The front of the device is dominated the display, which stretches almost to the edge of the faceplate. if you're wondering what the line across the middle of the player is, it's a groove that separates the top half of the faceplate from the bottom, which is all control - essentially it's a singe, moving plate that sits above the four key switches. Moving clockwise from the top-left, they are Favourite, Pause/Play, Contextual Menu, and Return, the latter taking you one step back up the familiar hierarchical menu structure. Menus are selected by tapping the central, vertical touchpad. I still prefer Apple's clickwheel - whatever sensitivity setting I applied to the Vision:M's touchpad, I couldn't quickly get to and select the option I wanted - you either overshoot or run just short of the menu option you want. By contrast, the clickwheel feels just right.
Pushing the buttons feels better, but the balance isn't quite right, and it feels slightly uncomfortable. You have to push harder than you expect, and you feel the player's going to tip over the top of your fingers and out of your hand. It's not a design flaw - you'll get used to it, I think - but it makes the player feel odd at first.
The touchpad now has a horizontal action, which works better. It's used to fast-forward or rewind through songs and videos, and makes for a more intuitive experience than past, vertical movement-only touchpads have offered.
The menus look gorgeous, and Creative has used colour sensibly, bringing the UI alive and distinguishing it from the look of the iPod's colour-scheme without going for gross out. The player supports multiple colour schemes, each tuned to the different body colours Creative will ship the device in: white, black, pink, green and blue.
Music sounds as good as it ever did on a Creative player, and album selection is enhanced with an album art view, allowing you to choose what you listen to visually. Playing a video displays a play progress bar, but this quickly fades away, popping back when you press a key. You can tweak the sound with a range of equaliser pre-sets, and there's a bass-boost option, too. A good range of codecs are included: WMA, MP3 and WAV on the audio side, MPEG1,2 and 4-SP, WMV9, Motion-JPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and XviD on the video side, but no H.264, apparently.