The Creative Zen line has long been a cult favorite among some audiophiles – not a surprise for a company that got its start making sound cards. At IFA 2011 in Berlin, Creative announced that they are putting even more focus on faithful reproduction with their new mp3 player – the Zen X-Fi3.
The X-Fi3 will be Bluetooth compatible, for wireless headphones. If that sounds like it runs counter to the focus on high fidelity sound, keep in mind that Creative has been working on Bluetooth headphones designed with audiophiles in mind. The apt-X codec inside the Zen X-Fi3 guarantees wireless transmission that boasts the sound quality of a wired connection.
The X-Fi3 repairs sound files that have lost some details at high or low ranges using the X-Fi Crystalizer, bringing your traditional music formats closer to what lossless formats sound like. X-Fi Expand technology moves the earphone stereo sources away from your ears, giving you an expanded sound reminiscent of high-end padded headphones on the market.
Of course, support for lossless formats like FLAC is present, as is support for the most common file types – .mp3, .wma, and .m4a (iTunes). If you have videos on your X-Fi3, video-out functionality is present, taking images from the Zen’s 2” screen to a TV or computer screen quickly and easily.
The X-Fi 3 will come in 8 GB and 16 GB models, both of which feature a microSD card slot enabling as much as 32 extra GB of storage. There’s also a built-in microphone, and battery life of 20 hours for audio playback and 5 hours for video playback.
The Creative Zen has always had a quiet reputation as a respectable, less expensive alternative to the iPod, and this model looks to keep that reputation intact. The Zen X-Fi3 retails at a modest $99.99 for the 8 GB model, and $139.99 for the 16 GB model. Sounds pretty good so far.