Well, the support of different audio formats, the extensive menu structure, the service functions and a lot of other things that make the Zen Micro such a highly functional player are all written by the manufacturer into its firmware, and the chip that stores the firmware can be reprogrammed. For the player to be always up to date, the Creative tech support service regularly puts firmware updates on their website. To update the firmware, you should copy the files from this website, connect the player to the computer, launch the application, click the Upgrade button, and follow the onscreen instructions.
Right now there are two firmware updates available there. The first update solves some problems with charging the battery from an external power supply, improves the sensitivity of the touch pads, removes undesired sounds during WAV-files playback, and improves the identification of the player in the “Removable Disk” mode. The second update appeared very recently and I haven’t had much time to test it. The manufacturer says version 2.00.12 fully supports Windows Media Player 10 (by the way, this version of the Media Player is included among the software titles on the installation CD) and Windows XP without any additional drivers or software. Besides, the Drag-and-Drop technique in the Windows Explorer is supported. So, if you purchase a Zen Micro, I advise you to download and install the firmware updates as soon as possible.
As for the power consumption of the Zen Micro, the manufacturer says a fully charged accumulator can last as long as 12 hours of continuous operation. That’s enough for city, but it wouldn’t do to take the player with you on long tourist trips. The accumulator is removable, but I haven’t seen one in shops. Of course, it’s a problem if you can’t easily find a replacement battery, but a minor one.
I measured the read and write speed of the disk drive employed in the Zen Micro in our FC Test utility. The results are presented in the following diagram:
This diagram allows estimating how fast the player performs file read and copy operations. You may be interested in these numbers if you’re going to use your Zen Micro as a portable storage medium, too.
Having used the player for a while I am very pleased with its functionality and ergonomics as well as with a very high quality of its sound. I listened to audio tracks digitized from an IASCA Competition CD and the sound was crisp and clear even at the maximum volume level.