Creative's superslim Zen has an attractive 2.5in colour display, an FM tuner, a built-in microphone, robust video- and photo-viewing capabilities and the ability to import contact management information. And the Creative Zen 8GB even plays music.
The Creative Zen 8GB is about the size and shape of a standard-issue business-card case and comes in several other capacities: 2GB for £56, 16GB for £159 and the top-end 32GB for £249. All models have a built-in SD Card slot for an instant storage upgrade.
The Zen's tested signal-to-noise ratio of 77dB is decent (the higher the number, the cleaner and more hiss-free the signal). The Creative Zen 8GB's custom five-band equaliser also helped to bring out the best in a variety of high-bitrate MP3s.
This jack-of-all-trades Creative Zen 8GB can handle most audio formats, too, including unprotected iTunes AAC files. It can't play Flac or Ogg Vorbis codecs, however.
For video, the Creative Zen 8GB works with Mpeg4, DivX4, DivX5, XviD and WMV files and comes with the simple Video Converter software.
A standard mini-USB jack lets you sync and power the Creative Zen 8GB, while navigation is via a directional pad and four dedicated hardware buttons. These enable you to quickly drill down through the menus.
Another solid aspect of the Creative Zen 8GB is its long-lasting battery. Expect around a 30-hour playtime for audio files and five hours for video.
The Creative Zen 8GB lacks the Wi-Fi capabilities of the iPod touch, but has plenty else going for it and is a great choice for gadgeteers and audiophiles alike. A worthy award-winner.