Creative Zen MP3 vs Ubuntu

The Zen, showing the sexy red default theme

The Zen, showing the sexy red default theme

I recently got my mitts on one of Creative’s excellent Zen MP3 players. The short story:

  • 16GB of storage. Up to 24GB if you want to bung an SD card into it.
  • Clear and bright 2.5″ screen, easily good enough for watching video.
  • It’s tiny. Smaller than a credit card and <1cm thick.
  • FM radio, photo galleries, calendar, EQ.

Like most electronic gizmos it comes with a CD chock full of Windows software. But who wants to boot into Windows just to use their MP3? Let’s look at some Linux alternatives (all of which are in the Ubuntu repos)

Music & Video transfer

The Zen uses the MTP protocol to transfer stuff. That’s a proprietary Microsoft thing, but luckily Banshee can jive with MTP.  The other music players like Rythmbox will do the same. If you’ve got Banshee to pull down the album art that’ll get transferred as well.

Video Encoding

As I mentioned, this player has an excellent little screen, but if you want to play video on it, you’ll have to re-encode it to the right format and size. Cue Arista Transcoder.  It has presets for the Zen that make getting your encoding settings as simple as one button.  Plus it’s fast!

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This page last updated 19 July 2010