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Colours available: Red, Black, and White (mines ***** as a coal miners thumb)
Released in mid April 2010, the Style model has got to be the most predicted design orientated portable media player Creative has produced to date. Which is playing on the embedded square theme that got a warm response from the quirky 'Creative' public, several years ago, Creative have not forgotten it, obviously. Style has the same concept, but done in a milder visual manner. Making the design prone to capture more mainstream consumers, without alienating the few 'Mozaic' lovers who've embraced the squares; for me, Creative lacks that ultra design team to break boundaries and enthrall audiences.
Their designs are different but notoriously bland; too careful, and certainly have problems in letting go of average design models that have failed against the avalanche of Apple iPods and apps. Being critical has at least made Creative think about how to re mould models to a more stabilizing brand awareness corner. They get the number one slot for the most variations of portable media player in the market at one time. It won't win them the market prime position against the formidable Apple but alas will give a scope for a secure future, if the money keeps rolling in for modeling design variants - 'Style,' Creative definitely would think so, but the critics remain undecided.
Creative Zen style - has a checkered face - which looks out of place.
Over the recent years, their brand appears to be diluted by having many ultra 'hard edged,' 'sharp cornered,' 'bulky' media players in the market-place way beyond they should've. So, when the public visualizes a Creative product, basic bland design floods their mind, usually with too many buttons doing the same thing and without any thought to the user's comfort for long periods of time, such as when you're traveling. They find Creative devices a bug bare, but cheaper option to the iPod. The Style model does tick many boxes when it comes down to comfort and user friendliness. For example the corners are rounded and the touch is soft, they've made the navigational routes more manageable, by having only three main portals for finger contact, and they're big enough for man fingers, unlike other models that irritated me. The cute size; is dinky and quite honestly rests easily in the palm. These are all design pluses.
The other pluses for the Style model is the lack off touch-screen technology that seems to be employed over most portable media devices over the last twelve months. I'm not a huge fan of the sensitive touch-screen monitors; they've contorted my face with their odd fads and derange finger flicks to open up pages. They're somewhat needless and at times it takes away the available features of the actual PMP. Well, it does initially before getting use to a touch-screen interface. Of course, youngsters will have a completely different impression of touch-screen having not fought herewith 'great sweat and toil' among the defiant non responsive navigational buttons, which makes you automatically heavy handed with a touch-screen interface. It's an age thing.
Now the 'Zen series' has unlocked the wonderfully enhanced audio path to 'X-Fi.' The model lists are growing thereafter the 'high fidelity' introduction. X-Fi is an audio quality technology installed in each PMP device to allow a purer sound through to audio 'on-the-go' media players. When the eventual release of Zen Zii, headphones will also have this type of audio features; so that is a double plus. This is what Creative knows best, building up audio quality features and offloading them to mini devices. The levels of expertise to perform these tests are not known to the everyday consumer, so I fear that the technology to the untrained ear is hardly noticeable, unless the device looks and suffices to be user friendly, no-one will be any wiser, except for the audio geeks, and they're not the normal device consumer.
Again the 'D pad' just beneath the main monitor can make for a slightly uneasy navigation experience, but this isn't new. All Creative models suffer with navigational control on their devices; even setting the volume is a task and is done in two different ways via the interface settings or by a more straight forward prompt while listening to FM radio, the two seem not connected; an odd add-on (feature) to the 'personal alarm' and 'FM radio.' 'User-friendliness' is not what Creative is renowned for; 'quality,' is a resounding 'Yes.' It beats the iPod Shuffle hands down, overall. However, for a main portable media player, the 'Style' is treading water in aesthetics and navigation. You won't be running with this strapped to your arm, for a start, you won't be able to hear the X-Fi quality. At least the 'iPod Shuffle;' or the 'Stone' has that market genre, sown up. 'Zen Style' hasn't even got to the starting blocks.
The X-Fi Style is just another new fad PMP!
Equipped visually with 'no nonsense' monitor, 320 x 240 pixels, that's able to produce 262,000 colours. Actually using the 16GB storage facility for photo storage is a bright move. Superb for photo libraries and folders and almost clairvoyant with audio files and codecs from raw materials via the web; files such as AVI - MP4 - MP3 - WMV - JPEG - are compatible with the help of Windows Explorer, this is installed to systematically make workstation files more mobile-friendly on portable devices.
Battery life can be determined on whether the X-Fi Crystallizer is enabled or not. So choose you're time wisely to hear the quality. Another software package is available via 'Creative Centrale,' this package installed in the device allows you to manage the play listings, this can be operated by the scrolling mechanism from the 'D pad.' Again, the scrolling is nothing like a 'Shuffle.' In regard to ease, and for a portable media player; I simply can't see the reason for the April release. Whether it is to satisfy shareholders or to embroider agreed terms and conditions in contracts for their supreme audio technology, the jury is out.
One thing for sure, and it's kind of refreshing; there is not an 'app' in sight. Guarantee some-one else will buy it for that reason alone, as I did. Priced at 75.99 GBP (Amazon), it is almost worth a punt.
Thank you for reading.