Creative Zen Mosaic (8GB) review

Its video presentation might not be up to much, but this Creative excels with audio and it's affordable too! Tested at £70.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Old-school simplicity married to cute looks and cracking audio gets the Creative a solid recommendation


  • +

    Dinky dimensions and unique design

  • +

    surprisingly musical performer

  • +

    superbly simple to operate


  • -

    Video playback is a waste of time

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There's nothing wrong with having a player that just plays audio. For most people looking for an ultra-portable, that's exactly what they're after, especially if it's cheap.

That's why it's so bewildering that Creative's even bothered building video compatibility into the Zen Mozaic – the screen is so small and, well, rubbish, the whole exercise is a complete waste of time.

Get that into your head from the start, though, and there's actually a lot to love about this cute little player.

For a start, there's its physical design – the Zen is tiny, looks unique with its mosaic effect, and has a nice soft-touch case.

It's a delightful, solid object
This really is a delightful object that feels much more solid than you might expect and proves a welcome antithesis to the slightly pretentious, ultra-glossy styling of the majority of its rivals.

The Mozaic's list of compatible formats might be less than exhaustive, but the major bases are covered – you've got the MP3 and WMA space-savers, and WAV for your uncompressed tunes.

As mentioned, it will play AVI videos, too, but we reckon we've made our feelings on that fairly clear.

Just because the screen's poor at displaying movies doesn't mean it's an issue for everyday operation. The menus and fonts are basic, but bright and clear – this is a player your gran could work out.

Dynamic delivery impresses
In keeping with the theme of the test, the headphones are appalling, both in terms of the sound they deliver and their general fit and form, but swap them for a more capable pair and the Creative proves to be a surprisingly sweet performer.

It might not quite have the bite and brilliance of the iPod nano, but a 320kbps MP3 of Ben Kweller's Changing Horses is insightful, rhythmic and weighty.

There's also decent dynamism to the delivery, especially when you move up to an uncompressed WAV.

As with the other non-Apple players we've tested, getting content on the device is done quickly and easily through drag-and-drop or Windows Media Player.

Creative does bundle software in the box, but it's not particularly feature-laden or nice to use, and as you won't be putting video on the Mozaic, you might as well leave it there.

It's fair to say this little Zen was a pleasant surprise. It's cute, compact, and very affordable – what's more, it's actually a very capable performer, too.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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