Creative Zen Vision W

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Creative Zen Vision W
  • Creative Zen Vision W
  • Creative Zen Vision W
  • Creative Zen Vision W

Pros

  • Large widescreen display, Lots of storage, Intuitive interface, Wide variety of formats supported

Cons

  • Controls can be a little stiff, Somewhat bulky

Bottom Line

If you're after a portable media player with all the bells and whistles, Creative's Zen Vision W is a brilliant choice.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

With portable multimedia players, the challenge is achieving a good balance between weight, screen size, storage and features. Nobody wants a device that requires its own tow truck, but at the same time watching TV shows on a 1in display is hardly enthralling. Creative have long been players in this market, and with the Zen Vision W they have solidified themselves as contenders for the crown. The follow up to their Zen Vision, this product offers a larger 4.3in screen, widescreen playback and comes in either 30GB or 60GB capacities.

Measuring 134mm x 75mm x 22mm and weighing 276g it is slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor, but when you factor in the bigger display and larger capacity hard drive this isn't a surprise. It is a little chunky for carrying around in your pocket, but if a bag is regularly by your side the Zen Vision W is a more than manageable size.

The display is always a critical factor when it comes to portable media players and thankfully this is one area Creative has attempted to make improvements. Increasing its size from 3.7in to 4.3in creative has achieved a great balance between too big and too small. All of our test footage looked fantastic, with vibrant colours and crisp edges. It has an anti-gloss coating that operates very well (perfect for fluorescent train lighting) and brightness can be adjusted for a variety of situations. We had no problem viewing the screen even in direct sunlight, and the viewing angles are excellent both vertically and horizontally, so in a pinch multiple people can watch the Zen Vision W in relative comfort..

However, Creative has done more than just make the screen bigger. Sporting a 480 x 272 resolution, the display is now also widescreen, allowing 16:9 films and television programs to be viewed in their native aspect ratio, which is a feature separating this player from many others on the market.

It supports a massive range of file formats as well, including AVI, WMV, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MJPEG, DivX and XviD. So basically everything you could ask for is covered. The only thing to possibly complain about is that it doesn't support high definition(HD) files (ie: files with a resolution of 1280 x 720 or higher), but this sort of device isn't designed for HD playback.

On the audio front, it is a little more limited, supporting just MP3, WMA and WAV. A 3.5mm headphone jack is present as well as a pair of earbuds which were of serviceable but not notable quality. As usual we tested the audio quality using a third party pair of headphones and we were quite impressed with the results. The Zen Vision W won't blow you away, but it more than holds its own against competing models. Music was rendered with clarity and detail, allowing us to pick out the individual elements of our test songs. Bass is strong, but not overpowering and the mid range has a nice energy to it.

If the default sound isn't to your tastes there are a number of equalization presets as well as a custom five-band option for the more adventurous music lover. Shuffle and loop modes are also present, along with bass boost and smart volume restriction.

The interface is fairly standard, providing an intuitive tiered menu system, which most users should have no trouble with. You can sort music by artist, album, genre or a host of other options, and video files can be standard videos, such as those from a camcorder, or downloaded TV episodes. Photos can be viewed directly or put into a slideshow and they look great on the 4.3in display. A compact flash slot is also included for the more avid photographer, although this option is somewhat dated considering most cameras use SD cards these days.

The controls are one of the only negatives worth mentioning. They are nicely laid out, with a directional pad, play/pause, track skip, menu and back buttons all sitting to the left of the display. However at times the keys can be a little stiff and difficult to press, which can become irritating.

As usual the Zen Vision W connects to the PC via a Mini USB cable and data can be dragged and dropped across with ease. There is also a Composite cable for connection to an external display device, allowing you to watch your video or play your music on any home entertainment setup. We were, however, a little disappointed that you can't record footage from the TV or another external source directly onto the unit.

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