Standing in both corners, weighing in at 20GB each…

The fight is on! The front page of the Straits Times, Singapore’s main broadsheet newspaper, features the latest challenger to the iPodCreative’s Zen Touch.
It also has a 20GB capacity, and looks suspiciously like the iPod (white, oblong body with blue screen), though Creative say they were doing digital players two years before the iPod came out (that’s nice to know but in the tech world, it doesn’t matter if you were there first if you don’t improve. A good example: Netscape).
Anyway, if you want to make a chronological comparison, I am sure the iPod design came out first 😉
While I generally respect Sim Wong Hoo’s innovative ideas and business acumen, and am proud of homegrown companies making it big in the international field, it will be up to the market to decide if it really is better, or more saleable, than the iPod. Not what anyone – he or Steve Jobs – claims.
First of all, contrary to what Sim says, I do not think it looks better than the iPod, as it has a more cluttered interface.
I also think it is unfair to claim it can hold twice as many songs than the iPod. Someone should actually test the quality of this special Creative format first. I’m quite happy with my CD-quality Apple Lossless Format, even if that means my iPod holds less songs. I’m also happy with the quality of my AAC files. Of course if you have mostly WMA files then the iPod is not an option.
Admittedly, the iPod’s improved battery power cannot beat the Zen Touch’s claim of 24 hours. However the iPod also looks much slimmer than the Zen Touch. It’s like choosing between a slim laptop that looks good, and a bulkier one that can last longer.
What the article fails to touch on (probably due to time and space constraints), are the extra features that both devices have. At least I know I can check my Calendar, Contacts and play games on my iPod while listening to music at the same time.
Also, it is very difficult to gauge usability, which I feel is very important and often ignored in tabulations of rival products’ features.
If you want to start getting your hands dirty with comparisons, then lay out your cards for both players and see if they match up. I’m curious to see if Apple can hold on to its 50% market share.
ps. If anyone’s tried out the software for the Zen Touch, please let me know how intuitive it is. I found the Creative Muvo interface confusing and cluttered – especially when compared to Apple’s iTunes. Also, are Creative’s products usable on Macs, not just PCs?


  1. Cheah Chu Yeow

    Argh this is making it so hard for me to plonk my money down. I’ve been told that iPod’s sound quality is no where near as good as iRiver’s and even then the Zen Touch would beat that. Do you have any complaints about iPod with regards to sound quality (acoustics, bass, etc.)?
    But you are right it does look a little too bulky for my tastes. I guess nothing better than hands-on experience to see how it feels.

  2. vantan

    I read that the iPod has the best sound quality, but you wouldn’t know for sure unless you actually put the same MP3 file in each player, using the same set of headphones at the same volume…
    Some other positive and negative aspects of the iPod:
    (-) One thing I really don’t like about my iPod is the inconsistent battery indicator. After fully charging and detaching it from its dock, the battery level is somewhere in the midrange, then works its way up. Apple should really focus on further increasing its battery life and making the indicator less erratic!
    Of course there is also the battery replacement problem, which got turned into a cult film, but now you can order a new battery and install it yourself at a fraction of Apple’s price (got this info from third party sources on the Internet).
    (-) As a former Windows user, there were also incompatibility problems which I do not experience now that I am on a Mac.
    (+) Of course it still has the biggest cool factor. The iPod is ranked no. 1 on Stuff! (Singapore) and some other Brit mags I can’t recall – T3?
    (+)I also like installing hacks on it – I can read the Bible, cocktail recipes, any article saved off the web. Dropping vCards into the Contacts folder will allow me to view contact details. I even changed my battery meter to a numeric value (1-500). And there are also third party manufacturers like Belkin which can turn the iPod into an FM transmitter, voice recorder, digital photo storage… The possibilities are endless. Of course, the iRiver iHP-120 can record stuff by default.

  3. Cheah Chu Yeow

    Thanks for the very nice round-up. I think I’ll go for an iPod. Not to mention that my bosses’ girlfriend also told me to get one instead of the Zen Touch, mysteriously. Say hi if you can see this bosses’ girlfriend 🙂
    That hacks thing really got me interested. And I’m hoping their battery problems are solved in the 4G iPod.
    Sucks that it isn’t in stores yet, only online. I gotta get me a credit card soon.

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