Pros Everything About it
Cons None (If you care for the screen)
Summary Although I have not sampled every product out there, I am more than reasonably confident that the Vision:M is the best audio/video player on the market. I have never owned an Ipod and I am glad that is still the case, because it was researching the IPod Video that led me to the Vision:M. The iPod video is one good looking piece of equipment, but Apple is cheating the consumer (and likely themselves in the long run) by trying to control the distribution of content for their players and not opening up them up to the marketplace. For my Vision:M I am using Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go (Napster, Rhapsody, and others I think have similar services) for $12/month with access to a 1,000,000+ song library where I can transfer an unlimited number of songs. There is no price per track (Apple iTunes is $.99 per song I think) and the license on the songs do not expire. If you want to burn CD's from the track with Yahoo!, you pay per track, but I don't have any need to burn because I am downloading them to put on my player. Also, you can get a Creative AV Cable for about $20 (or generic one on Ebay for a lot less) that will allow you play the Vision:M through your stereo or TV, bypassing the need for a CD or CD player. You can also play the Yahoo! tracks through your computer whenever you want. I think as more people know their options, Yahoo! Music and the other non-Ipod music and video stores will increase their subscribers and their libraries and content offerings will grow (even though right now I am COMPLETELY satisfied with what Yahoo! has to offer). The main reason that people will probably start to explore the Vision:M and others like it is because the iPod only plays their own format video files. The Vision:M, and others like it, play back all of the popular Video formats such as .wma, .mp4, and divx. This means that your content options are theoretically, if not practically, immense. True, if you buy the iPod video and use iTunes, you can now download TV shows, which is definitely cool. But it is probably only a matter of time before similar content is available from non-iPod download stores. Here are some of your videp options: I paid $20 for a yearly subscription to MSN Video Downloads for instance. It is awesome. I get 2-3 minutes news clips dowloaded automatically to my computer every day (about 20 a day) from sources such as Fox Sports, CNN, and MSNBC, which can then be transferred to my Vision:M with drag-and-drop. You can also rip any DVD to be played on the Vision:M. This is complicated and time consuming using the free software available on the internet if you do not have prior experience, but I found a GREAT pay-software alternative that is two programs called AnyDVD and CloneDVDMobile by Slysoft. They are very easy to use and amazing at bypassing the copyright restrictions that make ripping a DVD otherwise impossible. These restrictions are b*$$@#t if you are just trying to transfer a DVD that you already own to your portable device, or if you just want to back up your DVDs in general. During my 21 (or something) free trial I converted three seasons of TV show DVD's with the push of a button into divx files that the Vision:M plays back with no problem. My trial period has expired now and it just a matter of time before I pay $60 for the license that comes with amazing support (per reviews) and free updates for life for new patches that will help the program byass whatever the studios try to put on the discs. Apple does not have the ability to do this. All video content for the iPod has to be supplied by them. The only thing to be careful with the Vision:M is protecting the screen. I recommend doing everything in your power to leave the factory-installed clear screen adhesive on, and purchasing a case (I bought a silicone skin on Ebay for $12). If you are willing to think outside the box a little you will be doing yourself a big favor by purchasing the Vision:M.Updated
The Yahoo! Unlimited To Go song licenses do expire if you do not keep your subscription to the service. Periodically you have to "sync" your player with the Yahoo! service so as to update the licenses.
Pros Quality, graphics, user interface, video quality
Cons Touch pad, manufacturer case, no video input, equalizer. included software
Summary In my opinion, this is an awesome media player. I have friends who own the Video Ipod, and this definitely is worth the few extra dollars. The colors are vibrant, the video quality is excellent. I find that you really have to watch how your mp3s are encoded because the high quality mp3s sound phenomenal, but crappy mp3s sound even more horrible. The preset equalizers did not seem to make much a difference, but that could have been due to the recording quality of my mp3s. The included software is abysmal. Some avis work, some don't. The included pc software for transferring will detect that and prompt to start a conversion to .wmv. The conversion is drastically slow and will frustrate you to no end. The pc media manager is horrible. I had to go through over 2000 files to change the id4 tags because it picked up on those ones rather than the id3 tags I had already edited before I bought the player. It does show album art.....unfortunately, if all your files do not already have the album art attached to the id3/id4 tag it'll on it's own, assign one of your other album art pics as a defult with no way of changing it unles you find the album are for each of your mp3s. The firmware is great, however the touchpad is a little too touch even on the lowest setting. Be prepared to by a case for it, because the included case sucks, and is a glorified sock for the player. I purchased a set of outside noise reducing ear phones and found that the included ear phones were much better quality than those. The a/v cables are an additional cost, but you can find them for way cheaper than what creative sells it for on eBay and it works perfectly. The face scratches very easily, so make sure you buy either a case or a silicone skin for it asap, and an invisible lcd screen protector. It'll save you the heartache in the long run. All in all, it is an amazing player and you will NOT be disappointed. Everyone around me is in awe of this find piece of gadgetry. Although it is a bit thicker than the Ipod video, it feels more solid, and is less likely to slip out of your hands. I give it a 9 regardless of the cons because the good far outweighs the bad. An added bonus...you can sync it with your outlook calendar and contacts to give you that extra edge in being organized. A+++++
Pros Wma, DivX support, customizable screen background/colors (with your picture), Microphone. Better sound output. Better software. Better firmware. Faster, easier navigation. Record FM.
Cons The screen was scratched waaay too easily. Little accessory's. Weak frame (dont drop it). The FM is uselless for the most part.
Summary First off i want to give a 9.5 but i cant on cnet, so i rounded up.
Everything is better than the ipod when it comes to the Creative Zen Vision: M. The screen has more colors, and when combined with the DivX video format it destroys the ipod. The wide array of formats outshine the limited capabilities of the dated ipods. It also has better sound quality then the ipod.
The navigation, while touchy at first, becomes seconed nature withing days. I raced a friend of mind with an ipod to find "Phil Collins" i beat him by 8 seconds. By clicking left and then using the touchpad to go down letters you can find artists a lot fast then the flywheel on the ipod.
Customizable screens using any pictures on your player and colors keeps it ineteresting a lot longer than the boring ipod white.
A customizable button on the player lets you instantly navigate to what you want. I set it to play all the track instantly.
The DJ feature on the firmware lets you see things you havent seen before. It picks a random album of the day. It picks the 20 least played songs on your player and 20 most in diffrent playlists (you can see how many times you've played it and other information of the song by using the dropdown options). It also has a playlist of 20 songs that havent been rated. The player has a 5 star rating system which affects the random play. The higher the stars, the more likely it will play. Rating is simple. One touch at the now playing screen will take you to to the rating where you can set the song rating. Finally Panic at the Disco will get some much need 1 star justice.
The software I like better than itunes. It gives me more control on what goes on my player and how, then itunes. Its not for beginner users. A cool feature is that any video/audio that you wish to add to your player would automatically be converted to the apporpriate format if needed to.
The downsides are quite few. The screen scratches way to easily and needs a screen protecter, which is sold in a lot of places. The frame is weak and will sustain miminal droppings before becoming buggy (after dropping it sometimes hitting again will get it going, but im not responsible if you break it SO you take the chance). FM is pratically useless but its cool if you want to record the fm. But these are extremely minor and with care can be avoided.
Pros Drag and drop loading, Stunning Video Colors, "Coolness" Factor
Cons Limited accesories, limited instructions
Summary After 3 years, my iPod died and I went looking for a new one. I came across the Creative Zen M and really did my homework before buying this. I wanted to wait for a while before writing a review in order to get over the "its not an iPod" feeling.
After much thought, I would have to sum up the Zen M as "different and slightly better" than an iPod. I do miss the navigation wheel of the iPod, and have a hard time with the touchy tactile aspect of the navigation bar of the Zen M.
Here are the deal breakers in my opinion to help you decide if the Zen M is right for you.
1. Zen M has STUNNING video quality. If this is of high importance, then choose the Zen M.
2. It has Drag and Drop loading capability, although this is not totally seamless and does require some tweaking to work right.
3. A deal breaker for me, is the "Hide Folder" capability, which allows content to be hidden. If you have R rated or higher video content, this can be kept hidden.
4. Longer Battery life. Again a deal breaker for me.
5. Good sound, with customizable EQ button on the player.
6. The ability to directly delete songs or folders from the player
7. Coolness Factor. Not a deal breaker, but important.
8. Supports many more Video formats than iPod, including avi., xVid, and Divx. This was a deal breaker for me.
Now, on the flip side, if any of these points are deal breakers, I suggest you get the iPod:
1. Very limited instructions on use. If you have never owned an MP3 player before, some features and instructions will be frustrating. However, if you have owned some type of player before, lack of instructions might not be a big deal.
2. Does not support aac format. If the bulk of your music is Itunes downloaded, dont buy this.
3. No games (not a deal breaker for me)
4. Some difficulty with creating playlists. It can be done, but it is not as fluid as with Itunes.
5. Cannot play when connected to computer, and computer is only source to recharge unless a separate power plug is purchased (same as iPod)
I would say that the positive deal breaker aspects outweigh the negative and make this player a smart buy.
Pros love the video, audio, storage and speed
Cons screen broke after 2 weeks.....
Summary This device was a joy to use for a short period of time. Then, in one evening, it froze on me, requiring a reset and a 20 minute rebuild of the library. Then the screen broke. I have always been gentle with electronic items, never broke anything like this. Cell phones, cameras, laptops all have held up in various conditions. But the Zen Vision M has a big weak point and it's not covered under warranty. Watch out!