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.