Creative Zen Vision:M

A great compact multipurpose wonder for the open road.

In the past years when someone mentions the words MP3 Player the usually the first thing people associate this with is the IPOD. Rightfully so as Apple did a good job out of the gate in design, functionality and most of all ease of use. Where they fell short was support for other music and video formats as well as locking the user in to purchase from I-Tunes only. I have to say it was a novel idea when your the one receiving all the money and have complete control. If you thinks about it they really can charge what they want within reason. In the last few years the underdogs have made great strides. Some of which have managed to trump the IPOD in not only feature, design, functionality, ease of use but some have surpassed Apple on quality.

Enter the Zen Vision:M. Comparable in size and functionality. Close in looks. But what's this? The IPOD video has a 61,000 color screen compared to the Zen Vision:M with 262,000 colors. This is not a small difference. I have watched them side by side and the difference is night and day. Battery life is always a key topic when evaluating these devices. One of the reviews I read that compared the two stated they used the movie King Kong to compare the two. The IPOD's batter gave out before the end of the movie.  The 2005 release of King Kong is only 3.13 hours long. Given these data points coupled with the fact it only supports the Apple video format I find it is a mediocre video player to say the least. The Zen Vision:M on the other hand supports AVI, DIV/X, XVID, MPEG1/2/4 and WMV. I personally own the 30 GB version and have over 100 full albums and 20 full length movies loaded.  These little babies are amazing! I have watched a couple movies consecutively during long flights with no eye strain what so ever. The 2.5" screen is bright and vibrant and very easy to view. Weather your a photographer or just want to carry family photo's this player does it all. Organize photo's by folders and watch your favorite photo's as a slide show while you listen to your favorite play list or album.

As a music player, I believe this player to be one of the best sounding portables I have come across. This is an area I have some experience in as I tend to consider myself a Audiophile. I have 2 tube amps (X-Canv3 and a Little Dot2) as well as a Headroom portable amp. I use all three with the creative and a set of Sennhieser HD-650 Cans (Headphones).   The sound is amazing. In fact, run the Zen Vision:M through one of the tube amps as a pre-amp and into my NAD C-372 Amplifier powering 2 Klipsch Forte's and 2 Klipsch Quartets. The end result is pure bliss. For a lossy player the sound is truly amazing. I went as far as purchasing Sennhieser MX-100 portable headphones and harvested the drivers to place in my helmet. The result is the most amazing sound you will find in any helmet speaker setup. The Zen Vision:M has a several preset Equalizer settings. The usual, jazz, Rock, Hip Hop, Classical etc. It also has a custom setting that allows you to control all five bands. I have played with some of the equalizers out there that come with portable players and have not been impressed until now. The sound quality is great.

The battery life on this unit is great. I have watched 2 full length movies and listened to an hour or two of music and still had 40% battery life left. I have started my player on a huge play list at 9 AM and it was still playing at 7 PM when I returned home from my ride. I never powered the unit off during the day trip. I ripped all my music as 320 Kbps MP3's and sync them with Windows Media Player 10 and 11. This device also can be used as a removable hard drive. It doesn't stop there! Creative did a wonderful job by adding a FM radio tuner. It uses your headphone wire as an antenna and the reception is crystal clear. When listening to radio the battery life gets even better. There is also a voice recorder for taking notes. The mic has exceptional pick up and the sound quality of the recording is great. Here is another bonus, I'm not joined at the hip with Apples I-Tunes. I have purchased music on and others for between 79 and 99 cents a track.  I can go on and on but my last statement will be as follows... The ZenVision:M is an IPOD Killer!

How can this device help you out on the road? Here are a few examples.
  • If your staying in a campground or hotel without TV the built in screen is large enough to comfortably enjoy watching up to several hours of movies. I have watched 2 movies in serial without eye strain. Although the screen is small in size it's extremely vibrant and easy to view.
  • Listen to music as you ride the open roads. Create play lists that play the entire day. You will never be without music as will happen with satellite radio when you lose line of site of the satellites.
  • Enjoy watching your ride photo's as slide shows while simultaneously listening to your favorite music tracks.
  • Take ride notes when needed via the built in voice recorder. I have used this feature and it's quite nice.

Technical Specs - Also See the Official Creative Web Site.

HxWxD: 4.1" x 2.4" x 0.7" (30GB)
4.1" x 2.4" x 0.87" (60GB)

Weight: 5.7 oz (30GB)
6.9 oz (60GB)

Display: 2.5" High Resolution Color Screen (320 x 240 pixels)

Storage Capacity: 30GB (7,500 songs)
60GB (15,000 songs)

Battery Life: Up to 17 hours of continuous audio playback
Up to 5 hours of continuous video playback

Battery Charge Time: USB 6.5 hours
Power Adapter 2.5 hours

Audio Playback Format: MP3, WMA, WAV and Audible

Photo Format: JPEG (GIF, TIFF, PNG and BMP)3

Video Playback Format: MPEG1/2/4-SP, WMV9, Motion-JPEG, compatible DivX® 4 and 5, XviD and AVI

Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Up to 97db

Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz

A/V Output: 3.5 mm mini-jack composite TV-out (NTSC and PAL) with stereo audio

Organizer: Syncs with and views Microsoft Outlook® Contacts, Calendar & Tasks


Album Art

USB Host Feature5

FM radio

Voice recorder

Contacts, calendar and tasks

Repeat, resume, and random play

Sleep and wake timers

Customizable main menu

Functions as an external hard drive

8 EQ settings (Acoustic, classical, custom, disco, jazz, new age, pop, rock and vocal)

11GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes. Available capacity will be less. Reported capacity will vary. 30GB holds 7,500 songs, song claim based on 4 minute song encoded at 128 kbps. MP3 encoding. 60GB holds 15,000 songs, song claim based on 4 minute song encoded at 128kbps MP3 encoding. Video claim based on video encoded at 500 kbps MPEG4-SP.
2Actual battery life will vary with use. Higher bit rate movies will lessen playtime.
3Files transcoded with bundle software
4DivX and XviD encoded files are playable if they are encoded as standard MPEG-4 Simple (SP) or advanced Simple Profile (ASP) without GMC support. This product is not certified by DivX Inc. May not play all DivX 4 and 5 files.
5Only available on ZEN Vision:M 60GB. USB Host feature tested with SanDisk MobileMate™ SD™ Plus 5-in-1 Reader, SanDisk ImageMate® SD 12-in-1 Reader/Writer, Dazzle ComplactFlash Reader (DM-8000), Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 8-in-1 Media Reader(F5U248), Poertable Multi-Card Reader(TS-RD13) and Canon Powershot A430, Fuji FinePix E900 Zoom and Nikon Coolpix P3. For other types of media, refer to manufacturer's website for compatibility. Check your Camera or Card Reader's Package Contents for Standard USB Cable availability (not supplied Mini-B Cable) for connectivity with ZEN Vision: M USB Host Adapter.


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