These days any MP3 player that you can't inhale seems clunky and burdensome. Compared with some of Apple's more recent offerings, the Zen MicroPhoto from Creative appears positively brick-ish – particularly given the mid-level capacity. But let's not be sizeist: this is a delightful product.

Indeed, the weighty solidity of the Zen is one of its best features: even strenuous gym sessions cannot dull that attractive metallic sparkle. The Zen looks great, and lights up futuristically when you switch it on.

The arrangement of the buttons is neat and intuitive. We found navigating somewhat fiddly at first, accidentally dipping into folders when trying to scroll past them - up/down and select are accessed via the same button - but we soon got the hang of it. The on/off/hold switch remains a minor irritant, however, generally calling for the use of a fingernail.

Power comes courtesy of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which lasted us about 14 hours. The Oled screen is clear and crisp, and should do justice to the thousands of photographs you'll be able to carry and view.

While we were at it, we also enjoyed trying out the TravelDock, a tastefully designed and conveniently portable battery- or mains-powered speaker set and charger for the Zen. The stand doubles as a protective case, and a remote is included.

Creative Zen MicroPhoto/Creative TravelDock Zen Micro: Specs

  • 8GB digital audio player: USB 2.0
  • 1.5in 262,144-colour Oled display
  • removable rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • supports MP3, WMA, Janus, WAV, IMA, ADPCM and Jpeg files
  • 51x83x17mm
  • 115g. 8W 2-channel speakers: USB, headphone/subwoofer, line-in and FM antenna connectors
  • uses mains adapter (included) or 4x AA batteries (not included)
  • remote
  • 188x47x108mm
  • 498g
  • 8GB digital audio player: USB 2.0
  • 1.5in 262,144-colour Oled display
  • removable rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • supports MP3, WMA, Janus, WAV, IMA, ADPCM and Jpeg files
  • 51x83x17mm
  • 115g. 8W 2-channel speakers: USB, headphone/subwoofer, line-in and FM antenna connectors
  • uses mains adapter (included) or 4x AA batteries (not included)
  • remote
  • 188x47x108mm
  • 498g

OUR VERDICT

It's not the smallest audio player around - not by a long shot. Nor does it offer the largest capacity. But the Zen MicroPhoto, rugged, good-looking and easy to use, nevertheless stands out in a crowded market. It's not Mac-compatible, though - you can't have everything.

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