, manufacturer of the venerable Soundblaster
series of PC soundcards
and the Nomad
portable MP3 player
series, have released their latest â€śinnovationâ€ť -- the Nomad Jukebox Zen
for both Windows
Obviously patterned after the Apple iPod, the Zen is a small portable hard drive MP3 player which currently has a 20 GB storage capacity (up to 8,000 WMA files, or 5,000 MP3 files). Unlike Appleâ€™s player, however, the Zen allows for both Firewire (thatâ€™s IEEE 1394, or SB1394 as Creative calls their version of it) and USB connections. Since USB has been standard on most PCâ€™s and Macâ€™s for several years, this is definitely a good thing for people left out of the Firewire revolution. In 2003, Creative released a USB 2.0 version of the player that is cheaper ($299 without a rebate). However, the USB 2.0 version does not support a Firewire connection.
The player includes a rechargeable lithium ion battery that boasts a 12-hour lifespan. Conveniently, the battery is rechargeable via USB port (though strangely, not by Firewire).
Unlike its Jukebox predecessors, the Zen is a mere 75.9 mm wide X 112.6 high X 24.5 mm deep. Its sleek aluminum case is reminiscent of the iPodâ€™s, but lacks its competitorâ€™s elegant design and is slightly larger. Though to its credit, it is much smaller than its Jukebox predecessors, and is much more manageable than the brick-like first generation of hard drive MP3 players.
Priced at $299 (after mail-in rebate), the Zen is a competitive compact player. It stores considerably more songs than the comparably priced 5GB iPod, but lacks some of the iPodâ€™s innovative user interface features.