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Whenever you start a discussion about MP3 players, you have to address the elephant in the room. Yes, we all know that the Apple iPod dominates this space, but that does not mean that we should ignore all the other options. Before you head out and blindly buy another iPod, maybe you should take a moment to look at the Creative ZEN X-Fi Style 8GB to see if it might work better for you. It’s meant to be an inexpensive, compact alternative to something like the iPod nano. Let’s check it out!

Features and Specifications

So, what kind of features can you expect from this pocket full of sunshine? Going through the basics, there is a 2.4-inch TFT LCD, X-Fi technology (for better audio quality), Lossless audio support, A/V output, integrated speaker, FM radio, voice notes, personal organizer, and RSS feed support.

The list of functions appears to be better than something like the Samsung YP-S3, but it’s one thing to say things on paper and another thing to actually do them well. That’s why we do these reviews, you see.

Available in capacities up to 32GB , you can choose between black, white, or red (as shown). We’re reviewing the eight-gigger, though I’d imagine the experience is similar with the other sizes too. Prices range from $79.99US for the 8GB to $169.99US for the 32GB. The 16GB sits in the middle at $99.99US.

What’s in the Box?

Cracking open the retail packaging (which is still that terrible plastic blister pack thing), you’ll find the Creative ZEN X-Fi Style itself, of course. Aside from that, you get a very basic set of ear buds, a mini-USB to USB cable, and a series of documentation. There are redemption codes for a free audiobook and 35 free songs too.

You’ll notice that the USB cable is remarkably short. This might be fine for some folks, but it could prove frustrating for others. You’ll also notice that there is no wall adapter for charging; you’ll need to get your own adapter or a charging dock if you want that.

Ports, Design, and First Impressions

Measuring 83.6mm x 48.7mm x 11.7mm and weighing 56 grams, the Creative ZEN X-Fi Style is pretty darn small. That’s not quite as tiny as an iPod shuffle, but it does come with a color display. Through that display, you can navigate through Creative’s colorful menu.

Always to be held in landscape orientation, this portable media has a five way navigator to the left of the screen, as well as a pair of two-button modules: one above and one below. On each of these modules are two little icons, indicating that the buttons are used to access the menu, go back, play/pause, and so forth.

I can appreciate the effort for added convenience, but this may be too many buttons for a device like this. Simplicity wins and that’s why people like the click wheel. Even the Microsoft Zune is simpler.

The headphone jack is located to one side of the device and next to that is the mini-USB port. This port is used both for transferring files and for charging the internal battery. On the top are the power/lock button and the microphone. The back is where you’ll find the built-in speaker.

The two tone approach for the Creative ZEN X-Fi Style really does give it a dash of style, but the cheaper-looking plastic clearly indicates that this is not a premium device. That said, the mic and embedded speaker are quite handy.

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