Creative ZEN Touch 2 review

Android-based personal music player
Photo of Creative ZEN Touch 2
£8GB, £149.99 ; 16GB, £159.99 inc VAT; 8GB version with GPS, £159.99

Personal music players are nothing new. But long-time maker Creative’s new ZEN Touch 2 is something a bit different. It runs Android, the operating system that has set the smartphone sector alight – and it’s a far cry from the blocky, black-and-white-screened original ZEN Touch.

The Creative ZEN Touch 2 comes in three versions. The 8GB model costs £149.99, while the 16GB model costs £159.99. Both of these sport a microSD card slot on one edge, which enables you to add up to 32GB more storage. Lastly, there’s a version of the 8GB model that features built-in GPS.

Very like a phone
The Creative ZEN Touch 2 looks and feels so much like a phone that you’ll wonder why Creative hasn’t gone the whole hog and thrown in SIM support. You’ve got Android 2.1 providing the control system, and the device itself is roughly the size and weight you’d expect of a modern mobile, at 120x60x13mm and 122g, respectively. For many people, carrying this around is going to be like carrying a second mobile .

There are some compromises. There are a mere three home screens to populate with widgets, and the array of widgets is less than you’d get on a mobile, but the look and feel is similar.

There’s Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and even a rotating screen and 2-megapixel camera on board. There’s an 8GB version that comes with GPS – but no 16GB version with it, which seems odd. The build quality is, to be frank, more shoddy than we are used to seeing in Mobile phones.

Updated model
The original Creative ZEN Touch was an iPod Classic-like white block with touch controls and a small monochrome screen. So things have really moved on here, with a 3.2in, 480×320-pixel touchscreen. It’s resistive, though, and not hugely responsive to screen taps. Also, Creative has hamstrung Android by removing the Market and requiring you to use its ZiioSpace instead, streamlining down the full range of apps.

On our 8GB non-GPS review version, there was access to Email but no Google Maps; to a web browser but not YouTube; to a calculator but not a calendar. The Pure Android Audio widget is one of just a few on board. It lets you connect Bluetooth headphones easily.

Lacking musicality
The absence of an FM radio on the device is a real irritation. If you want one, you’ll have to opt for the 8GB GPS-equipped version. The music player can manage playlists and party shuffle modes, but in the end it’s audio quality that lets things down.

The onboard speaker is quiet. Quality through the provided headphones is OK, but not fantastic. Substituting headphones does improve things, though. Worse, for a music player, there’s no equaliser.

Company: Creative

Positives
  • Ability to extend built-in storage using microSD cards.
Negative
  • Hampering Android by removing apps; no equaliser; no FM radio in two versions.

Verdict

We don't see what Creative is trying to achieve with the ZEN Touch 2. It has hampered Android by removing some software features including the full Android Market, and doesn't boost audio quality enough.