Written on: 23/05/2007 by Sony Fan (32 reviews written)
Plays both WMA and MP3 files
Easy to add or remove tracks
Controls are pretty fiddly
Interface isn't really intuitive
I liked my Zen Xtra so much that I bought a second one.
I've been using MP3 format for about 10 years now and I had owned 5 different MP3-playing portable devices before the Zen, but none of them had really proved good enough to become my main source of music. The Zen has changed that for several reasons.
Firstly, it's got huge storage capacity. I have hundreds of CDs and I'm not the type who can put up with music that's been squeezed down to a very low bit rate. Most of what I've ripped already has been at 192KBit/s (WMA) so even at that level of quality I can load-up over 5,000 of my favourite tracks.
Secondly, the quality of output is good enough for me to actually consider connecting my second Zen to my home hi-fi, instead of my CD player - which is something I'd sworn I'd never do, until I listened to the Xtra.
Thirdly, the battery life is good enough for it not to be an issue. I leave the Zen in my glovebox (connected to my car stereo) and it only needs charging one every 2-3 weeks.
There are drawbacks of course. The user interface and the controls mean that finding the right track can take a little while, and it is pretty reliant on the presence of ID tags on the tracks as it doesn't seem to use drive folders for playback navigation. Plus it's too big to slip into any of my pockets.
But overall, the Zen does enough to change my opinion of MP3 players for the better, and I'm even considering buying a third one to hook-up to the stereo in my bedroom!