Creative’s Zen V Plus packs in a lot of music and video functionality into a very tiny body, although its rather pedestrian interface lets it down quite a bit. Still, with good audio and video quality and a decent price, it’s a good, but not great, player.
The first thing that strikes you about the V Plus is how tiny it is – at just 43.5 x 67.5 x 15.9 mm it’s highly reminiscent of a Tic-Tac case. It’s also the beneficiary of a rather striking visual design, with a solid swirl on the back of the player and a contrasting colour scheme – orange and black in our review sample – that makes it stand out from the rest of the mainly black music player pack.
The V Plus might look as though it’s using a scrollwheel and three buttons, but the orange circle is just that – a solid plastic circle with no playback functions. It surrounds a truly tiny joystick that’s used for most selection functions, with the Play and Back buttons used for everything else. Context-sensitive functions are handled by longer presses of the back button.
Setup of the Zen V Plus involves charging it – a supplied standard USB cable will do the trick for up to 15 hours of playback time – and synchronising files to the player. You can use either Windows Explorer, Windows Media Player 10 (or better), or Creative’s own MediaSource software. The install for the Creative software involves a lot of smaller applications which launch from MediaSource itself, including software for converting video files and transferring them to the Zen V Plus.
Even though the interface of the V Plus isn’t that complicated – essentially three buttons cover every task – we found the actual use of the player to be on the fiddly side. The buttons aren’t particularly responsive, and it seems like a design waste to have only two of them on the right-hand side and nothing on the left, and the joystick is exceptionally small, which is a problem for those with larger digits.
Conversely, once we did get files playing, we were exceptionally pleased with the V Plus; audio playback and battery life were good, and while the V Plus’ size means you’re putting up with a rather small screen, video clarity and colour reproduction, especially, were very good, even at that scale.
We tested with the 1GB version of the Zen V Plus (it’s also available in 2GB and 4GB flavours with different colour schemes) and noticed that our re-encoded videos on the V Plus tended to be much larger than those on other video-capable music players; this is especially a concern on a player with only 1GB of storage.
If you’ve got smaller pockets and want an exceptionally portable flash-based player, the Zen V Plus is a decent choice, although you’ll need to invest some time in getting used to its somewhat slow and quirky interface.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Tiny size, direct CD recording, video support, good display.
Clumsy interface, re-encoded video files a bit too large, lots of applications to manage.