This review appears in the October 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

At last: someone has come up with a navigation system for an MP3 player that doesn't involve a control wheel or four-way directional buttons. Granted, the Zen V looks very similar to a nano, but it's actually more innovative than its rivals in this increasingly crowded market.

V's petite joystick frees up space on the front of the attractive – albeit somewhat 1990s-styled – audio player. The result is a small, neat device dominated by its 1.5in Oled screen, and a user experience that is not marred by the usual fiddliness of miniature players. This friendliness is continued in the wise use of the V's sides for dedicated volume buttons – a policy we at PC Advisor have long championed.

Peering beneath the Zen's pleasing exterior and helpful control layout, however, we discovered some slight concerns. Synchronising the player with a PC proved a surprisingly tricky procedure. The device crashed one PC and sent another into a state of paralysed confusion when docked for an initial charge. On other occasions it took repeated efforts to establish a connection.

Another potential headache lies in the Zen's counterintuitive method of creating playlists, which had us baffled for a while – we recommend the manual. The device is also occasionally sluggish at obeying commands, and it's a fingerprint magnet.

But on the up side, the file-transfer system is quite impressive, particularly for its inclusion of the option to rip music files from CD to the device, rather than via the PC. And the V boasts the ability to record directly from a standalone music player via a supplied cable: a thoughtful and handy feature.

Creative Zen V: Specs

  • 2GB digital audio player
  • supports MP3, WMA and Audible Audio audio formats and Jpeg image format
  • 1.5in Oled screen
  • can record direct to WMA without a PC
  • built-in microphone for live voice capture
  • USB 2.0
  • quoted battery life 15 hours of playback
  • actual battery life 17-18 hours of playback
  • 44x68x16mm, 43.5g
  • 2GB digital audio player
  • supports MP3, WMA and Audible Audio audio formats and Jpeg image format
  • 1.5in Oled screen
  • can record direct to WMA without a PC
  • built-in microphone for live voice capture
  • USB 2.0
  • quoted battery life 15 hours of playback
  • actual battery life 17-18 hours of playback
  • 44x68x16mm, 43.5g

OUR VERDICT

That bold black-and-lime-green colour scheme may put a few people off, but we think most will appreciate the Creative Zen V's simple, clean look – not to mention its convenient controls, attractive price tag and decent battery life. It can be a bit flaky when hooking up with a PC, however, so be warned.

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