Is Creative’s Zen Touch the antidote to Apple iPod envy?

“Apple Computer’s iPod remains the king of digital music players, but robust pretenders to the throne have begun to emerge in the Windows universe. One of them is the Zen Touch, from Creative Labs… which compares favorably with the iPod,” John P. Mello Jr. writes for The Boston Globe. “Selling on the Internet from $219 to $254, a 20-gigabyte model will put less of a dent in a bank account than comparable Apple units, which cost $289 to $299.”

“Its controls are more conventionally designed than the iPod’s. I found them more intuitive to use. Call me hopelessly reactionary, but I like dedicated buttons to turn an appliance on and off and to raise and lower the volume. The Zen Touch has them; the iPod doesn’t. I also found the Creative unit’s touchpad more instinctive to use. Its vertical shape better reflects its function — moving a selector up and down on its 2.1-inch screen — than the iPod’s circular arrangement,” Mello Jr. writes.

“While the iPod is wedded to one PC jukebox, iTunes, and primarily one music store, Apple’s, the Zen Touch can accept purchased music from a variety of Internet listening posts, such as MusicMatch and Napster,” Mello Jr. writes. “Better yet, the Creative music player is compatible with the recently released Microsoft Windows Media Player version 10. A nice feature of that software is that it supports multiple storefronts. That allows you to transfer tracks bought at several online stores to the Zen Touch through a single application.”

Mello Jr. writes, “The Zen Touch is a next-generation digital music player that gives listeners flexibility not found in the Apple universe. For PC users, it’s an antidote to iPod envy.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Who needs an “antidote to iPod envy” when one can purchase an actual iPod that works with Mac and Windows? Flexibility? iPod users have iTunes with the world’s largest library at the same or better prices. Some of us, gasp, even prefer AAC to WMA. Microsoft’s fouled up the PC world so much, do you want them to foul up your music, too? iPod’s control wheel is patented for a reason and it sure isn’t surpassed by a bunch of dedicated buttons; only the most hopeless Windows PC user would believe Zen beats iPod here. Since when does cluttered redundancy trump minimal elegance? Face it, if you met your friend somewhere and pulled out your iPod, he’d leave his Zen Touch securely in his pocket unmentioned. And that, dear readers, is just the way it is, no matter what John P. Mello Jr. scribbles.


  1. Mello’s real first name is Marsh. I’ve used a Creative Zen Touch and I’ve used an Apple iPod. There is no comparison. That is why I sold my Zen Touch on eBay and continue to use my Apple iPod today. Mello must be nuts or getting a kickback from Creative.

  2. There will always be this kind of reaction to any successful product. The iPod is not immediately intuitive to someone who is used to more conventional players with more conventional controls. (Though it should take no more than a minute or two to become familiar with it).

    But it’s the popularity that will mark it out as undesireable to many. Many do not want to be seen as sheep, and the overwhelming success of the iPod has attracted a lot of sheep (lucky sheep, but still sheep).

    I’m glad I got my 1st Gen on the day of release nearly 3 (?) years ago. Plenty of people though it was ludicrously expensive and some dismissed it as being a Mac toy that they couldn’t possibly be interested in (they all have iPods now). I can imagine myself now, if I wasn’t an Apple fan, choosing something else just to be different. It’s no big deal.

    Having said that, this is not objective. It’s just an opinion.

    To dismiss other players without seeing them, or trying them, (as I suspect is true of MDN), is also hardly the epitome of objectivity either. Something better will come along one day and it may not be from Apple. It seem likely that us Mac fans could miss the boat because we’ve dismissed something while bleating, “Yeah right ! No way is that as good as the Apple way.. That thing sucks”.

    I have great faith in fools; My friends call it self-confidence.

    ~ Edgar Allan Poe ~

  3. I think he means it’s no antidote to the iPod for Mac users. But what sense would there be in marketing a product like this to us ? It would have exceed the iPod by some margin. Until they have such a product, time spent on writing an iTunes equivalent to use the damn thing is utterly worthless.

  4. the ipod is a status symbol. somehow, if you have an ipod, you’re cool. any other player is just a step down. they are kias in a world of beamers. shasta in a world of coke. and you know whenever you go to a party, and they have shasta instead of coke, you think twice about having a drink.

  5. I agree with Dr. Quinn.
    If you have something other than an iPod, you’re percieved as uncool and cheap. The iPod community continues to gather converts. And it has set the standard to which all other music players are judged.

  6. Apple’s on a really good roll and the end is not yet in sight. I think there could be a real resurgence going on here. With Steve at the helm they have a very good chance of cementing their position for many many years to come. Good Job Apple!!!!

    That said, Hywel is right in that nothing lasts forever. It is just important that Apple capitalize on their current advantage and take enough ground that even if a pull back is seen, they will have made a lot of net progress. AND never discount the Next Great Thing! If anyone can come up with it, it is Apple.

  7. MDN .. you shouldn’t dismiss some product just because it is not from Apple

    this product uses more buttons .. that is a fact …
    but their use of a touchpad is new in some way.
    nobody can use the apple click wheel because it is patented

    this sort of control is not bad either in my opinion ..
    btw. i have an iPod ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

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