Creative Labs Inc.’s Nomad Jukebox

PC World (US)

It looks like a portable CD player, sounds almost as good as one, and has many of the same settings, but Creative Labs Inc.’s Nomad Jukebox does not play CDs at all. Rather, it’s an industrial-strength MP3 player, with a built-in 6GB hard drive that can store more than 100 hours of music.

The shipping version I tested truly stored more music than I could reasonably listen to in a month. Powered by four AA rechargeable batteries (two sets of four are included), the device played for 4 hours straight before pooping out. With its vast storage capacity, the $499 Jukebox could readily function as a home stereo component, when powered by the supplied AC adapter. (The adapter performs double duty as the battery recharger.)

Transferring MP3 files to the Jukebox proved effortless and amazingly swift. Using the bundled Creative PlayCenter 2 software, I was able not only to rip CD tracks in seconds but to send them to the Jukebox via the supplied USB cable at a rate of one song per 10 seconds or less. Using the intuitive on-board Music Library button, I could browse various albums or individual song tracks and move them to an active playlist with a single touch. I could also alter the music’s sound by adjusting the Jukebox’s EAX controls, which let me make Bruce Springsteen seem as if he were singing “Thunder Road” first in a living room and then in an auditorium.

But the device’s strength–its sheer number of customizable features–could overwhelm users, at least at first.

The Nomad Jukebox carries some 20 hours of preloaded music and audio book recordings. It’s certainly more expensive than most MP3 players, but it also offers additional content and user control.

Bit for bit and megabyte for megabyte, the Jukebox offers better bang for the buck than MP3 players that are armed with the standard allotment of 64MB of memory. I’d say this Nomad is going places.

–Michael S. Lasky

Nomad Jukebox

PRO: Holds 100-plus hours of MP3 audio that can be loaded easily and quickly from a PC or other type of external device.

CON: Customizable options can be overwhelming at first.

VALUE: This player is well worth the price for its robust features and large storage capacity.

List price: $499

Creative Labs can be reached at 800/998-5227 or at

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Prices listed are in US currency.