Creative Zen Nano Plus
At a Glance
Creative Zen Nano Plus 1GB MP3 Player - Black (Internal Flash, FM Tuner, 18 Hours)
Top-of-the-line audio quality for a low price. It includes an armband, but the earbuds are so-so. Uses one AAA battery.
Creative's 1GB Zen Nano Plus turned in great results in PC World's new audio-quality tests, and, at $109 (as of 4/13/06), the inexpensive flash-based player is quite full-featured. The Nano Plus includes an FM tuner and records from a variety of sources including FM radio, an internal microphone, and a line-in port.
The player uses a standard mini-USB port to let you sync tracks via USB 2.0. You can simply drag files to the device using whatever folder structure you like, or use Windows Media Player or Creative's MediaSource app to aid you in synching your favorite songs. Creative's familiar jog dial lets you thumb through folders and songs fairly efficiently, aided by the Zen Nano's backlit LCD display. The device supports the standard set of codecs, including MP3, WMA, and Audible.
In our audio-quality tests, the Zen Nano Plus produced less distortion and noise than almost all the other flash-based players, and earned the highest overall score for audio quality in this category.
Like most low-priced MP3 players, the Zen Nano Plus has a few drawbacks. Creative's decision to power the device using a standard AAA battery is both a blessing and a curse: It's nice to be able to swap in a fresh battery without recharging, but, at a rated 18 hours per battery, you'll be racking up battery bills rather quickly if you use disposables.
The Nano Plus also lacks a key-lock feature, making accidental button presses a possibility when you're carrying the player in a pocket or bag. Finally, though the inclusion of a standard mini-USB port is appreciated, a standard-size USB port would let the player double as a flash drive much more easily.
Still, if you don't mind using a AAA battery with your audio player, Creative's Zen Nano Plus is a great value. Its audio quality is impressive for a flash-based model, and, despite its low price, it managed to pack in most of the features we look for in an inexpensive MP3 player.