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In its own right, the Creative Zen Vision:M is a very capable digital audio player, video player, photo viewer, FM radio, and more. Indeed, one could go on and on about how it has the right specifications to make it a constant companion for entertainment on the go. The really big news about this device, though, is that it's the first device to boast complete compatibility with Amazon Unbox, the new digital video and music download service from Amazon.com.
The Zen Vision:M has the features, ease-of-use, and power to become your constant media companion. See the Vison:M interactive demo.
Design Let's get things out in the open. The Apple iPod is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to the digital media player business and, unavoidably, every other device is measured against it. In most respects, the Vision:M matches up pretty well, and there are few things you may even like better. Length and width dimensions are exactly the same at 4.1 and 2.4 inches respectively. When it comes to girth, though, the iPod has the Vision:M beat; the Vision:M is .7 inches thick, while the iPod measures .4 inches. The Vision:M is slightly heavier, too. These details aside, the Vision:M feels comfortable, yet sturdy, in the hand, with curved surfaces in all the right places.
Creative takes a somewhat different approach with the Vision:M's controls, answering the iPod's Click Wheel with a vertical touch pad--which allows you to scroll up and down menus and control volume--plus four buttons that offer navigation through the user interface. The contextual menu button on the bottom right is a welcome addition, allowing you to make quick settings changes and view information about media files on the fly--functions that are more cumbersome on an iPod. Creative could have made the buttons a bit more sensitive--they require a firm press that gives an overall feeling of clunkiness to an otherwise well-designed user interface. Another annoyance is the touch pad's over-sensitivity; it's easy to make selections unintentionally, sending you on a wild ride through the user interface.
The Vision:M's screen, which measures 2.5 inches diagonally, offers sharp details, vibrant color, and excellent response with little or no video ghosting during high-action sequences. The 320 x 240 resolution is to be expected from a device this size, and although it's small, you'll likely have no trouble enjoying video while you're sitting on the subway or a flight, or in the back-seat of a car. Our only nitpick was the screen's less than stellar viewing angle, especially when compared side-by-side with a video iPod. While this can be good for maintaining privacy, the narrow viewing angle also means that friends beside you will struggle to see anything other than a black screen.
Music, Videos, Photos, and More The Vision:M's music organization scheme is standard fare; you can browse playlists, artists, tracks, albums, and genres. Equalizer settings are robust, with a nice range of automatic settings, plus a custom equalizer that's easy to control. The music library's "DJ" function is a nice touch, allowing you to listen to your most popular tracks. It can also pull up the tunes you listen to least frequently--in case you've got some forgotten tunes lying around on the Vision:M's 60 GB hard drive. Sound quality is everything you'd expect from a top shelf digital audio player, and DRM'd Windows Media files played without a hitch. The device fully supports a whole range of "PlaysForSure" download and subscription services, such as Napster and Yahoo Music. Creative also ships a CD-ripping and music transfer application called MediaSource with the Vision:M.
Playback of Windows Media DRM'd video files (WMV9) was also hassle-free. Purchased videos delivered crisp colors and detail, with no frame drops. Video playback consumes a lot of power, bringing Creative's claim of four hours of video playback into serious doubt. Expect under three hours when watching videos continuously. Thankfully, if you need to come back to your video later the Vision:M's software remembers the timecode of where you left off--unless you power the device down between viewing sessions. In addition to protected and unprotected WMV files, the Vision:M can play MPEG 1/2/4, Motion-JPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and XviD formats, making it a very flexible device with respect to encoding options.
The Vision:M can also store thousands of photos, letting you browse through them or set up a slideshow. The device's TV-out option comes in handy here, as you can present slideshows on a TV or projector. Videos can be displayed this way, too. An FM radio with easy preset tuning functions and great signal reception, plus a voice recorder feature, round out the extra media features. There's also a handy application on the Vision:M that formats a portion of the drive for use as USB 2.0 mass storage, letting you set aside up to 16 GB for data storage.
Connectivity and Synchronization A Creative Sync Adapter ships in the box with the Vision:M, making it a snap to connect the device to a USB 2.0-capable PC. With the connection made, Windows XP recognized the device right off the bat and Windows Media Player immediately asked us if we wanted to load the PC's music onto the Vision:M. Music management and synchronization has come a long way on the PC, and the experience of organizing and transferring music to and from the Vision:M was, barring a few curious click-through boxes, pretty seamless. The Vision:M also supports synchronization of your Outlook contacts, calendar, and tasks, in case you want to use it as a personal organizer of sorts.
Amazon Unbox Integration To be truly successful, the Vision:M has to be more than a great media device, it has to integrate with Amazon Unbox and make the process feel like second nature. Although the Vision:M was tested using a beta version of Amazon Unbox, things are looking good already. Amazon Unbox and the Vision:M go together like peas in a pod, making the process of purchasing, downloading, and enjoying content on the go a real cinch. The Amazon Unbox Video Player, which queues, downloads, organizes, and plays your purchased movies and TV shows, recognized the Vision:M right off the bat. An icon for the Vision:M appears in the devices panel of the application, and you can immediately begin transferring downloaded content to the device. Once you're all loaded up, the Vision:M offers a great way to bring Amazon Unbox entertainment along for the ride.
Crisp, vibrant color screen is great for video
Generous video format compatibility
Excellent sound quality and music management functions
Narrow screen viewing angle may be a problem for some
Finicky controls for some functions
Slightly more bulky than other competitors
What's in the Box Creative ZEN Vision:M, earphones, Sync Adapter, USB 2.0 cable, pouch, user's guide, and installation CD that includes Creative MediaSource and Creative Media Explorer software. Note: As of July 2006 Creative no longer ships the Zen M with the AC power adapter.
The Zen Vision: M 60GB Multimedia Center makes it easy to carry all your digital files around - and navigate them more simply. You'll be able to enjoy thousands of photo and audio files plus or even video files viewed on a 2.5 inch LCD screen. Its 320x240 resolution and 262,144 color display will makes photos look almost as good as the real thing, even in bright sunlight. The TV-out jack lets you store complete movies or TV shows and connect them to a TV for easy sharing with your friends. The Zen Vision will even turn your slideshows into attention-grabbing multimedia; share your collections of baby photos by adding a backdrop of your favorite music to the slideshow, directly from the player. The bigger, backlit Vertical Scroll navigation tool is smoother and helps to improve selection accuracy. It's the one-stop device for all your digital entertainment needs. The built-in Personal Organizer lets you transfer your calendar, contacts and task list from Microsoft Outlook Repeat, resume, and random play Audio Playback Format - MP3 WMA and WAV / Photo Format - JPEG (GIF, TIFF, PNG and BMP) / Video Playback Format - MPEG1/2/4-SP, WMV9, Motion-JPEG, compatible DivX 4,5 and XviD Programmable sleep and wake timers Customizable main menu Also functions as an external hard drive for data and file transfer 8 EQ settings (Acoustic, classical, disco, jazz, new age, pop, rock and vocal) Rechargeable Li-ion battery plays up to 14 hours of continuous audio playback and up to 4 hours of continuous video playback Dimensions - Width 4.1 x Height 2.4 x Depth 0.87 / Weight - 6.9 ounces PC requirements - Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1 or 2
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I received my ZVM 60GB about two weeks ago. I have not had a chance to work it out that much, but to date I am very impressed. The screen is fantastic to watch video on. Very clear and sharp. The sound is Creative fabulous as well, as one should expect. The USB Host feature works well with my camera, slow, but usable transfers for how I use it. For those of you interested in this feature, I can copy about 400 JPG images of about 4.5MB per file in about 1 hour - this is not fast by any stretch but a useful storage option at the end of a day of shooting. Photos really look sharp on the player and you can select any image you have on the player as the wallpaper. You can also sync your outlook data (contacts & calendar). Navigation is a breeze. The unit is certainly larger than other players, but by no means a brick IMHO. I don't find it overly large, it fits comfortably in a shirt pocket and in my hand (I have normal size hands). I like the feel of a larger sturdier player. You have to realize that there are many things built into this player! Creative makes good sturdy players in my experience. Not much comes in this package. No wall charger and no usable case (it comes with a silly pouch). I will use my player more when a case becomes available, I find it rather slippery and it slipped out of my hands twice the first day I had it!!!. There are no cases currently that are designed specifically for the slightly thicker 60GB version that I am aware of. I have inquired about the silicone cases and reputable sellers tell me they do not work well on the 60GB ZVM. My gripe: The black version, which I have is a smudge/scratch magnet. While the black version looks cool, I wonder if the white is less prone to showing wear. Amazing to make something with such a finish!
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For Christmas I received an 80 GB iPod. After about a month of fighting with it to do what I did very simply with a Dell Digital Jukebox I finally gave up and returned it. I have an extremely large music collection so I began to search again for the biggest player out there.
The Creative Labs Zen Vision: M fit the bill perfectly for what I was looking for: large hard drive and easy to use features. I would have preferred an 80 GB if not larger but I'm fine with 20 GB's less to be rid of the iPod.
Features of the Creative Zen are really what sets this apart from the competition. The color screen does a great job of showing not only the track name and artist but also the cover of the album itself. If you can see the button in the upper left hand corner below the screen, this button is for randomly choosing the album of the day. This is a nice feature for those that want to listen to something different but really don't know what. The touch pad is MUCH easier to use than the iPod circular touch pad. The iPod touch control was very difficult to control - especially when trying to select an artist a ways down the alphabet. With the Creative Zen all you have to do is hit the button on the right side of the touch pad to move the cursor to the alphabet and then just use your thumb to move down the alphabet. Another great feature is the "add to selected" feature. While it may be available on the iPod, I could never find it - despite reading the manual. This makes adding various songs, albums or even artists to the now playing extremely easy. As a nice side feature once you're finished your only about 3 clicks away from saving it as a playlist if you choose.
There are quite a few other great features but I think the point has been made. I highly recommend giving it a try. [...]
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I absolutley love this unit. It has evrything: great sound, great video play (supports more video types than ipod), picture storage, tv out, etc. People are going overboard on the thickness issue. It's not that thick and it's not that heavy. Loading it up with music, video, etc. is easy.
The only issue is not with the player itself, but with Creative's media program. One plus is that it plays the player through the PC. But is has a folder system and does not sort the music on the player my artist, album, or genre. But there is thrid party programs that will like real player.
All and all it's the best DAP I have owned and this is my 4th.
I've held off on buying a new MP3 player for over a year, anticipating the release of a great high capacity MP3. Although IPOD just released their 80gig IPOD, I'm still definitely pleased with my purchase and the wait. The color's are more vivid, it's not that big (2-3mm thicker than the 30gig version) the software is VERY easy to use, sound is excellent, has a lot of features and was reasonably priced. Worked just fine using Win Media Player (Creative did provide both Media Player 11 and their own organizing tool, but you can use anything to sync this up). It takes almost every type of format you have without having to convert everything (and if you do, WMP does it for you). You can search by album, genre, artist, etc., not sure what the other guy was doing wrong. I haven't figured out if there's a way to shuffle all the songs you have on a particular artist yet. It did take about 2 hours for the initial sync, but that's because I have 45gig of music, vids, and pics. I've done all the large capacity reviews, read em all, tested the MP3's at the stores, etc, etc, and I have to say that the quality of the Creative is definitely the best overall MP3 on the market today. Only downsides I've found are the lack of all the accessories and that Creative needs to keep up with the market (hint, release a 80gig or better now!) and advertise more. If they step that up, this can definitley be THE IPOD killer. I'm still waiting on the sport case to come in I ordered, hopefully it will fit (the company said it would), more to follow on that. But, I've read that the sport cases actually scratch the player and would advise everybody to put the protective plastic on it before putting it in the case. Hopefully this helps you make a wise decision!