My new Creative Zen Micro & Radio 4


Nice. Very nice. 5GB storage in a tiny form factor. I've sync'd 2300 tracks with my Media Center and there's room for a few more. It sounds fantastic. I've gone for the white one and while a little reminiscent of the iPod I have to admit it doesn't match it for design purity. But what the heck - I wanted the extra storage, better price, WMA compatibility, replaceable battery and the FM Radio.

Picture of Zen Micro

That brings me to my only problem with it - my FM reception is awful. I've arranged to return this unit in case I've just got a faulty one. I was hoping to have anytime anywhere access to Radio 4 but that's not going to happen unless my replacement is significantly better... [Update - I have received my replacement and the FM reception is much better so I put this down to a faulty unit.]

Radio 4 is just one of those things that improves with age (not Radio 4's age, your age). I find myself lost in a strange world of Gardners' Question Time (I'm not interested in gardening), Veg Talk (I'm not that interested in vegetables) and even The Archers (if I leave work at the wrong time and miss the comedy). But when will they make their content available in a Windows Media Player compatible format? I don't want to install another Media Player just to listen to Radio 4 programmes... 🙁

Comments (8)
  1. Can you explain what you mean by "extra storage, better price"?

    The Creative Zen Micro is $240 list, $220 street, for 5GB

    The original iPod Mini is $200 list, $180 street, for 4GB.

    The new iPod Mini is $250 list for 6 GB.

    Doesn’t the Zen support MP4? AAC is just Apple’s name for MP4, it’s not an Apple format.

  2. Mike Ormond says:

    Hi Peter. Well, I live in the UK and prices are often a little different (read: more expensive) here. I purchased my Zen Micro for £155 which compared favourably with the best price I could find for the iPod Mini of around £165 at the time. And of course I also get an FM tuner included (which I wanted). I’m not sure about MP4 support – it was WMA support specifically I was looking for. Mike

  3. Jeff Parker says:

    Hey Mike I just noticed your post I just bought one of these, Monday here in the states. I got to tell you I love mine. I partitioned 4 gigs to Music and then set one gig to be a USB drive. Also some features I like are Outlook sincs for calendar.

    I also had problems with Radio Reception. When I got mine I just did a Firmware update on it, mine came with Firmware V1 I upgraded to V2.2 and radio works good now. Also new Firmware does all Sincing through Windows Media Player 10 and can be controls via windows Media player really havent even opened the additional software yet.

  4. Mike Ormond says:

    Hi Jeff. Yes – I upgraded the firmware as soon as I got mine too. The sync’ing with WMP is fantastic. I learned the hard way that it’s a good idea to create a ‘sync playlist’ and then sync that with the player (as opposed to creating a ‘transient’ playlist as part of the sync – you run this risk of losing it which is annoying).

    I’ve not partitioned a USB drive yet – too difficult to decide which albums I’d need to give up! I like the idea of the organiser features (such as calendar & contacts) but I’m lucky enough to have a C500 Smartphone so have no need for them right now.

  5. Chris Mac says:

    I bought a Zen Micro 10 days ago – great MP3 but the radio was awful and an upgrade to the next firmware version – (not the XP only version) -had no effect.

    Does the latest XP-only version really improve the FM radio reception?

    I live about 1km from a 2kW relay of BBC Radios 1-4, BB Berks and Classic FM. These signals romp in on all other radios without the aerial extended.

    I took it back to the shop to the shop today, to try another unit – even worse! – then tried another…..ahhh an improvement of sorts.

    It is still pretty iffy on FM. This is not a great FM radio, but is probably the best I will get unless there is a firmware improvement – even a mono/stereo option would help. The problem seems to be lack of RF gain. In a US conurbation with 50kW signals flying around the Zen’s FM may be OK. Not much good in the UK and Europe though.

    How long have small FM radios been made? So, there is no excuse for a poor FM section from Creative – especially as it is not a standalone feature, but the radio recording feature depends on it.

    [ENDS]

  6. Mike Ormond says:

    Chris, I’m on firmware version 2.00.12 (the "PlaysForSure" version) which integrates with WMP10. Having said in my blog entry that my replacement player had better radio reception than the original, I’m still not happy with it. I have a support call logged with Creative. The wierd thing is that the reception is okay when the backlight is on but degrades markedly when the backlight goes out. I assume other powersave features are kicking in at the same time and causing this behaviour.

  7. MikeOrmond says:

    Just received the following from Creative support: "There should be a newer firmware that will be released in 2-3 weeks time. this update will improve the radio reception." Fingers crossed !

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