MP3/Video Players

Zen Vision:M

This thing is beautiful, and it’s available in green, white, pink, blue, or black.  They’re all pretty.

This zen has many wonderful features, including  30 GB (or 60 GB, but they’re only available in black or white) and this gets you: the ability to store up to 120 hours of video (with the 30GB), thousands of pictures, up to 15,000 songs, it has a built in radio tuner, you can use the tv out to view your videos and photos, it boasts a beautiful 2.5″ screen, a vertical touch pad and a rechargeable lithium ion battery.  It’s also great for keeping you organized with a personal organizer, a voice recorder, and it has an extensive line of accessories that will help you do whatever you want with your Zen.

The only downsides of the Vision:M – there is some lag in the video play back, but it doesn’t affect the a/v sync.  The concentration of colour in the screen can sometimes cause detail loss, but is far brighter and better than the iPod (in general).  The black one is prone to scratching (like the original iPod nanos).  There is far less content available for the video portion of the Zen, but Creative is trying to fix that through ZenCasts, and other stuff like that.  Technically, you can take any video you want and change it to a DivX format and watch it on your Zen, but there is that conversion factor (however, you won’t have to convert your music, so that’s a definite plus).

So to break it down, we’ve got the following:


  • It’s pretty, available in multiple colours, with many display themes to match or contrast (plus available customizing with personal pictures, which includes photo editing software to get the best wallpaper)
  • Large capacity for videos, songs, pictures
  • Long video battery life (four hours continuous, iPod is only two hours continuous)
  • Great screen resolution and brightness, adjustable brightness to help preserve battery life and different environments
  • Touchpad has increased sensitivity to help with controls (still tricky for new users, but gets much easier with practice)
  • The audio clarity is quite good – you can listen to the music quite loud without running into the problem of “noise”
  • Built in FM Radio tuner with 5 presets
  • Reasonably simple to operate (scrolling menus)
  • Charge by either USB or A/C (A/C not included)
  • Create your own videos by transferring to DivX or XviD (in addition to other formats)
  • Listen to your music at the same time that you’re viewing pictures – not exclusive features
  • Easily copies Outlook contacts


  • Integrated battery, non replaceable
  • Colour screen can be too intense, causing some detail loss
  • Less downloadable video content available
  • No line-in recording available
  • Background noise in voice recording shows up as a hum or whine (it is livable, though)
  • Can only sync up with Windows XP
  • Must purchase AV out separately

So there you go.  That’s what I think of that.  And do you think that Santa will bring me one for Christmas?


6 thoughts on “MP3/Video Players

  1. It is interesting how, for better or worse, the iPod has dictated how the higher end mp3 players look and set up their user interface.

  2. James – that’s very true, and I don’t see it changing in the near future. For a long time, iPod has been the final word in personal media players, but it seems that many companies, while immitating their original designs, are actually surpassing them in features.

  3. A friend of mine has had serious issues with Zen players in the past, so I’m hesitant to buy one. Plus, I’m running OSX so it’s not doable anyway. :p I’ve got a 20GB clickwheel iPod that’s served me well and my experience with AppleCare for any of their products has been nothing short of spectacular.

  4. That’s a good testament. I’ve often heard the opposite, as well. I think that when you spend money on electronics, it’s a little like Prussian Roulette. We will always know someone who’s had a bad experience with any particular brand. I know people who curse Creative and who swear by it. I also know people who curse iPod and others who swear by them. *shrugs* I guess it’s important to look at the warranty info and all that jazz, in addition to all the fancy features and pretty colours.

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