Creative reveals its new Zen X-Fi media player

Sure, the all-conquering iPod range might have awarded Apple Inc. undisputed market dominance in the music and media player industry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a host of competitors diligently offering up hardware alternatives to those consumers fighting Apple’s will. Bearing that in mind, meet the new Creative Zen X-Fi.

Uncovered by dedicated Creative fan site ‘epiZENter’ ahead of an official announcement by Creative, the Zen X-Fi -- as the name implies -- is set to arrive equipped with Creative’s proprietary X-Fi audio technology (including Crystallizer and Expand listener settings) to provide only the very best top quality file playback enjoyment.

For those looking for mode explanation, the Crystallizer setting functions by working to restore playback elements that can be lost during the audio compression process; while the Expand feature recreates the effect of a live performance by shuffling the audio’s virtual positioning to the front rather than through a conventional stereo set up.

While the Zen X-Fi sadly doesn’t follow current multimedia player trends by offering up a touch-sensitive interface, it does deliver a 2.5-inch screen (much like the original Creative Zen player), along with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, an FM Tuner and voice recorder, a built-in speaker, and up to 36 hours of music-based battery operation (5 hours for video).

The kind folks at Singapore-based Creative Technology have also seen fit to bolster the player’s Wi-Fi access for instant messaging and wireless streaming with the addition of “premium quality earphones,” which are believed to be the hardware manufacturer’s very latest ep-830 buds.

The Zen X-Fi will also come complete with a numeric pad, which enables users to apply “TChatter” in order to talk with friends and family via the likes of Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk (GTalk), or MSN Messenger.

Music file support for the Zen X-Fi is provided by MP3, WMA, AAC (unprotected), WAV and Audible, while video support arrives in the form of WMA, MPEG4-SP, DivX 4/5, Xvid and MJPEG.

Although presently unconfirmed by Creative, sources cited by the epiZENter Web site suggest the new Zen X-Fi will come ready to handle music and video needs in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB storage capacity variants.

Retail release and pricing is not yet known, although it is thought that Creative Technology will officially whip the covers off the Zen X-Fi player in the next few days.

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