Creative Announces 60 GB Nomad Zen, Positions It Against 30 GB iPod Despite Lack Of Mac Support

Just two days after Apple introduced a new line of iPods, Creative Labs announced its own high-capacity MP3 player, called the NOMAD Jukebox Zen. The new Zen model features 60 GB of storage, a reported 14 hours of battery life, and a USB 2.0 connection. Though Creative was one of the pioneers in portable MP3 players, the company has been playing second fiddle to Appleis iPod line since the iPodis initial release. Today Creative is directly comparing the new 60 GB NOMAD unit to the iPod in announcing the new unit.

The company is touting the NOMAD Zen as having "twice the storage capacity of the Apple iPod 30GB model [while] priced at $100 less." The product was announced on Wednesday, April 30th, two days after Apple announced the 30 GB iPod. Apple also announced yesterday that it had sold some 130,000 new iPods in the first week of availability.

The trade off on the higher capacity, cheaper price, and added features is a larger and heavier unit. The 60 GB NOMAD Zen weighs in at 9.5 oz., and measures 112.6 x 75.9 x 24.5 mm. By comparison, the 30 GB iPod unit from Apple weighs 6.2 ounces, and measures a slimmer 103.5 x 61.8 x 18.7mm.

Creative is able to offer 60 GB of storage because the Nomad Zen uses a 2.5" drive. While the company would not tell TMO exactly what drive mechanism is used, Creative did confirm that the use of the 2.5" drive. That class of hard drives is the same size drives used in most laptops. They are less expensive than the 1.8" mechanism Apple is using in the iPod, are bigger, can be faster, and can also be noisier. Considering the size of the drive mechanism, the NOMAD Zenis dimensions and weight are actually quite impressive, even while leaving the iPod in the clear lead in terms of portability and convenience. The 1.8" mechanisms made by Toshiba are currently limited to 30 GB.

Creative also compares the 60 GB NOMAD Zen unitis battery life to the iPod in the companyis press release, saying: "the new NOMAD Jukebox Zen with 60GB boasts industry-leading audio quality at 98dB SNR, plus 14 hours of battery life, compared to the Apple iPodis eight hours."

Despite the extensive comparisons between the NOMAD Zen and Appleis iPod in Creativeis press release, the NOMAD Zen is missing one feature most Mac users deem important: Support for their Mac. Though previous NOMAD Zen units offered FireWire support, neither those earlier models nor the newly announced 60 GB unit (USB 2) will support Mac users. Appleis iPod supports Mac and Windows, though Apple will not have software for the Windows version of the new product line until June.

The NOMAD Zen does not support AAC files, but it does support Windows Media Player (WMA) and WAV files, in addition to MP3s. The new iPod supports AAC , MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, AIFF, and WAV.

The 60GB Nomad Jukebox Zen will be available at the end of May for US$399.99. Information will be available at Creative Labsi Nomad site, which offers only information on the 20 GB unit as of this writing. You can read the press release on the product at Creativeis main site.