Creative N200

With the large hard drive-based MP3 market sewn up, and flash drives increasing in size, companies are turning their sights on the flash based sector. Creative’s answer is to keep the models coming but are they doing enough? We take a look at the N200.

Available in a polished white, the N200 is virtually identical to the V200 bar the inclusion of a line-in feature. Like that model follows in the same footsteps as the previous flash based MuVo players.

We tested the 256Mb version. However you can get a 128Mb version for those on a tight budget and a 512Mb and 1Gb player for those wishing to push the boat out. Assuming a 4-minute track time, Creative estimate you can get 16hours of playback on the 1GB version.

That 16 hours is slightly more than the 15 hours of playback the AAA battery offers and you can bet the technicians at Creative are kicking themselves for not being able to reach that 16hour marker.

Unlike the V200 the player comes in one piece and it’s smaller in size, but only just. The payoff is that you’ll need a USB cable to connect to a PC or Mac, but like the V200 the connection speed is USB2.0 so music transfer to and from the device is painless.

Like previous players in the range the N200 is capable of supporting WMA, MP3 and WAV playback and again like previous players there is no need to install any proprietary software. This has two main advantages; firstly that songs can be simply dragged across on to the unit’s drive, and that it’s Mac and PC compatible.

In our tests, sound was very good for the price and the accompanying headphones in the box coped well with everything we could throw at it - For test purposes we played the same tracks on it as the V200 and whether it was Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit or Sting, the unit was identical to its partner in crime.

Our one concern however with the headphones is that they are white making people automatically think you’re carrying an iPod. While some might wish this, we are sure any mugger (they has been a spate of these white headphone induced muggings in London, New York etc) will be doubly pissed off if they have mugged you hoping for a 20Gb player and ended up with something a little smaller. While we don’t care whether criminals are happy with their loot, we still say change the cans.

Like the V200, the N200 also comes with a FM radio and built-in microphone and thus 15-16 hours worth of recording, however unlike the V200 Creative has opted to include a line-in option, meaning you can encode to MP3 straight from a CD Walkman or tape cassette player and then transfer your encoded files off the player on to your computer’s hard drive. The encoding, which supports 96kbps, 128kbps and 160kbps can be set via the on screen menu and the player can either be set to sync the tracks once sound is heard or done on the fly like you perhaps used to do with old twin tape cassette decks.

Verdict

Creative's N200 is still like the V200, catalogue filler material for all intents and purposes. That's not to say it's a bad player, far from it, the sound is good, the connectivity great and the line-in feature with on the fly encoding a godsend if you've got lots of files that you need to transfer over to MP3. Overall, it's a complete package that offers what it sets out to do. Style wise, it's rather run of the mill. Basic, but good.