Creative Zen Vision

Portable video is to the current decade what portable audio was to the ‘90s. Many people already have it and it is becoming quite popular among children and teenagers to view the DVD/VCD of their personal choice. Today, if you don’t need a camcorder to record video then you shouldn’t need a laptop to view it. Already digital cameras, cell phones and PDAs offer video recording and allow video playback. But these devices are grossly limited in functionality: for example the LCD display is small and not optimized for video playback. Then most will only play their own proprietary formats, leaving you stuck if you want to transfer videos from your PC and play them on the device. Here’s where the portable video players steps in.

The Zen Vision W from Creative has a 4.3 inch high-resolution wide-screen player that allows for DVD (MPEG2) and DivX/Xvid playback in addition to the assortment of usual standards like MPEG and AVI as opposed to iPod video, which let’s you play Quick-time and MPEG4 video.

A lot bulkier than the iPod, the Zen Vision W just about fits into shirt pocket. But one may not feel comfortable with its 276g weight, it is better to keep it in the velvet pouch that comes along with it and then storing it in ones hand bag.

Sporting a back and silver finish, the Vision is meant to be held with both hands when viewed, with the right handed thumb doing most of the work. Viewer’s fingers will wrap around over the top and control the power slider device lock, and volume buttons on either side. The buttons though are a tad too small for comfort and many a time one will end up pressing another one by mistake.

There’s a mini-USB slot located at the base and a Compact Flash memory expansion slot on the left. The headphones, TV-out and AC-input are on the right. The TV-out functionality via standard composite video, allows the user to watch photos and play media directly on the TV screen and therefore no longer a DVD/divx player is needed.

To start the device one needs to push the power slider to the side in 5-10 seconds the player’s ready for use. After this, the user is free to navigate and play movies and music and view photos loaded onto the player. To be more precise, one can play AVI files, MPEG 1, 2, and 4 along with DivX/Xvid in the video department; MP3, WMA, and Wave Audio, and JPEG format photos. That’s pretty much most of the media on PC. Only Apple’s Quick-time isn’t supported.

Loading media onto the Zen is a piece of cake. First, connect it to your computer or lap top using the USB cable provided and wait for a minute for the drivers to be automatically installed (if using Windows XP or Vista). Then, one can directly copy and paste audio, video and photos into appropriate folders by navigating to the Zen Vision hard drive located under ‘My Computer’ in PCs and on the desktop in Macs.

The player is available in two sizes: 30GB (Rs. 25,000) and 60GB (Rs. 30,000) – the latter will be able to hold between 5,000-10,000 MP3 songs, 60-90 DivX movies, and over 50,000 photos taken by a megapixel digicam. The battery life is officially rated at 13 hours’ worth of audio playback and 4.5 hours worth of video. Not bad, but the user has to keep the AC adapter nearby if he is traveling – it can thankfully perform a full charge on an empty battery within a couple of hours.

The screen, which is nicely large and bright, is perfect for photos and movies. Owing to its high resolution 480×272 screen, photos are sharp and clear. The wide-screen aspect ratio also makes watching movies a treat; easily bettering the iPod and even the Sony PSP in their game.

Audio quality on headphones provides clear with good reproduction of high, mid and low frequencies.