Zen Touch

june 14, 2004

Creative is at it again. This time they are releasing the Zen Touch which is a bit thicker, wider and heavier than the iPod, but looks to be much smaller than the Zen XTRA. It comes in a white that is, err, reminiscent of the iPod's color. It also comes with a "Touch Pad Control for fast scrolling", sounds kind of like the iPod also. The one thing that is striking about the unit that does not sound like the iPod is the claimed 24 hours of playback. I am always skeptical about the manufacturer's claims about playback time and as a general rule of thumb say that the playback time will only be about 80% of the claimed playback time. That would still make the playback time of the Zen Touch somewhere around 20 hours. Now that is kind of impressive. But, having owned and returned three different Nomad units -- the first Nomad 5GB and the orginal Zen got returned while the 30GB Zen broke -- I have to say that although all the specs sound great, the Zen units are never a joy to use. If Creative has not updated that OS of theirs for the Zen Touch, then they are really putting themselves in a bad position. The Zen OS is just hard to use and requires way too much input to do simple stuff -- it makes listening to music a chore rather than a joy. By the looks at the pictures that Amazon has posted, the Zen OS looks to be just the same one as the one that is loaded on the Zen XTRA. That is bad news for those of you with PCs who are looking for an iPod alternative (but, why the hell would you look for an iPod alternative?) Creative also has not coughed up any Macintosh support so that makes them unwanted by me also. But, it does look like an interesting unit. They are taking pre-orders now, it can be had for $269 at Amazon.