Simplicity is everything!
So, the player’s in my hands. The Zen Micro is true to its name as it is the smallest in the family (here are some numbers for you to compare: the dimensions of the Zen Touch are 68 x 105 x 22mm against the Zen Micro’s 51 x 84 x 19mm). This miniaturization was made possible by the use of a 1” hard disk drive and of a flat Li-Ion accumulator. As a result, the size of the Zen Micro is close to that of a typical flash-based player. The new Zen is also lighter than its predecessor (108g against 203g), and again, I’m talking about a player with a hard disk drive rather than with chips of flash memory inside!
The functionality of the player didn’t suffer from its small size. I’d even say it’s improved. The developer equipped the device with a rather large and very informative LCD display. It’s smaller than the display of the Zen Touch, but the resolution (160x104 pixels) remained the same. You control the player using five touch pads the sensitivity of which can be set up in the settings menu. The device fits snugly into the palm and you can do all the control manipulations using just your thumb. You may remember that the Zen Touch had only one touch pad that was pressed to control the sound volume and to navigate the menu system. That single pad gave the name to the previous model, but now the manufacturer extended this feature to all the buttons.
The photograph above gives you a notion of what the new player from Creative looks like. We have got a black-and-white coloring here, but there are many other colors available to anyone’s taste. The blue highlighting of the touch pads and of the bezel around the front panel looks admirable whatever the color of the case, though.
A USB port, a headphones socket and a microphone port are found on the player’s top. There’s also a power-off slider here, which also blocks the touch pads. When you turn the player on, the display highlighting is growing up smoothly, and after a couple of seconds of booting up the Zen Micro is ready to work.
Now I want to say a few bitter words about the software you can use with a Zen Micro. I’m not pleased at all that it’s necessary to install the exclusive software and driver (depending on the OS) for the player to communicate with the computer successfully. That is, the player remains an “identified device” to the system if you attach it to the PC and do not install the driver. That’s sad because many people use their portable digital players as a storage medium to share files between computers, and many manufacturers make their players support the generic OS driver. Such devices just add a new letter with a label “removable disk” in any file manager and you can work with them as with any other disk. Creative, on the contrary, is trying to push the user to work in Creative’s exclusive programs. They offer a rather complex Creative Media Source utility, which is not handy, but they are also changing the interface of their own file manager every now and again, without preserving any continuity.