Hands on with Zen Vision:M

EXCLUSIVEJust two hours ago, Creative boss Sim Wong Hoo stood in front of a bunch of journalists in London to announce the launch of the company’s iPo

EXCLUSIVE

Just two hours ago, Creative boss Sim Wong Hoo stood in front of a bunch of journalists in London to announce the launch of the company’s iPod video rival, the Creative Zen Vision:M.

Mr Wong Hoo lacks Steve Jobs’ charisma, but his argument was pretty compelling: the Zen Vision:M is a worthy portable video rival despite being significantly thicker – and a few pounds more expensive – than the iPod.

And now, as we sit here with our own black Vision:M of loveliness front of us, we’re getting a warm feeling inside. And it’s not just the glasses of wine we downed at the launch.

What’s so good about it? Well, for a start the 2.5in screen is better than the iPod’s, with 262,114 colours compared to Apple’s 65,000. Then there’s the FM radio and voice recorder (hardly killer features in our book, but lacking on the iPod). And the slick user interface and improved scroll control are nice too.

But the most important feature of the Zen Vision:M is that inherits many of the video capabilities of the larger-screened - and less pocketable - Zen Vision. So you get multi-format support for DivX, Xvid, MPEG-2, MP4 and WMV plus the ability to play files that aren’t formatted specifically for the screen.

So if you’ve been surreptitiously - not to mention illegally - backing up all your DVDs onto your PC, you’ll be able to drag them onto the Zen and play them without having to wait hours for software to downsample them. An you’ll get four hours of video playback too.  Bear in mind, however, that AC3 audio isn’t supported.

There are also a growing number of legal Windows Media Video files available to download – visit 7digital’s site for a selection of music videos and TV shows to buy for between £1 and £2 a pop.

But the best is yet to come… read more