Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Creative MuVo N200

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Creative MuVo N200 (1Gb version)

I have this small player for more than 9 months now. A pretty small wonder. So far I'm satisfied with this player in general. I still wish some changes though ;) I will cover it later.

This review might be outdated, but hopefully still usefull for those who is looking for second hand MP3 player.

I had a 'not responding player' problem at the first time, but solved with firmware upgrade. So don't forget to upgrade firmware if you buy it. Actually I did upgrade the firmware twice, the first one to solve the problem mentioned above, the second time was to solve FM radio problem. Now it is working as it should :)

As an MP3 or WMA player, this small player performs very well. Overall sound is good for such a small player. Some people said it sounds better than iPod, but I don't think so. It sounds about the same as iPod when playing MP3 (320 kbps, I didn't try WMA). But it offers more functions than iPod (Line In recording, FM radio, FM recording, & voice recording) ^_^

The sound quite neutral, the bass a bit weak and less punchy. But it is compared to my Panasonic PCDP SL-CT810. For a player powered with 1xAAA battery, I have no complaint, just boost the bass a bit with it's custom equalizer (yes it has custome eq), then the bass sounds pretty decent (bigger but still less puchy).

The midrange and treble is fine, neutral and enjoyable, pretty good for such a tiny player.

The supplied earphone is average quality, weak bass, a bit dull treble, with a bit dominant midrange. But quite listenable and neutral. Anyway, I never use the supplied earphone anyway. I use this N200 with my other headphones (Sony MDR-E888, Audio Technica ATH-EW9, Grado RS-1).

I like the way they create the menu, it is simple and fast enough for a player with one line display and only a few buttons. No problem with it, I didn't even read the manual to operate all the functions.

The Line In recording is amazing. The quality is very good, with selectable MP3 bit rate: 96 kbps, 128 kbps, and 160 kbps (the highest).

The FM radio do the auto scan very fast, and the FM quality is good. A very nice feature (compare to iPod :p )

The FM recording is just average, not high quality, ADPCM format (.WAV) 16 kHz 4 bit, fixed. This is something that should be improved to MP3 format recording.

The voice recording is my only complaint, ADPCM format (.WAV) 8 kHz 4 bit, fixed. Poor quality voice recording, sounds muffle, good enough to record personal note, not good enough to record lecture, when the lecturer is a few meters away from the recorder. Only sufficient for close distance recording. I really wish Creative would improve it with MP3 format recording.

I wish Creative will give a higher quality FM and voice recording, make it the same quality and format as the line in recording.

The battery seems last long enough, still full after a few hours listening. When the battery show less than full, it seems that after I let it off for a few hours, the battery will recover some power, and it sometime shows full again. I guess it is a normal behaviour of Alkaline Battery.

Compare with iPod shuffle, this player is more expensive (around SGD 300.- for the 1 Gb. I bought slightly less :P ), but offers more function, and....DISPLAY..... Yes 'DISPLAY'... I can't imagine people can live with MP3 player without display.....

With 1 Gb memory (around 994 Mb usable) I can store around 7-8 CD albums in 320 kbps MP3 quality ^_^ Good enough for me.

Recommended mini player, for those looking for flash base (more durable than harddisk), very light and small audio player. And don't forget the AAA battery, that means you don't have to worry about the 'end of life' of those propietary Li-Ion Battery in a few years down the road ;)

Things I wish to be improved by Creative (for this model, or the next small player in this category):
1. More capacity please, 2 or 4 Gb would be nice.
2. MP3 format for FM and voice recording.
3. Supports Lossless format like 'WMA Lossless', FLAC, & 'MP4 Lossless'.
4. Proven and Tested Firmware before they launched the product.

Note:

Firmware upgrade to version 1.16.02 gave some improvement, espescially to the volume. With previous firmware the max volume was 35, and I ussually has to set to 32-33 for normal listening level on the street (noise environment with 'clip on' headphone). With new firmware 1.16.02, the max level now 25, and I just need to set it to 17-18 to get the same listening level on the street. So the volume is significantly louder now :) "Recommended upgrade".

Creative has launch new version of this MuVo N200, now it is called Zen Nano Plus. Not sure if there is any different in features. The available capacity are still the same 512Mb and 1Gb. I wish to have more capacity with this tiny player :D

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