The long awaited Creative Zen Vision has
made its final leap towards becoming a reality and official details plus
pre-ordering options are available on Creative’s US website. Some may be wondering what
all the fuss is about; it is simply that the Zen Vision looks set to offer all
the things we’ve all been begging for from a PMP since their original
conception. Until now, most PMPs including Creative’s earlier PMP-120, have had
their share of drawbacks, including hefty price tags, poor picture quality, low memory
capacity and so on. Now we can have a look at the Vision’s specs and see how
they measure up.
First of all, this is a media player, so of
course it should have a reasonable selection of format support. Audio consists of MP3,
WMA and has support for DRM protected media files too; this to me that seems a
little limited but will probably suffice for conventional digital audio listeners.
Happily there is a wide variety of supported video codecs: WMV9, MPEG1/2/4-SP,
Motion-JPEG, DivX 4 and 5 and XviD, although other types of DivX and ASP XviD
formats are not supported, but that’s hardly a great shock. All this music and
video is stored on the device’s hefty 30GB capacity and connectivity is handled
by either USB 2.0 or the devices integrated CompactFlash reader.
An optional addition to the CF reader is a
5-in-1 memory card reader which imbues the Zen Vision with further functionality for digital photographers. It effectively makes the device
into a huge storage space and photo viewer. The screen is
well suited to image playback being 3.7″ in size capable of 640×480 resolution
and 262,144 colours. Creative has made special efforts to overcome the blinding
effect that bright sunlight often has on LCD screens by including a
Transflective display. And if you want to view the stuff on a bigger screen,
then there’s also a composite TV-out socket.
Battery-life is often, if not always, a
major concern in PMPs but again Creative seems to have come up with the goods
by promising 13 hours audio playback or 4.5 hours continuous video playback. Furthermore
the rechargeable Li-Ion battery is removable allowing you to keep extra batteries on hand. Other features include the now
mandatory FM receiver and voice recorder as well as a personal organiser which
can be synchronised with microsoft Outlook. Unfortunately there are only US
prices available at the moment and they equate to approximately £230 but it’s
anyone’s guess as to what the real UK retail price will be or when
Creative will start shipping it to these shores.