Another review to do another Creative product for us at MightyGadget to tell you all about. Today it’s the Creative Zen Style 300, a compact mp3 player on the low cost side that still offers plenty of options. For anybody familiar with Creative’s Mozaic mp3 player this is the newer version of that but not all that different. Click on to read the full review
The first notable difference between the Zen Style 300 and the Mozaic is Creative have gone back to a less eye catching affair but in reality of size and shape it’s not all that different. The player itself is available in 3 colours which are black(what we got) white and blue. The 1.8” screen isn’t big by any means but neither is the player and the 4 buttons are laid out nicely underneath the screen and are big enough to not have multiple button presses. Below the 4 main function buttons is a 5 button directional pad which is very easy to use when navigating the menus.
The very top of the player has a built-in microphone so you can record memos or whatever. The bottom has the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and a mini-USB port. On the side is a tiny reset button in case of a system crash and that’s it. There’s no dedicated volume controls power button or lock/hold which is always a let down but not the end of the world. On the reverse of the player is the built in speaker. Now I know this is standard with today’s mobile phones but on a small mp3 player such as this, to me seemed a bit pointless especially when it’s that small the sound quality is awful. I can only guess this is for the voice record playback or for the annoying folk that sit on public transport that insist we listen to there “tinny” music.
Ok so let’s switch it on. The play/pause button is the power button. Power up is relatively quick. The user interface is the same as the earlier Creative models and is easy to use. The direction buttons obviously navigate the menus and the middle button selects. The UI in general is very responsive and works a treat. The buttons have little pictures on explaining there function. So the menu starts with Microphone, Photos, Music, Videos, FM Radio, Extras and System.
The microphone as stated before is on top of the player and can pick up sound relatively well. Playback wasn’t too quiet on the on-board speaker but wasn’t great either however as it saves te recording onto the player these can be extracted onto your PC for clearer playback.
Photos. To be completely honest a bit pointless on a low-res 128 x 160 1.8” screen. Pictures look very grainy and you’ll have to squint to make out what they are. However you can change the background to a picture of your choice and the album covers feature when you’ve got music on is always a bonus to see what you’re playing but again the quality of the images isn’t fantastic.
Music. Now this is what you’ve bought it for, this is where the Creative Zen should make it’s money. File support sits at mp3, wav and wma. Ok not necessarily suitable for the iTunes crowd(which you can rip cds to mp3 with anyway) but certainly suitable for all the Apple haters. Creative have never let themselves down with the sound quality of their products (see our E3-NPC headphones and Zii Sound Speakers reviews) and this player as always doesn’t disappoint. The first thing you need to do however is ditch the headphones you get with it and get a decent pair (maybe even the Creative E3-NPC headphones) Playback of the music generally was good for your everyday music needs. Obviously if you’re a complete audiophile you’ll notice that at the extreme ends of sound playback the Zen Style 300 is a little rough around the edges, but this isn’t a top of the range hi-fi. For what it is, it does the job perfectly.
Video. Again same as photo, small low res screens aren’t ideal to watch your videos. Not only that the Zen Style 300 doesn’t have a broad range of file playback. In order to see video you’ll have to convert whatever it is on your computer into the Creative CMV format, using the Creative Centrale software provided.
FM Radio. Is what it says, a radio. Not a lot we can say about radio really. It’s been around forever and hasn’t really changed.
Extras., The extras function is just a couple of widgets you can use like a calendar a contacts list and a tasks list. These can be synced to your Zen Style using the Centrale software again.
System. All the settings one could possibly want to change.
All in all the Creative Zen Style 300 does the jobs it set out to do. Be an mp3 player. It doesn’t exceed itself in the extras it offers but certainly delivers where it’s needed. We were a little disappointed with the screen quality for photos and videos and the built-in speaker sound isn’t great. What we were impressed with though is the music playback, the speedy easy-to-use interface and the battery life (over 30 hours of music playback on a full charge). If you’re after a small lightweight mp3 player then for around £60 this is certainly worth taking into account. It’s better than an iPod shuffle due to the capacity and the fact it has a screen etc. Although not as good for the extra functions as an iPod Nano, it’s half the price and certainly matches it’s music playing abilities.