Hands on with the Zen Micro Photo

Forget, for a few Nano-seconds, the iPod. Now consider why you'd want to pocket Creative's new Zen Micro Photo instead. What you lose in iTunes ease a

Forget, for a few Nano-seconds, the iPod.

Now consider why you'd want to pocket Creative's new Zen Micro Photo instead. What you lose in iTunes ease and design charm, you make up for with a choice of music shops, price competition and access to subscription services. Pay £15 a month for to Virgin Digital or Napster To Go and you can download as many songs as you can listen to.

From what we've seen so far, the player itself is a worthy of a demo. It's the same size as the old Zen Micro, but feels more solidly built, packs in a heady 8GB of storage and - as you'll have noticed - now has a colour screen.

Oddly, the screen is the feature that disappointed us. Despite being a next gen OLED display and perfectly acceptable for showing off holiday snaps, it's not on a par with the latest phone screens and pales next to the new iPod's dazzler.

Still, we love everything that makes the existing Micro a corker - an FM radio, easy interface, respectable 15 hours of juice and removable battery. There's also a new themes option for tweakers so you can swiftly change the appearance of the menus.

The only other caveat is the price. At £200, the new Zen's dangerously close in pennies to the £220 30GB iPod - and that plays video, too.

We'll have a full review and rating for you in the mag soon. You can also see the Micro Photo in person on 4-6th November at the Best of Stuff show.