Creative's newest player on the block is the Creative Zen Sleek, so called because it has aspirations of being a sleek, slim player. But has the player got what it takes, or is it just yet another could-have-been? Pocket-lint puts it to the test to find out.
Encased in durable aluminium and a glossy white finish it's as if the iPod mini has grown up and spawned its parents. The monochrome 2in screen is roughly the same size as its main competitor, the 20Gb iPod, but lacks the colour and therefore picture support of its competitors like the iPod and iRiver's players.
The front is adorned with a myriad of buttons for playing, pausing, skip tracks, accessing the menu controlling the volume and menu control via the sliding touch pad in the centre.
We are still struggling to understand what is sleek about the player. The published stats compared to the iPod are very similar, with Creative's sleek winning slightly (The iPod's are 104x61x16 compared to the Sleek's 101x59x17) but in the looks department the player looks considerably bigger (see images).
At 20Gb, the player boasts the mantle of being able to store around 10,000 songs and these are transferred to and from the device by its USB2.0 socket.
Tracks are accessed in the standard way via the menu system. Trying to offer something a little different from the norm, Creative offers something called DJ which selects The Album of the Day, Shuffle (which Creative has called Random Play All) Most Popular and Rarely Heard for those tracks that you never really listen to anymore.
Aside from the MP3 playback the Zen Sleek features an FM radio which allows you to record directly to the hard drive and 32 presets so you can have your fill of virtually all the radio stations broadcast.
The player boasts 18 hours of charge promising enough for a daily commute for about 2 weeks and we would agree with the battery claims.
Sound is also spot on. There are nine equaliser settings and all make a difference to the performance of the player. We personally preferred it without equaliser support, but with the ability to create your own custom settings there is something for everyone.
The Sleek isn't really that sleek in either design or offering. The monochrome screen, whether a battery saver or not, dates the player compared to offerings from other manufacturers, while the size is deceptively large.
Yes it does everything that you would expect from an MP3 player, but it doesn't have anything that shines out. And comes across as an poor mans update to Creative's previous player the Zen Touch.
Even against other players like those from iRiver and Sony, this just doesn't do it for us. Bland.