spare battery is a real bonus, it.

And while a single charge of the battery can last a couple of days (depending on how often you use it), it would still be nice to have the option of using normal batteries rather than having to continually recharge the player.

The lack of a proper instruction manual explaining all the extra features is also frustrating – all we were given was a booklet explaining how to install the software on our PC, but nothing telling us how to set up a playlist (we had to work this out for ourselves), use the non-music based features or showing us what the mysterious ‘bookmarks’ section is for.

But these are minor quibbles, and if it’s a reasonably priced, good quality music player that you’re primarily after then the Zen Micro is hard to fault – and if you’re new to MP3 players it’s a great starting point. While there are other makes who offer 30GB plus devices (Creative also does one), the Zen Micro, at 5GB, provides a perfect introduction to the world of music downloads.

For most people, being able to store 1500 tracks should be more than enough. Of course, once you’ve enjoyed doing this a few times, it does grow on you.

For more information: www.creative.com