* Prices may differ from that shown
I have been using this MP3 player regularly for the last 6 years and have had very few problems with it. The sound quality is excellent, although I have been using Sony headphones with it. I originally thought I might use the picture and video playback features more, but the player consistently froze whenever opening files.I mainly bought it after seeing itunes in action and having doubts over Apples's proprietary file format and the automatic syncing of ipods. With this player it is possible to obtain music from any PC without rewriting it's whole library.It is fairly chunky, but has a nice weight to it and can take afew knocks. Overall very reliable music player, one downside is that you can't make playlists on the move, having to make them whilst ite device is linked to the computer.
The Creative Zen Vision M is certainly a contender for best mp3 player of the past 5 years, while it is looking dated now compared to more current offerings, the stunning sound quality and user friendly design have not diminished its potency.
Many people were quick to jump on the Apple bandwagon and valued style over quality and ease of use, indeed filling this player with music is a doddle. Simple plug it in to a computer and drag and drop files in (if only iPods were this easy!) or use the software provided.
Once music is loaded onto the player, plug a set of aftermarket headphones into the jack, as the ones provided to compete with Apple for the worst ergonomics imaginable. To be fair, anyone who buys a music player of this audio fidelity and uses the OEM 'phones is wasting the strongest suit of this product!
Navigationg around the player is simple and provides the user with fast access to all their favourite tracks, which I might add will never have sounded better.
The build quality of this player is somewhar brick like, this may not be for everyone, but I like the fact it doesn't feel flimsy and from experience I can vouch for it taking knocks in its stride. Earlier Creative players used to have issues with the jack socket coming loose, this however seems to be but a distant memory.
In summary; yes it is getting on in years, but there is still life in the old dog yet!
When this device was released I considered it to be the Ipod killer and working in an electrical store selling these and Ipods afforded me the knowledge to back that statement up. Despite having had 2 faulty Creative Micro MP3 players before this I decided with much thought this was the right MP3 for me.
There are several advantages this device has over its competitors, not least of which is the ease of use and expanse of formats it allows. The device does not tie you in to any specific software, allowing you to manipulate the files on it freely. Similarly it also supports a wide array of both audio and video formats (not including lossless formats like Flac).
By today's standards the screen is quite small, however, at the time of release the screen was larger than its competitors and also brighter, sharper and crisper using the latest technologies. In fact, I personally used it most of the time for video during lunch breaks or commuting.
The user interface is intuitive and easy to follow, it's familiar to anyone who has used MP3 players before allowing you the usual controls of genre, artist, album etc. Video does have a niggly issue of not playing through a list, once a video has ended it stops rather than automatically moving on.
Storing both video and audio will be easy for most people as the hard disk has an inordinate amount of space making it a challenge for anyone to fill.
It came with a case, a charger, a USB cable & headphones which is an unusually full box even today. The case is durable made from a chamois leather material and is the case I still use today for my current MP3 player. The headphones are typical throw in headphones and I usually replace them with a better pair. The device is sizeable and quite heavy if you were looking for something to work out with or be highly mobile with I don't recommend this for you.
The only thing which let me down about this product was the battery. Not because it has a short live, in fact, it doesn't the battery life is comparable with other large devices. It was because after years of owning it and using it at least 5 days a week the battery stopped charging. As the battery is enclosed it's not an easy replacement as such at that time I decided to upgrade.
I have had this MP3 player for a very long time now. I don't think I can remember the exact date that it was purchased, but I imagine it was over 3 years ago. It has aged brilliantly.
Although I recently passed this phone onto my husband, as I purchased an iPod, we have ran in to only a few simple problems. These problems have only been recently (The past month) and are to do with the software and not the actual MP3 player itself.
The player is tough and withstands the odd bump from time to time. It is quite bulky compared to other MP3 players available now but that's not a huge problem as it still fits snuggly in most pockets.
The headphone jack is placed at the top of the player and is compatible with most headphones available. Next to the jack is the on/off switch which combines with a hold switch - a very useful tool.
I found the screen to be a good size, it isn't crowded at all and very easy to navigate around with the keys below. It does have the handy option of 'add to play now' as an option, something I really appreciate when wanting to move away from a set playlist for one song.
The MP3 player is easy to set up and comes with it's own Creative software. We had some problems putting songs onto the MP3 player recently as the software was freezing. Unfortunately we were unable to get any help from Creative as their response was that they no longer offer support for this particular MP3 player over 3 years of age. This is a real shame and if we should run into any real problems in the future, a new MP3 player will have to be an option.
Luckily the problem was easily resolved within about an hour of internet searching and we've had no more problems since.
There doesn't seem to be any lagging, the player reacts quickly to your directions. I do find the volume scroller, placed in the centre of the player, to sometimes be over/under sensitive - but honestly, that's my only problem with this player.
Battery life is brilliant, rarely needs recharging after use and can go for days without requiring a charge. Energy can be saved by turning down the volume and dimming the screen if absolutely necessary.
A timeless classic and certainly a great alternative to the classic iPod.
Bought this because i didnt want to be your typical ipod user and this seemed to have more to offer, nice colour, strong looking, plays movies, great amount of storage.
Needless to say it is currently sat in a cupboad somewhere, not a bad player overall, when it worked however i had many problems with it freezing and having to resart it or the battery would just drain even when it had beed charged.
i think without these problems it would have actually been a good mp3 player, and with the benifit of radio and movie would be worth the money.
cosmetically, it looks lovely and comes in a range of colours! however could do with being more scratch resistant. having said that it does come with a nice little slip case for you to put it in so this isnt really a huge problem if you use that.
Great buy if you get one that doesnt cut out on you.
The Zen Vison Player from Creative is a chic and fashionable package that boost radio, photos, music and video.
The display screen measures 2.5 inch which is placed directly above the vertical touch pad. When using the supplied headphones the sound is slightly boosted with a balanced level of bass. Upon using additional headphone, more accurate highs were noticeable.
Its file transfer is quick fast on average taking 1.65 seconds to transfer 10 megabyte of audio files.
The player also has a wide range of features including the option to record live radio, clock, stopwatch, sleep timer and even a voice recorder. To top it off, there is even a contacts lists that can be synchronised with Microsoft Outlook. The photo viewing feature supports jpegs, and also allows you to watch videos.
It also allows you to make slide shows and watch movies on your television via a video output. It is also highly compatible with a range of audio file formats such as WAV, MP3, WMA and gapless formats.
However, it does not support a wide range of video formats.
The battery stamina is quite ordinary, on average providing about 18 hours of continuous audio playback, or about 5 hours of video playback from a two hour charge, which can either be powered via USB or the mains.
When looking for an mp3 player the typical choice would be for an iPod, widely used, widely advertised. However, having previously owned an an iPod mini 6GB and having problems with the battery on it after only a year and knowing how much it costs to fix...I decided to look elsewhere!
I liked the look of the creative zen vision:m and even the bulkiness of this product is good for me, harder to lose! Also, the abilty to play video, listen to the radio and the 60GB means I can have practically all my songs on one devise (plus all my photos-a benefit meaning its can be used as a backup storage device for me).
The quality of sound on this product is excellent, maybe even rivalling that of the iPod. The video playback is good enough for me certainly though obviously the screen is alot smaller than some of the other device on the market. I also think the battery life on this product is really good, much better than my previous experience with the iPod. It's also easy to use and I like that I can just use Windows Media Player to put my music onto the device.
Now for the bad points...No mains charger, you have to charge the player through your computer which can be a bit annoying sometimes. Also, my player freezes occasionally (only about 4 times since I've had it which is about 9 months), it generally got something small enough to reset it though and my music has always remained on the player. I think thats it...overall a very good player.
I bought this Creative Zen Vision:M player because I like many others refused to conform to the Apple trend going. Was it a good choice? Well - yes and no.
Let's go through the good points. The navigation through the menus and songs is very easy and whilst not as good as the tracking wheel on the iPod it's definitely good enough. The sound from the headphones they come with is pretty good too and in my opinion better than the iPod ones. I also like how you can create a partition in the player so you can use it as a Mass Storage Device if you want which is really useful sometimes! Being a semi-pro musician tho one of the top points for me is the in-built microphone. It's a tiny little thing on the side of the Vision:M but it packs a real punch! Sound is almost crystal clear even with multiple instruments or voices. The transfer speed of files is amazing and you don't even need the software supplied if you don't want to.
Now the not so good points. The most frustrating thing with this product is that it sometimes randomly freezes up and refuses to work. This means you have to carry around a needle just in case you have to reset it. Whilst all your songs and playlists remain intact, it's a pain but thankfully hsan't happened for a long time for me. Also a shame they don't supply you with a mains charger as it takes a while to charge by USB.
Overall I'd give this a 8/10. The good points beat the bad and I'm really happy with mine and would never trade it in for an iPod. Buy it!
As most are, when considering the purchase of an mp3 player I started by looking at the iPod. And why not? I thought. Good looking, does everything I could want it to do etc. But I decided to dig deeper. I read stories of those whose iPods broke after the warranty ran out. Calling Apple they discovered a simple repair job would cost more than a new iPod. Not wishing to buy a product from such a company I decided to look elsewhere. And anyway I couldn't begin to imagine how little customer support I would receive for an item which everyone has!
It was a tough choice but I settled on the Zen Vision:M and boy am I glad!
Good Looking, Great Capacity, Visuals Amazing and Audio Austounding!
The only thing which I found negative is the software, the video converter freezing up everytime I try to convert a file.
Let me clear up a few things:
People say the Zen is far too thick, thicker than the iPod.
Well the new 60gb model is as slim as the 30gb model. And besides I would much prefer a thicker player to one which I feel would snap without much force used.
No scroll wheel.
But it has a scroll bar which is far better! When considering the Zen the only thing I thought the iPod had against it was the click wheel. Wrong! It doesn't even have that against the Zen.
If you buy the Zen I recommend putting a few films on there the quality is unsurpassable. iPods colours look washed out compared to the Zens.
I only have a few qualms afte a few months when low on battery the lock button began playing up and it took some time to unlock which was slightly frustrating but its been 2 years I've had the Zen and its still going strong!
So when looking for an mp3 player look no further than the zen. Leave the iPod for the chavs and fashion loonies.
Buy the zen.
I bought myself a Creative Zen Vision M to listen to my music collection. I chose this player due to the large storage capacity and video capabilities as well as the built-in FM radio tuner. Mine is the 60GB version, but the 30GB version is also available in a slightly smaller body. The player has a black front and a white back and doesn't look quite elegant. It has four buttons, each with an icon that glows a nice blue colour when pressed. Something unusual is that it has a vertical touch pad for navigation. I bought mine for £160 at the time when it first came out (60GB version) but the 30GB version seems to be selling for just over £100 on eBay.
USING AND NAVIGATION
Loading songs requires the software to be installed on a PC first. This is very annoying as I prefer to just plug the player into any random PC just to drag my music and videos into a 'Removable Drive'. The player can be used to store documents but it needs to be set up on the player itself first. This involves allocating half the players capacity for 'Mass Storage'. This means that 30GB is for storage only, which is fine so long as your music collection doesn't fill the first half of the 60GB.
I've always found the navigation on the Vision M to be very unpleasant compared to that of other MP3 players. It has the buttons but the main navigation tool is the vertical touch pad. It doubles as a Left and Right button but to scroll through a long list of music feels very tedious because you have to let go once you've moved your thumb to the bottom of the pad to move to the top to repeat the scrolling procedure, whereas with an iPod (Classic / Nano), you can keep going round and round the Click Wheel. With it feeling tedious aside, it's also very easy to miss the items you want because it doesn't give me as much control as a 'navigation wheel' or a button would. With this in mind, I don't like the navigation facility found on this player. Navigating via the buttons is fine but choosing songs becomes a pain, especially if you have a big music collection.
The way the player sorts the songs is pretty annoying too. It does give me many different filters in which the music is sorted, such as by artist, by rating, alphabetical order but it doesn't seem to pick up folders so it just jumbles everything up despite having copied folders in. I find it very tricky to create a playlist on the player itself but one can be create via the computer.
The battery life usually lasts me around a day but with on and off usage, which I feel is satisfactory but there are players with more stamina these days. As the player has a 2.5" colour screen, the more I navigate around i.e. skip songs, watch videos, etc, the quicker the battery is drained but the battery and brightness settings can be adjusted. Either way, battery life isn't bad.
The sound quality is excellent but obviously, it also depends on what headphones you use. I've never used the standard headphones that it came with but with a good quality set of Sony headphones, the sound quality is as good as any iPod or rival MP3 player of the same calibre.
The player has video playing capabilities but I've found it to be quite limited on what videos it can play. I've found that a lot of my AVI video files won't play unless I re-encode / convert them using a third party software so that the video resolution is shrunk right down to match the Vision M's screen resolution. I used PocketDivX to do it and the time it takes to do this depends on the video size, length, computer speed, etc. My 100-150MB AVI files on my pretty decent PC takes 5-10 minutes for each video to be converted so that they would play on the Vision M. It'd be much better if it can just play whatever files I copy to the player without having to do any converting. Once on the player and playing, the screen is quite small so just staring at the screen for 15 minutes makes my eyes tired.
It comes with some very standard headphones, much like most other mp3 players and a data cable. It has the ability to play the video on the player on a TV but it requires an adapter, which needs to be purchased separately. It does come with a beige suede bag to carry it around in but this case is not very good for when using the player when out and about. I need to take the player out of the bag each time I want to do something on it so it is inconvenient. Lastly, it came with a cloth the clean the player with.
It's a high specification player but the annoying navigation takes a lot of getting used to and I feel going for a different brand or just a different Creative model would be a better option. It's not great as a video player unless you don't mind having to convert your videos each time or only have an occasional video you want to put on the player. The screen is pretty small but that is the price to pay for having something portable that can fit in your pocket. Still okay for the odd video to watch on the train. The need to install the software before you can transfer music and videos to the player is a trivial matter as iPod users also need to install software before they can upload their music so it's not a big issue. I don't recommend this player as there are plenty of others on the market and I've since bought myself a SanDisk Sansa.
The player itself is not the smallest in the world, nor is it the lightest so if you're after something small and light, this definitely isn't the player for you. If you want something just for music, then this is overkill so again, I'd recommend looking elsewhere. If you're not fussed about having to install software before being able to upload songs, then go for an iPod (for the better navigation). Alternatively, if you don't like iPods, and want to be able to drag and drop music into the player as well as to use the player as a flash drive, take a look at the SanDisk and iRiver players.
Thanks for reading
* Posted on Ciao under same name
Large, chunky, heavy, ugly, hard to use, non scratch resistant, and dies after a year of normal usage, this is not a product i would buy again. after costing me 120 pounds, it died literally days after its rediculously short year long warranty ran out. It was good as a music player in that it stored a hell of a lot of tracks, and played them well. where it failed it failed due to being obsenely quiet through even the best pair of headphones, and being no good for jogging on accont of turning off if its shaken. The Creative team failed to make a reliable music player here, it regularly deleted my songs and wouldnt accept them back onto it. it had a unpleasant relationship with my pc at best, even though its software was intended for use on windows. In my opinion, buy an i-pod, unless you want an ugly but valuable paperweight.
-60Gb capacity to carry 15,000 songs tens of thousands of photos and 240 hours of video
-2.5" colour screen displays 262,144 colours for high definition video and photo viewing
-USB host feature, transfer files to the Zen without your pc
-video files it accepts are wmv9, mpeg1,2 and 4-sp, motion JPEG, divX 4 and 5 and Xvid
-up to 16 hours of continous audio playback and 5 hours of video playback
-FM radio and voice recorder
-works with subscription and pay-per-download music and video services
because you have to install software for this Zen your PC needs to have these specs for a smooth run
-pentium 3/AMD duron or better
-256 RAM or higher
-170MB of HDD (harddrive space) or higher
-USB 1.1 or 2.0
~What I Think~
well i have had one of these for 3 months now and its great i never have to remove any of the songs off it like i did with my old 1GB mp3, the video is great for when im in the car or sat in a lesson with nothing to do, i do recommend if your going to buy one then i would buy a silicone case and some screen protectors for it as it gets scratched very easily and although they may seem like nothing after a while they start to get on your nerves a little esspecially when your watching a video. the radio is not the best thing on it but i dont really use it because i prefer to listen my own music. the microphone is as good as a high price dictaphone so good if you need to store some mental notes for yourself and listen to them over.
CREATIVE ZEN Vision: M - 60GB - (NOIR)
- Now ZEN Now ZEN!!! - 28/05/2008
*Welcome to the concise ZEN Vision guide*
The Creative corporation is known as CREATIVE LABS, which was established in 1993.
The other Creatives Labs also included - America labs- Asia labs- Europe labs.
-The Product > CREATIVES ZEN Vision: M - Portable Media Player 60GB- white - Available RRP date: 08/2007
- > Start < - Creative Zen Vision - > PMP (Portable Media Player)
I've been a design critic for these types of PMP for a couple of years, and yet the Vision: M series has 'almost' ticked all the boxes; which has surprised me. It 's glossy and colourful HD monitor is very smooth and has reached a standard that any-one could not draw fault over.
The MP3 Portable Media Player is compatible with JPEG customary images, that are online/web based; so for those of you wanting a minimum PC spec - you require a Pentium III, running on a Windows XP system, 128 RAM available; this is so that the 60GB PMP device can run smoothly while files are being transfered over from PC to your PMP device. Video's can be transferred as a 60GB storage capacity will allow 120 hrs of WMV (Windows Media Video) playback data; which is very impressive. The audio quality is crystal clear, as is the 256,000 colour monitor. Don't be concerned with the size of visual display; it is surprisingly good. The file recognitions are still limited I feel, though I'm sure this will probably be sorted out in the next model of the Vision: M Series.
**The Package itself**
Vision:M - PMP, Earphones, pouch, installation CD, User Manual, USB Cable.
- Vision: M - Storage 60GB -
60GB is sufficient to play over a 32,000 MP3 music tracks. This mass storage allows a record option for the built-in FM radio; which is fab for capturing a premiership match or pop concert. Quality of audio is top class; even on playback. The Vision M is so much more than the V Plus PMP series.
- Vision: M Series -
The timing for the Vision: M series Zen launch co-incided with the new ipod video nano launch late (2007). You can still see Creatives brand awareness on the products - as I can spot a Creative product due to it's slight inept design navigation. Not that the graphics are that bad, but visually I'm not too enamoured with Creatives approach to their product aesethics.
Overall, the feel of the Vision: M is notably still stocky compared to the Apples' iPod. There is a TV output link up though personally, I have not tried out this facility, as yet.
- Now, that important price -
Retails for 189.99 GBP- For even great offers checkout a cashback offer before buying this product as you can save up to 20.00 GBP - Worth checking out online for these deals. The creative website is a great means of buying direct from the manufacturer, it will also save you money than if you buy direct from a high street retailer.
- My verdict -
I'm going to give the Vision: M - 9/10 overall. The classic black helps with the rating, but it is an impressive device and is functionally very sound.
I hope you have found this review helpful. I'm happy to answer any questions.
Copyright - 1st2thebar - 2008
Theres a curious correlation between home computing hardware and personal music players Im trying to avoid calling them mp3 players, because they dont all use mp3 files.
In the first instance, you got staunch Apple Mac users versus the conglomeration of other PC users whose machines come under the banner of IBM-compatibles.
The personal stereo market is somewhat similar. Everyones heard of an iPod, the Apple offering, but the rest just fall into some sort of generic mp3 category.
Like Macs, iPods tend to win on the cosmetic front too, but of course, being the Bang & Olufsen of the personal stereo set doesnt make you technically the best, in the same way that B&O isnt the best hi-fi by a mile.
Ive got no specific axe to grind vis-à-vis iPods. My wifes got one, or rather somehow mine became ours became hers and she loves it. She also loves the after-market add-ons that owning a market leader gets you access to, like the Kensington hi-fi docking station which allows our Nano to rattle the windows courtesy of a Yamaha home cinema system.
AND ZEN VE GET TO ZEE POINT
However, Ive gotten a little fed up with everything rotating around the iTunes software, where all roads lead inexorably not to Rome but to the iTunes store, perchance to SPEND. I also got fed up with Apples non-standard AAC file format.
All I really wanted was a dinky external disc drive, with the means to dragndrop files of all types to it, with the ability to navigate the file system and listen to, or watch, appropriate multi-media files, all of which are possible to do with an iPod but ONLY if you do it Apples way mostly through their own software. OK, the loading of other files is done via Windows Explorer.
ZEN AND ITS PART IN MEDIA STORAGE
This is where the hunt for the best of the rest comes in.
The Creative Zen wont win so many pretty boy awards as an iPod, and its finish is just as much of a scratch-magnet as its obvious competitor, it being easy to pick up marks to the front plate within days of buying one. However, it has received several magazine awards during its launch year of 2006.
In hindsight, Id seek out a leather case for it pronto, possibly from e-bay, font of all add-ons, before it all starts to look decidedly second-hand. Its a pity that the satin chrome of a previous generation of Zens wasnt retained, but zen, zats progress for you. Its true to say that it comes with a suede-finished pouch in cream which wipes the finger marks off the screen nicely, but the bag itself is destined to look very filthy, very quickly.
Being 60gigabyte in capacity also means that the Zen is a reversion to running from a tiny hard disk drive rather than from solid state memory. I wonder how long it will be before the capacity of non-volatile memory i.e.the kind that stores data even with the power off, catches up with disk sizes like this. It wasnt so long ago that iPod Minis with a 4 gig disk drive were replaced by iPod Nanos without one, and all without losing memory capacity, which has since doubled.
I chose the 60gigabyte version over its half-sized brother, not for its ability to carry my entire CD collection in its head (15,000 songs), but for its ability to dock directly with my Nikon D70 and Canon Ixus 700 digital cameras, so I can offload some of my pictures for further insurance against loss whilst away from home.
This only requires the special USB lead which is supplied and no recourse to a PC. For some reason best known to Creative theyve produced the 30gigabyte version without the ability to do this. This does of course give me a much nicer screen to looks at my pictures, being some 2.5 across the diagonal, and very sharply detailed. The photos then go into separate Imported sections so they dont get mixed up with photos synced from your PC hard drive.
Being hard-disk driven carries a higher battery overhead, but fortunately, the extra bulk required to house a real disk drive brings with it the space to house a more generous battery, so overall, battery life of up to 16 hours when playing music is pretty good, although as with the Nano, I do know that you have to take such figures with a pinch of salt..
Size-wise, the Zen weighs 160 grammes and is 105 mm tall, 60 mm wide and 18 mm thick so its a healthy chunk of "Mums bread puddn" compared to the iPod Nanos dainty "biscotti Amaretti". Joggers who like strapping their music to their biceps had better take note otherwise theyll end up with one arm stronger than the other! Seriously, since this is a hard-drive affair, I wouldnt recommend constantly jarring it anyway.
NOW ZEN, DUZ IT SOUND OK?
Well yes, it does sound OK, but like many gadgets in the personal stereo arena, its let down a bit by the ear-bud (Zen Buddism?) headphones supplied. I cant seem to get them anywhere near the entrance to my inner ear, although holding them there does reveal the Zens bass capability. Playing it through some decent phones with a head-band raises its game considerably, and its sound quality when fed into a hi-fi is near perfect, depending on the compression rate you chose for your mp3 files Ill call them mp3, but in reality, this machine can handle many file formats; just not Apple ones!
In addition to mp3 files, it handles WMA files from Windows Media Player both in their free and copyright formats and WAV files, although why youd want the latter is anyones guess as they are as large as an audio CDs files and take up 10-times more room. Both the mp3 and wma options are capable of being recording in sampling rates of 320 kilobytes per second although the accepted wisdom is to use 128 kilobytes per second as a happy medium between quality and disk economy.
At first, having gotten used to iPods thumb-wheel which has to be just about the best joystick control to be invented since Pontius was a pilot, a certain amount of re-education is needed, but if this was your first player, it wouldnt bother you. You only really get an up-down movement from this thumb-pad, and its circled by more separate buttons. Tapping the centre of the pads slide area selects whatever menu item you are hovering over.
The top-end menu splits your music from videos and pictures plus several other sub-categories.
For instance, you have a built-in FM radio, which like a car radio is easy to set hunting for local stations wherever you are on holiday in Andalusia, I managed to pull in Moroccan French-language stations in stereo . Not only that, but the Zen can also be used as a voice-recorder, say at meetings. It is not a DAB radio, but if you travel a lot this may not be a bad thing. Listening solely to the radio no doubt lengthens battery life no end, but Im unable to quantify this.
Photos can be scrolled through as a slide show with no more battery drain than listening to music.
Movies are something else youll be lucky to watch two full length DVD-equivalents before searching for a mains outlet to charge it. Im still looking for a means to condense whole DVDs into .avi, .wmv or .mpeg files, but the samples on the machine already are pretty impressive and well worthy of the title videos having smooth action and good sound.
ZEN YOU UNINSTALL ZEIR SOFTWARE
Loading your multi-media files to the Zen can be done in one of several ways including using the purpose made and supplied software. This splits down into three or four mini packages, one to help you buy audiobooks, another to manage Zencasts, of which there are so few, and so US-biased as to be useless (to me at least) and a final package to manage the content of your Zen including synchronising it with your PCs media files.
However, theres no real need - those of us used to Windows Media Player will have noticed a SYNC button looking for something to do. This asks you to nominate a device from amongst your USB connections and then its off, like a rat up a drainpipe, loading new additions to your library, and deleting old ones. Even album art makes the transfer safely. Dont make my mistake and let it upload every bloody picture on your disk too! No wonder the first sync took hours!
This approach means that for Windows users at least, theres no need to learn a whole new load of software its been sitting on your PC under-utilised for ages. Likewise, the standardised format for directory structures applies, with music files held on your C:\drive being filed under My Music in My Documents.
You can also designate an area of your choosing to set aside as flash drive leaving you with a mass storage area for the transportation of any kind of file.
Their own software is useful for at least one purpose, and thats to load your MS Outlook (or Outlook Express) address book into the Zens Contacts section, thereby absolving you of the need to do a load more repetitive typing. It youre using the big boys Outlook rather than the Express version, you can also download scheduled tasks and the calendar. Nows the time to start filling it out that address book with more than just e-mail addresses! These options are buried pretty deep so you have to look hard in the Creative Sync manager software.
After first downloading my Windows Media Player lists to the Zen, I was amazed to find a whole stack of artists Id never heard of, which when pursued as far as playing them, seemed to emanate from albums I knew about by artists Id heard of. On inspecting the WMP listings, I find that the Zen shows both artists and contributing artist. Therefore if Joe Bloggs is credited with either jamming on, or writing some of a mainstream track, theyll appear as an artist. The solution is to scroll down all of your track listings changing the Contributing Artist column to be the same as the actual Artist. With a bit of CTRL-C here and CTRL-V there it doesnt actually take too long. In future, Ill be scrutinising every CD that gets ripped, BEFORE it gets ripped. The changes then show up on your Zen next time you sync it.
The official Creative Docking Station (approx. £20) for the Zen Vision M would appear to be merely a means of holding it upright whilst still needing a separate power supply and audio-visual lead, and can therefore be regarded as an expensive block of plastic that does nothing the existing port connector cant do.
One thing I really do miss about iTunes, and I really never thought Id be saying this, is its ability to quickly list duplicates so that they can be deleted thus saving disk space. This is particularly important if you rip a load of compilation albums, as, inevitably you get crossover of content. I couldnt find anywhere in the official Zen suite that you could do this, nor in Windows Media Player, unless you scour an alphabetical list of all tracks.
Creative have, for some economy reason omitted to supply any means of charging this except via its USB link to a PC (which takes around 5 hours from empty), which is fine until you come to take it on holiday for two weeks. They do make a separate charger, but if they can be cheapskate so can I. I did manage to sneak it into an internet café in Spain and used the PC to give it a quick burst of 5 volts whilst sorting through my 893 (!) e-mails.
Older firmware versions of the 30gb model USED to be able to record from radio, but bowing to pressure from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America), this aspect has been written out of the firmware. Yet again, a US authority prevents me from doing something which is legal (and worth doing) in the UK. The powers that be here dont seem to be half as anal as their transatlantic counterparts about the making of radio recordings. After all, lots of people now have a Freeview set-top box possibly with a built-in recorder; no-ones stopping them from recording digitally from the radio. It makes you wonder whether itd be possible to revert it to older firmware. I cant help thinking that theres a nerds forum* somewhere just waiting to have me sign up!
(*Aha, there is, and its called www.anythingbutipod.com so Ive joined it)
NOW IVE HAD A CHANCE TO USE IT
Having just returned from southern Spain, I can report that it put in sterling work, both on the outward flight and during the first week. It was at this point that I found out the hard way that my wifes mini-USB charger, intended for her cell-phone was not man enough for charging the Zen, although by all accounts it should have been. This then led me to believe that the Zen was a dud. But on connecting it back up to my PC, it seems that all is OK, and after an anxious first hour, when my PC couldnt see it, its charged back up normally panic over.
The first things Ive bought since getting back are a separate dedicated mains adapter and the audio/visual lead, thereby solving my charging problem and buying my way via the back door into the wonderful world of using the Zen as a feed for music, slide shows and movies (thats when I find out how to put the latter on the damned thing!)