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Creative: no 32GB Zen for Europe

Removable memory card only way to go

Fans of audio specialist and MP3 player maker Creative have spent the past week salivating at the thought of a 32GB flash memory-based music and video player launching in Europe.

Bloggers seemed to believe that Europe was set to be the launch market for the ground-breaking player and that the device in question may even go onsale today. But according to a spokesman for Creative, a 32GB Zen player “is not even on the roadmap”.

Creative is launching a 32GB flash-based player in Singapore and some other Asian countries for the princely sum of $549. In Asia, it seems to have scored a triumph over MP3 player rivals, making the Zen the first MP3 player to launch with a 32GB flash hard disk.

Flash memory is proving popular with consumers because, unlike the hard disks found in devices such as the original iPod player, it is a non-volatile storage format with no moving parts. This 'solid state' format is far less susceptible to faults caused by accidental knocks and bumps. Because of this, it is beginning to make inroads in the laptop market, albeit at limited capacities.

Flash memory is appreciably more expensive than hard disk drives. Creative's spokesman said that, while he wasn't able to comment on launches in Asia, there aren’t any plans for Creative to launch a 32GB flash player outside that territory any time in 2008.

Instead, he put the confusion down to the fact that it’s possible to buy a 16GB flash player and bolster its overall storage capacity with a 16GB SDHC (Secure Digital high capacity) removable memory card.

Creative chalked up a first three months ago with the launch of a 16GB flash-based Zen player. Big rival Sandisk has also launched a 16GB version of its SansaView video MP3 player. Such players have the same capacity as the iPhone Apple sells in the US.

Crucially, of course, Apple is by far the biggest player in the MP3 player market. Last month, Creative announced it has sold 25 million MP3 players since launching its very first device in 1999. Research company IDC said in February that Creative is “the number two in global unit shipments [based] on worldwide and US flash and HDD-based portable media player shipments”.

Both Creative and Sandisk are aiming to keep yapping at Apple’s heels – not least because there’s another contender aiming for the iPod crown.

Microsoft has just revamped its Zune MP3 player with a sleeker, more intuitive line-up of players designed to impact on both the traditional iPod market headed by the iPod Classic and the flash-based players, in which the iPod Touch and iPod nano are the dominant devices.

Creative Zen flash-based MP3 and video player

Europe and the US are not set to get a 32GB version anytime soon


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