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The Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra is one of the newest additions to the Creative family of MP3 players. Following the wave of digital music, this MP3 player was designed to combat the growing iPod craze.

While nothing quite compares to an iPod, or so pop culture dictates, this MP3 player is a lower cost alternative to those who are not as financially well-to-do. The Zen Xtra is a HDD MP3 player, which allows it to carry significantly more tunes than a traditional flash MP3 player. Coming in 40GB and 60GB models, it holds approximately 12,000 and 16,000 (128kbps) songs, respectively.

Measuring in at about 3 x 4.4 x .86 inches, weighing about 8 ounces, it's quite small. While one could argue significantly bulkier than the iPod, it is still pocket sized, and outside of the protective case, not much bigger than a deck of poker cards, therefore it is quite managable. Transfer rates are decent, using the USB 2.0 support. While quoted at 'a song a second' I found it closer to an album in 30 seconds or so- not slow by any means, but a lot slower than the quoted rate. I also found that the battery strangely enough did last its reported 12-14 hours per charge; privy I didn't use the built-in EAX features.

The scroll wheel works well with the large black and white LCD with a blue backlight, allowing easy access to the contents of the player. Intuitive firmware layout, and button layout is comfortable to use while in your pocket. The only bad portion of the layout is that the player has to be removed from the travel case in order to charge the battery.

The software, however, which is bundled with it, is a waste of effort. Using it on my machine was impossible, for some unbeknownst reason, while it functioned well on other machines. The software is bulky and clunky to use, in addition to its tempermentality. I recommend replacing the Creative Mediasource software with Notmad Manager by Red Chair Software. A far superior software, it integrates the abilities of the Zen with Microsoft Windows.

Running at approximately 300 US Dollars, I believe that it is a decent replacement for the iPod for the middle class populace. It's not pop culture, but the increased size of the Nomad Zen (in storage space) along with its lower price, I find it a wonderful substitute. I've had mine for several months now, and have not had a single problem with mine.

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