Today we are dealing with a new Creative's Mp3/WMA/WAV Player named Nomad Jukebox Zen which starts a new line of portable players on hard drives. As you know, this is not a new sphere for the company as the Nomad Jukebox3 tested before left quite pleasant impression. But in contrast to the Jukebox3, the today's hero sports a completely new design and smaller size, with the functions and hard drive size being the same.
If you remember, all previous HDD based Nomad Jukeboxes looked like CD players. The present design reminds an expensive cassette player. You'll even want to open a non-existant lid of the cassette-receiver. But it takes no time to get used to it. Being small, the player perfectly sits in my hand. The controls are in the positions where the fingers tend to rest. The buttons are placed asymmetrically on the player's sides for the sake of the design. It won't take much time to get used to their positions and to how they are pressed (it's not easy).
On the left are the adapter connector, power button, volume control and Now Playing button.
On the right, you will find the play/pause button, menu button, scroller, reset button, and forward/reverse button.
There is no stop button. Well, you don't need it because you can replace it with a combination of the pause button and then forward/reserve button at the same time. :)
On the top of the device you have USB, SB1394 (IEEE1394) connectors and a headphone
jack. The latter supports a wired remote which has some additional features (like
recording or ratio) but it is not yet available.
The display option provides for two letter sizes. The first one is like on the Jukebox3's display - there are 5 text lines in all. The other has smaller letters but 6 lines. The display's backlight color is blue.
You can handle the device and navigate through the tree-like menu, which is identical to the Jukebox3. The various options (including EAX effects) are described in the Jukebox3 Review.
The player is pleasantly bundled with a leather case. This case can be attached to the belt or backpack strap, attracting passers-by with the word "Creative". :) The case is attached like many others of mobile phones.
The headphones supplied are identical to those of the Jukebox 3. In spite of the original trendy design they don't sound adequately. I suggest that you buy something better.
The player gets power from the built-in Li-Ion rechargeable battery. It takes about 4 hours to charge it up. The playback time, according to the specs and our measurements, comes to 12 hours. They player worked 12 hours non-stop at the highest volume level with the supplied headphones connected.
The Jukebox Zen was tested with the firmware version 1.11.04p. For new versions check at http://www.nomadworld.com/.
The player supports almost all needed formats:
When a track is played, you can see its genre, artist, title, album and time on the display.
Interactive user guide
|Test||Test Signal||Creative Zen WAV||Creative Zen MP3|
|Frequency response (40 Hz - 15 kHz), dB||+0.00, -0.00||+0.05, -0.23||+0.18, -0.63|
|Noise level, dB (A)||-97.8||-92.1||-92.1|
|Dynamic range, dB (A)||95.5||89.6||89.4|
|Intermodulation distortions, %||0.0057||0.014||0.015|
General performance : Very good
In general, I've got a good impression of the Nomad Jukebox Zen Player. Thanks to its compact size the player is very easy in use (and the leather case comes in handy). It looks even greater in comparison with the bulky Jukebox3. The IEEE 1394 interface makes possible to speed downloading various compositions. A potentially possible purchase of the remote control adds such features as recording, FM tuner, radio recording.
On the other hand, the Nomad Jukebox Zen doesn't read wav files 24/96, has inferior sound at a high volume level and is rather pricey at the moment ($350). This stylish gadget is evidently for well-off people.
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