We might not like the idea, but manufacturers around the world are intent on telling us that we must and will watch movies on the go. The latest company to try and get you to swallow this mantra is Creative with its update to the Creative Portable Media Center - the Creative Zen Vision.
Small and sleeker than its predecessor, the Zen Vision is a very tidy package that’s perfectly bag-able if not a little on the heavy side (it weighs 239 grams). The 124.2x74.4x20.1mm unit is dominated by a large 3.7 inch 262K colour TFT screen (640x480 pixels). It’s so dominating, that there is barely room for any additional controls on the unit.
Under the hood and the unit offers a 30Gb hard drive to store a plethora of movies, images and music files on and the Vision supports AVI, MPEG-1/2/4-SP, Windows Media Video (WMV) 9, Motion-JPEG, DivX2 4 and 5 and XviD3 on the movie side while MP3, WMA, WMA with Digital Rights Management (DRM) 9 or later and Linear PCM WAV on the audio side. Strangely when it comes to pictures it's jpeg and jpeg only, but then that’s not the main focus here.
Playback of media is very good and the screen (which is only slightly larger than Sony’s PSP) is large enough to watch programmes while on a train without immediately feeling sick.
To access the content, Creative has opted for its own interface rather than teaming up with Microsoft for a second time running and it is easy to navigate around once you’ve transferred content over to it.
Transfer is done via USB2.0 and according to Creative you can get around 120 hours of movies or 15,000 songs on the device at any one time. Battery life is no way near this, Creative state you will be able to get a lacklustre 13 hours of music or 4.5 hours of movies, but the inclusion of a removable Lithium-Ion battery is certainly better than having to rely on AAA batteries.
Failing the hard drive the Vision also comes with a Compact Flash Card Type I & II slot to make it easier to transfer images to and from your digital camera. We see that Creative has gone for the Compact Flash so users can then opt for an adapter of their choice to fit SD, MMC, Memory Stick and more, but it will mean that you will have to bear this extra cost in mind if this is something you are planning on doing.
The Zen Vision is a nice piece of kit, however, aside from the hard drive, we can't see why you would want to buy one over a PSP that has the added benefit of being able to play games on it.
We asked Creative to sell it to us and they gave us the following statement:
“The Zen Vision concentrates on providing the best multimedia player experience. It does not play games, collect emails or surf the Internet; instead, it provides class-leading video, music and photo entertainment on a richly detailed 3.7 inch colour screen. It supports a wide selection of video formats and it offers 30GB worth of storage space, enough to hold up to 120 hours of video content (i.e., approx 60 full length movies).
It is an entirely different beast to Sony's PSP; the Sony product is designed primarily as a games product, a function at which is excels. The Zen Vision is designed as a dedicated multimedia player, concentrating on video playback. In this role, we believe the Zen Vision meets every demand thrown at it providing an outstanding user experience”.
We aren't denying that the Zen vision is good but at almost twice the price of the Sony PlayStation Portable it is an expensive way of doing it just for the benefit of a hard drive.