Review 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. One of the first companies to try and get you to swallow this mantra was Creative, and its latest attempt is its update to the Portable Media Center, the Zen Vision, writes Stuart Miles.
Small and sleeker than its predecessor, the Zen Vision is a very tidy package that's perfectly bag-able if a little on the heavy side - it weighs 239g. The 12.4 x 7.4 x 2cm unit is dominated by a large, 3.7in, 262,000-colour TFT screen with a 640 x 480 resolution. It's so dominating, that there's barely room for any additional controls.
Under the hood, the unit offers a 30GB hard drive to store movies, images and music files. The Vision supports AVI, MPEG-1/2/4-SP, WMV 9, Motion-JPEG, DivX 2, 4 and 5, and XviD 3 on the movie side while MP3, WMA, WMA with 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 still imagery is not the main focus here.
Media playback is very good, and the screen, which is only slightly larger than the one on Sony's PlayStation Portable, is large enough to watch programmes while on a train without feeling nauseous.
To access the content, Creative has opted for its own interface rather than teaming up with Microsoft for a second time. The UI is easy to navigate around once you've transferred content over to it. This is done using USB 2.0 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 states you'll be able to get a lacklustre 13 hours of music or 4.5 hours of movie playback, but the inclusion of a removable Lithium-Ion battery is certainly better than having to rely on AAA batteries or getting no pictures until you get home to recharge the player.
The Vision also comes with a CompactFlash card slot to make it easier to transfer images to and from digital cameras. Creative has presumably gone for CompactFlash so users can by a slot adaptor if their camera uses SD, MMC, Memory Stick of one of the many other memory card formats out there.
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, which has the added benefit of being able to play games on it.
We asked Creative to tell us why and its gave us the following statement: "It's an entirely different beast to Sony's PSP; the Sony product is designed primarily as a games product, a function at which it 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."
Maybe. We aren't denying that the Zen vision is good, but at almost twice the price of the Sony PSP, it's an expensive way of experiencing multimedia and gaining the benefit of a hard drive for content storage.
|Creative Zen Vision|
|Pros||Large screen; easy to use menu system; 30GB hard drive.|
|Cons||Only shows movies, music and images.|
|More info||The Creative Zen Vision site|