"Does it all"4.0 starson 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).