Saturday, October 3, 2009

Creative X-Fi2 Review. A Touchscreen Alternative.

Creative has now officially ventured into the Touchscreen Personal Media Player field. This first attempt is their X-Fi2 and comes across tentative. It's as if they are testing the touchscreen waters but not daring to get wet. While the other players role out 3.3" OLED screens with 480 x 272 resolution, this X-Fi 2 offers a smaller LCD screen. Audio Codec support is decent with MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and FLAC. It should play your iTunes music and iPod videos, so long as they aren't DRM versions.

Dimensions: 4" x 2.2" x 0.5". Weighs 2.6 ounces.

- 3.0" TFT LCD Touch Screen, 262k colors, 400 x 240 pixels resolution.
- Built-in Speaker on the front face. Surprisingly good sounding compared to speakers on other devices I've tested.
- MicroSD card slot on the top edge. Holds up to 16gb MicroSDHC cards. Media on an inserted card is treated as a seperate database rather than integrated with the media on-board in the same database. You can transfer media directly from the card to the player's memory using an option available on the X-Fi2's MicroSD menu.
- Video/Photo output with $20 accessory cable (not included).
- Headphone/Audio-Video output jack on the right end.
- Standard micro-USB jack on the right end.
- Reset hole on the bottom edge.
- Power/Lock button on the top edge.
- FM Radio
- Alarm, with once/daily/week day/week end settings, and the option to wake to a beep, music, a recorded message, or the FM radio.
- One custom 5-band equalizer setting, as well as 8 EQ presets to choose from.
My Source: Even though they claim availability after October 2nd, my device arrived almost two weeks before this post.

Included: Premium ear buds with replacement tips. Short 6" USB cable. Quick Start guide.

- Music: MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC, Audible4. You've got these two screens, one with info over the art and one with just album art, as well as a third screen where you can rate the songs up to 5 stars. The standard display below shows you almost everything you might want to know about the song currently playing, along with the time and battery status. Tap once to bring up shuttle controls and a progress bar. Position in a song can be adjusted by sliding the endpoint along this bar. Sorting music can't be done by folders. There is a great alphabetic search feature though, making it VERY easy to find the song or album you're after.
- X-Fi: Extreme Fidelity. You get two variables to enable and set. Crystalizer and Expand can both be set (using a sliding scale) from low to high and independantly turned ON or OFF. From "The adjustable X-Fi Crystalizer allows you to experience the very essence of music perfection as it intelligently restores detail lost during file compression with just one touch. Take in also the most acoustically natural sound staging in headphone audio available from a media player with the X-Fi Expand technology."
- Videos. WMV9, MPEG4-SP3, DivX3 4/5 and XviD3 Up to 640 x 480 video size. Videos can be stretched to fill the screen in most cases.
- Photos. JPEG, BMP (TIFF, GIF, PNG to be converted with bundled software). Zoom and Rotate included.
- FM Radio, with 32 preset stations
- RSS, Synced from your PC.
- Voice Recorder.
- Clock, Date display, with Alarm.
- Calendar, Appointments synced from your PC.
- Contacts, synced from your PC.
- Tasks, synced from your PC.UI: Orientation is landscape (horizontal) and can't be changed. You have two pages of icons to slide between. Screen response is not sensitive. You've got to plant your finger the wait a fraction of a second to get a reaction. There is no way to re-arrange the icons. The initial "home" page has the expected Music, Videos, Photos, and FM Radio icons. It adds Mic, RSS, X-Fi, and Date options to choose from. Slide to the right page and find System, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and microSD icons as well. There is room or three more.... perhaps Creative has something in the works for future updates. Quality: Although lightweight and far from ground-breaking in design, the X-Fi2 is well made and well finished. The back has a matte silver paint job that doesn't show fingerprints. The front is what appears to be plastic with only two perforations for speaker and home button. There is a chromed ring around the face for nice finishing detail. The whole device is comfortable in the hand and easy to grip.

Value: The X-Fi2 is available in 8gb, 16gb, and 32gb versions for $130, $180, and $230 respectively. For comparison the Cowon S9 sells for $170, $205, and $280 and the Samsung P3 sells for $150, $200, and $300. The X-Fi2 has no bluetooth. It's screen resolution is less than the other two. Yet it does add a microSD expansion slot and some useful utility apps for it's lower price. I'll rate the Creative X-Fi2 a good value.

Conclusion: Creative has done a thorough job here. The UI isn't as slick or smooth as you'll find on an Ipod Touch or the new Zune HD, but once you get used to it you'll find this player has most of the features you would expect from a high-end pocket media player. The apps are complete.



  1. That's a good review 4DThinker. I wonder - did you try to listen to this player using other headphones or only the supplied ones? I did (I have nice 80 Ohm beyerdynamics headphones) and sound became even better. As for the screen - mine is very responsive. What firmware version do you have? There were some updates. I am running the latest one from Creative website anyway and it works fine.

  2. Does it support gapless playback ? I couldn't find any information about it...and it's almost only reason I still use my 5g ipod...

  3. I've listened through several different headphones, and a good set will improve the sound you hear.

    No, the X-Fi2 doesn't appear to support gapless playback.


  4. this player DOESNT support WMA lossless, which made it useless to me