Pros Superior sound, picture, battery life. Power supply included. No restrictions copying to/from different computers or downloading non-iTunes content. Open source feel. Freedom + control.
Cons Album art transfers faulty. No direct USB cable connection for power and file transfers. Need to carry around adaptor for that.
Summary I would give this a 9.9 but this system does not allow it. The negatives are so minor in comparison to all the positives of this product.
This is an exciting, versatile and customizable gadget that sets a new standard for mp3 players.
I'm new to the mp3 player scene and last month finally got my first player to join the crowd: a video 30 GB iPod. Well, the crowd is not always on top of things because after some research to see if I made the right choice prior to my 30 day return, I bought the Zen Vision: M. One of these had to go back.
The iPod went back.
For one thing the sound and video quality of the Zen is vastly superior. Don't believe me? Just try it. Listen to your favorite song on an Ipod and then the Zen. Boost the volume. The Zen will produce a rich, deep bass with a surround sound feel to it. The iPod will buzz with distortion.
As to the video, not only is it superior in quality but it plays a wide variety of formats (mpeg1, wmv, avi, mpeg2, etc.) without a problem.
And best of all, you are not restricted to one computer for transferring files or to one vendor (iTunes) for buying songs. The Zen has an open source feel to it and you can easily use it as a jump drive, freely copying files from different computers. The music files you download to a Zen are not hidden but easily accessible, unlike the iPod. And if I'm going to pay all that money for a 30+ GB hard drive I want it to do more than just play mp3 files.
I really like the radio and sometimes listen to it on long train rides to work. Very easy to record radio shows or songs. Just hold down the play button and voila, you have a wav file you can easily transfer to your computer and edit if you want. Ditto recordings of meetings at work, which I've done. The voice recorder comes in handy.
I found myself easily bored with the iPod because it was so limited. A little too sleek and sterile for my taste.
"Does it all"on by mysticalpha
Pros big bright screen, good software, customisation, better video support
Cons Required dongle to charge/sync, screen scratches
Summary I bought this player to replace my iaudio x5. If I didn't have a lot of videos, I wouldn't of gotten it at all. Personally the big advantages of the creative zen vision m over the x5 is the id3 tag system, a big screen and the better video support (and yes I do realize the x5 has ogg and flac audio support and all the enhancement goodness).
Creative has got the music portion down like they have done in previous Creative players. The vision m will manage/sort your music by ID3 tags into sections such as artists, albums, genre, etc. It still has features such as random play all, custom and preset EQ, bass boost, on-the-go playlists, voice/fm recording, etc. I found some features to be convenient/useful. The vision m can customize menus and hide the menu items you don't want to see. On certain screens such as the album list and artist list, you can quickly scroll to any letter via the vertical alphabet menu on the right side of the screen. When saving playlists, you can use the onscreen qwerty keyboard to type in playlist names. The player offers you several color themes to choose from and also lets you display a wallpaper of your choice (at certain levels of brightness and color modes applied to the wallpaper as well). Also you can delete files and albums.
The downside to this system is that it sorts your music by ID3 tags. Not only does this affect the vision m, it affects all players that manages music by ID3 tags. It is important that your music is tagged correctly so it will be sorted into the correct albums and genres you want. If you have a lot of single songs it might be a good idea to change their album tags to "various" or "singles". The player does do USB mass storage but not for music. You can use the space to store files and documents but won't be seen by the player itself.
To help you manage and tag your music, this player comes with good decent software. It is not necessary to install any software at all since the vision m supports MTP or music transfer protocol (which is recognized by windows as a music device) that will enable you to use certain programs to sync/transfer music such as windows media player. I highly recommend installing the software anyway. It is nonintrusive and gets the job done. It integrates itself into explorer which allows you to access all the main functions you can do with the software. It also allows you to drag and drop files all in an explorer environment. Some other software that I didn't see when I had my zen micro is a video convertor for converting any video that can't play on the vision m and a tagger program to tag your music and also convert asian characters to the proper format.
Getting back to the player, the photo and video functions dips its feet into PMP territory. Photos are arranged in the folders of your choice and can be viewed in thumbnail format. Loading the thumbnails is decent and not as slow as the x5. You can zoom in and scroll using the controls, rate the picture, view EXIF details, set as wallpaper and start slideshows... while you're listening to music! Something the x5 couldn't do. As for video it is better compared to the x5 but not 100% better. I have to admit I am surprised by what it can do in the video department. One of my main reasons for buying the vision m is for its ability to play divx and xvid videos without any conversion from PC to player. Usually I have to convert videos so it wouldn't skip on my x5. Out of all the videos I have tried 90% of my videos have successfully transferred and played on the vision m without conversion (one of them was AC3, one was badly encoded). If you plan to create your own videos, you should avoid AC3 audio encoding since it doesn't support it... yet. The video quality is good. Videos resized by the player might show signs of slight antialias and over satuation as said by some people but I haven't really noticed any. The player will also remember where you last left off on the last video you viewed.
On to the player itself, there are more flaws than good. The vision m is a bit thick but it doesn't bother me and it's better than holding paper like some other players. The vision m screen scratches easily and I have been treating it fairly well. Not shown in the cnet video or pictures, the screen stays on but dimmed while playing and lights back up when you touch the controls (probably to see what you're listening to without touching the controls to turn the screen back on). You can turn it completely off by switching the player to hold. The controls is a love/hate thing with most people and I admire tactile controls over touchpads. There are two things I don't like about the controls. The left and right border controls of the touchpad is something different but if I have my player in my pocket I don't want to accidentally trigger the touchpad while hitting previous and next. I have to either take it out or consciously feel my way carefully. The second dislike is controls being on the lower part of the player. I have to slide the player higher in the palm of my hand and stretch my thumb to the lower buttons and at the same time holding it in such a way so it doesn't tilt/slip out of my hand. Placing all the buttons on the lower front prevents holding the entire player in my hand. Another love/hate thing with the vision m is that the battery is not replaceable. Finally, one of the things that bothered me the most is the required dongle to charge/sync the player. This wasn't true when I had my zen micro. I don't mind proprietary connection but having to deal with an extra physical accessory is bothersome especially when some of their previous players didn't have the dongle. The vision m didn't come with a dock and I didn't expect them to provide one. I find it strange that they didn't stock up on them. None of the online stores I checked have them and for the past two weeks, it has been out of stock on the Creative site.
Overall I think this is a very good player and can satisfy most people in what they want in a player whether it be music, video and/or photos (if you can get past the required dongle and get yourself a case/screen protector).
Pros Great screen, sound and interface. Works with Yahoo to Go.
Cons No Audible support, scratches easily.
Summary I have three iPods and have had many mp3 players, dating from the original Nomad from Creative, and I must say that this is the best player I have ever owned. There is almost nothing to fault in it.
So for you iPod owners or shoppers, let's cut to the chase: what makes the iPod better?
-iPod's wheel is easier to use than the touch strip. It's true. It's not that the Vision:M's solution to navigation is hard, it's just not quite as good as Apple's. Specifically, to move 30 minutes forward on an podcast on an iPod is much easier than on the Vision:M/
-the iPod is thinner. But the battery is much less for video (about the same for audio).
-the iPod is cooler, I suppose, to the masses, though I can't imaging anyone seeing the Vision:M and not being impressed. Sooner or later there will be a backlash against the iPods from the trend setters ... there always is, and when that happens the Vision:M will be right there for them to latch onto.
-iTunes' is great software and integrates perfectly with the iPod. This is probably why no one can unseat Apple. Napster, Rhapsody or Yahoo are getting closer, but no one has matched Apple yet for simplicity. I use my iPod for podcasts because it works. I plug it in and all goes well. Creative is half way there, but doesn't have it yet with ZenCast Center. Too many missing podcasts and a much weaker interface.
Now, though many reviews have covered it, what makes the Vision:M better.
-the screen. No comparison. Anyone who sees the iPod next to the Vision:M will immediatly see the difference. The screen is breathtaking.
-FM radio. Apple charges $50 more for FM. Amazing.
-voice recording. I couldn't care less, but it's there.
-DRM10 Janus support. This is why I don't use my iPod as my main player. I have ripped my CDs, but I want to listen to new music. There is no way I am paying 99 cents a track at iTunes to see if I like the music when I can get it for "free," or so it feels, for $6.99 a month from Yahoo, or even $14.99 a month from Napster. I am amazed that the public hasn't latched onto the subscription model. Once this happens, and it WILL happen one day, no matter what Steve Jobs says, when Apple starts renting movies and then moves the rental model to music. Of course, once they do it, the advantage is again lost. So there is a window of opportunity for everyone but Apple to promote the subscription model before Apple introduces it and the press goes wild. If I were Creative, I would take out nice large ads showing the cost comparison between filling up an iPod with 100 new songs and subscribing to them via DRM10. This is where Apple wins every time: they are brilliant in marketing, and everyone else seems incompetant.
-as of a couple of days ago, Creative finally lowered the cost to match the iPod. Smart move. The cost differential vanishes and it's apples to apples, so to speak, in the comparision.
In summary, this is a great player. Better than any iPod you can buy, better than any other player on the market. Don't hesitate to get it.
Pros PLAYS EVERYTHING
Cons No 60 gig model
Summary Like I said, I got a video Ipod for Christmas. I started thinking about how much it was going to cost me to buy all of the napster music I have on my PC so I could use it on my Ipod. After my massive heart attack (LOL) I decided to look for an alternative. THIS THING ROCKS. Coupled with Napster and Tivo to Go, it is a portable entertainment dynamo. By the way, Tivo to go does not work with Ipod, and the upcoming Tivo Ipod service will cost extra. The navigation touch pad is ten times better than the circular Ipod nav pad. I don't know how anyone could even think about getting an Ipod with the knowledge that this player is on the market.
Pros Looks great, easy to use and load video
Cons scroll bar is sensitive
Summary When I originally went to Best Buy to purchase the Creative Zen Vision, I was seduced and beckoned by yet another popular video mp3 player called the Ipod 60 GB. For $100 more and 30 more gigs, what's not to love? So I bought the Ipod, and the Zen that would have been mine, dimmed it bright pixel laden screen at my departure.
Upon getting home with my fabulous new Ipod, I did not realize the error of my fickle "no brand loyalist" attitude by purchasing what so many people call the "American Icon" of portable media players. For within two hours of trying to set up the Ipod and not understanding why I couldn't put any of my WMV, Mpeg movies, or any other videos on Itunes, let alone the player, did I understand my dilema. Apple doesn't want the videos that are on your hardrive or dvds to be burned to their little gem, they want you to subscribe and purchase all of that vaunted "Apple Ipod Accessories that everyone in the universe MUST HAVE or your mp3 player sucks" software and movies. I couldn't convert a single video file without some error happening (no sound, took over 15 minutes for a 40 meg file to convert, etc.), or I simply lost my patience. One shouldn't have to take vacation time from work just to update their player! Needless to say, I cleared the Itunes library, repacked the player, and in the morning headed back to Best Buy.
The Zen that was to be mine flashed at my return and upon arriving home and setting up the software, plug and play heaven awaited. (Heavenly inspiration sounds)
The aforementioned is to illustrate just how wonderful the Creative Zen Vision is!
Within 5 minutes of hooking up the player after installing software, I was watching mpeg videos that Itunes snubbed. Brilliant color, great sound through the earbuds, not tingy or echoey. Within 2 hours, I had all of my videos, had selected which music files to put on my player (Itunes just scans your harddrive and dumps it all in; maybe I'm not in the mood for Coldplay on my player right now, let me decide!). Putting music on the player was similar to my Iriver Music manager program, but even easier (learn something Itunes). All of my movie files went on within minutes. So far the player has accomodated all but two AVI files of no major importance, but could be converted without the headache I experienced with Itunes. I cannot stress how easy it is to put video files on the player in comparison to Ipod. I am ready for my long plane flight tomorrow!
The only negative, if there is one is the scroll bar is very sensitive, but is quickly learned.
Radio tuner works well, what Ipod doesn't have one? Oh yeah. Another reason I like this player.
Overall, if you have alot of video and movie files on your computer already, this the player to get. Otherwise, enjoy purchasing Quicktime Pro, and alot of Apple Itunes movies.