We were recently sent two of Creative’s latest products, one of which we have recently reviewed is the new Zen Style 300 8GB digital music player / portable media player (PMP).
You can tell straight from the specs and features, that the designers of the Zen Style 300 at Creative were keen on producing another PMP that was affordable yet packed all the functions that a user would ever need (or not need). Much like the Creative Zen Mozaic, the end result is a super-music player that “does it all”. The new carry on to the Zen series label PMP which we received was the 8GB version. Its features included music and video playback, FM radio with 32 preset stations, alarm, calendar, microphone, and photo viewer. All this though, is controlled via six buttons and a tiny 1.8-inch non-touchscreen 128 x 160 colour TFT display – not the most comfortable combination. With regards to its display, even for a basic PMP, I would not have expected qualities to be similar to what reminded me of my old Sony Ericsson K700i mobile phone.
The Zen Style 300 is tiny, just 8 cm in length and is therefore smaller than most people’s palm. Its not got a particularly sexy design and because of its miniature size, the majority of its buttons are too down-sized, as a result those with even slightly fatter finger pulps will suffer. What is impressive is that Creative have managed to cram in a built-in speaker of reasonable quality, again offering features which some rivalry companies wouldn’t in their shall we say entry level digital music player. We had no issues with music playback and sound quality was more or less satisfactory, this was not helped at all by fairly basic earphones that came with the box as pictured. The built-in speakers were not capable of heavy bass at high volumes as expected but you’d find these speakers surprisingly pleasant at even the highest volumes. Apart from music and FM radio, we found ourselves pondering how useful other features offered by the Zen Style 300 actually were. Arguably the microphone function may come in handy at some point, however, the quality of its display can only be described as astonishingly pixelfied, making any video experience on the teensy screen a joke to behold. Nonetheless, if you do plan on playing videos on it, you can expect decent volume from its built-in speaker and that videos would load pretty instantaneously.
What the Zen Style 300 therefore is, is a bottom-of-the-food-chain level PMP that nearly offers everything one can imagine and expect to have (with the exception of touchscreen, and video recording capability as those are rather luxurious and not within our expectation). We enjoyed its lightweightedness and compact nature, despite this, there are downfalls to its new design compared to its predecessors, most notably the control keys. The Zen Style 300 isn’t going to be as trendy as iPods, but its shed load of features, capacity and relative pricing makes it somewhat competitive. Nevertheless, even if you’re only just a touch tech-savvy, you’ll naturally be considering the option of either paying less for a smaller capacity iPod Shuffle, or slightly more for an iPod Nano. For those not keen on Apple products and want to stick with Creative, we would suggest you consider the similar sized Creative Zen MX or alternatively, the SanDisk Sansa Clip+ as well as the Archos 2.
- Shed load of features
- Decent quality built-in speaker
- 3.5 mm audio jack
- Plastic, cheap feel
- Poor quality display
- Not so user-friendly buttons
- Very basic earphones
- Lack of volume keys
- No memory card slot