The Creative Zen Vision M which has served me ever so well since my army days back in 2004/2005 has finally died, after at least 4 trips to the Creative Care Centre in Jurong to revive it throughout the course of its life.
So here's my new baby I got from the IT fair - the Creative Zen X-Fi.
I got the 16gb set, with plenty of built-in tweaks which I would later figure are more for pushing the product in terms of features so as to get sales than actually playing on Creative's strength of staying true to its audio capability. There's a LAN feature which allows me to chat with people online on MSN and Yahoo! Messenger, but the button interface doesn't make that easy to do. Then there's the X-Fi (extreme fidelity) feature which supposedly transforms your music into a whole new listening experience, but only serves to alter and muffle up the sound pretty much not to my liking. I guess for audio freaks like me who really are very anal about audio bitrates and playing around with the equalizer to get the sound we want, such a feature would only serve as a white elephant.
But aside from the negatives, this player has pretty much all of Creative's vintage assets, such as very good (probably the best) audio and video quality, a radio function, and the fantastic hierarchical user interface that Apple has paid Creative US$100 million to continue using.
On top of that, the sleek design is quite a move away from its rather seemingly haphazard designs in the past, giving it actually quite a classy edge. The slightly heavier weight makes it feel a bit more expensive too.
For the principle that the competitive free market rests on, the hard reality is that unless one keeps up by marketing in an emotionally-appealing manner, one's product will have difficulty selling. Creative boasts some of the best technology in the MP3 market but most of my friends have the more snazzy looking iPods and Sony players. The faculty of the free market relies on rational decision-making between consumer and producer, and Creative has been keeping true to that by incessantly talking about its specifications but not how cool it is. And for that, they are constantly losing out to Apple who have been unabashedly advertising their hip factor.
In order for top firms to maintain their market share in certain markets such as the laptop and MP3 markets, firms have to continue finding ways to sell value past the basic accurate features of their products, very often preying on the emotions of consumers. While it is one thing to market well so as to communicate the value of your product, there really isn't anything stopping companies from being unscrupulously manipulative in trying to get our attention and interest.
Jonas Brothers - Tonight