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Date: October 11th, 2005
Article by: Zhenya Semikhodski
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)



Creative is the worldwide leader in digital entertainment products for the personal computer and the Internet. Creative was founded in Singapore in 1981 with the vision that multimedia would revolutionize the way people interact with their PCs.

Famous for its Sound Blaster sound cards and for launching the multimedia revolution, Creative is now driving digital entertainment on the PC platform with products like its highly acclaimed Zen and MuVo lines of digital audio players. The company's innovative hardware, proprietary technology, applications and services leverage the Internet, enabling consumers to experience high-quality digital entertainment - anytime, anywhere.



Last year Creative decided to dip their toes in the Portable Media Player (PMP) market (also known as MP4 Players and Portable Media Centers ) with their first release of the Creative Zen Portable Media Center . This ran a cut down version of the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center edition of Windows that was designed for PMPs. The interface resembled the Windows XP Media Center interface very closely and integrated with Microsoft's Operating System right down to having a Windows Logo'ed button on the PMP, or should I say PMC. Initially this player was well received but soon people realized that the 20GB hard disk, the support for WMV (Windows Media Video 7, 8 and 9) format was very limiting.

So this year Creative has decided to blow everybody else out of the water by releasing the much awaited Creative Zen Vision. Just by looking at the specification you can already see that Creative really wanted to improve on their previous take by listening to their Zen PMC customers. What does this mean? With only one firmware release for the PMC that only brings some stability, bug and speed fixes and no additional features the initial Zen PMC adopters have been left out in the cold meaning that if they want an improved player then they're going to have to fork out some bucks. For those of us, like myself, who are buying new into the MP4 player market this is good news.

Creative have decided to ditch Microsoft's Portable Media Center initiative along with their operating system for Creative's own in-house operating system, more codec support and a plethora of other features that I'm going to tell you all about in this review. I suggest you pause here, go put the kettle on and then kick back with a nice brew and enjoy as I take you for a wild ride of this year's most anticipated Creative Labs Audio/Video player release.



Creative decided to go for a nice colorful design of the box with their ubiquitous Zen name displayed prominently on the front below an actual size image of the Zen Vision.

Within the flimsy outer box is the hard cardboard box that gives all the protection. Opening this box reveals the Zen Vision Quick Start guide along with many other leaflets and the product software CD. I did notice that the Quick Start guide was big making it look like more like a manual, however, giving it a closer look actually reveals that the English guide is only 14 pages long while the other 186 pages are the same first 14 pages repeated in other languages that include French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Czchekoslovakian, Polish and Russian.

Perhaps the Quick Start guide would have been bigger if it were not for the fact that many instructions were added by the inclusion of 3 leaflets that were instructions for various other functions that weren't included in the original Quick Start guide. This leads me to think that it was easier for them to just chuck these pages in rather than reprint the Quick Start guides otherwise they wouldn't make the shipping date. Since I pre-ordered mine and thus got it when it came out things like this were not ironed out, however, I am sure as time wears on these extra pages will be included in an updated Quick Start guide. The manual itself can be found in PDF format on the CD. Also included is another leaflet congratulating me on the purchase, which they already do once in the manual anyway and on the invoice so in general Creative does give you an overall feeling of achievement, like you've won the gold medal for your country in the Olympics but in actual fact all you've done is part with a truck load of hard earned cash. All I have to say in reply to the congenial congratulations is, “Thanks guys, I couldn't have done it without you!”

Once you've sifted through all the dead weight that no one ever reads in your frantic search for the Holy Grail that is the Zen Vision device itself you are met with a nice surprise – the pouch.

Normally when you think of a pouch for your MP3 player you imagine this ill-fitting gimp mask that's just going to hide your glorified toy from view once you've pulled it on to forever adorn the player's form. Not this one, though. It is completely black with a nice velvety texture to it – classy yet not snobbish. Being nice and velvety it is simply a dust and lint magnet as can be seen in the photo and this is after several days use and some cleaning. After just several hours of use when putting it in my pocket, leaving it out and about it had already collected a lot of dust and to top it off it being black the white dust and lint particles are very visible and they aren't too easy to brush off. The best way is just to brush vigorously with a damp hand or cloth (lint free of course) or by spending several hours with your pouch and a roll of cello tape. Sounds exciting? I guess not since most of us have things to do, a life to live and stomachs to feed so in that department the pouch isn't that great and preferably a high quality leather (none of those el cheapo imitation leather) one would have been better but this one will have to do. Since the pouch doesn't have a window you're going to be forced to take the player out of the pouch which is great for some because you can casually whip it out at an iPod users conference and have them drooling! On the other hand people do like to protect their new toys so a case would have been better than this pouch. The pouch is also quite slippery against the player so if you're not careful the player can just slip out of the pouch onto the floor.

To finish up on the pouch I must say that this a nice pouch, however, it wasn't designed to be used if you're constantly changing tracks with your player since this isn't the traditional ‘PVC windows and button holes' style pouch that you can keep your player in all the time.

There it all is laid out. Let me point out that there are a lot more accessories that can be used with the player that are not bundled but are available for purchase separately.

Let's go through the contents of the box, starting with a brief summary then expanding on those parts that need an explanation.

  • Creative Zen Vision
  • Earphones
  • Power adapter
  • USB Cable
  • A/V Cable
  • Pouch (not pictured above)
  • Software CD (includes all required software and manual).
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Leaflets that supplement the manual.

I want to take a moment to go into detail with the power adapter. This is simply ingenious on Creative's part. This clever little trick will free up your travel adapters for use with other devices when you go traveling with your Zen Vision.






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