The MuVo Vidz bears an entirely different form factor from the previous MuVos. It's more boxy at 32 x 66 x 15.7mm and it has an OLED screen compared with the older monochrome display. We felt the screen was plenty bright, though we were doubtful it could win over any video fans with its 1.18-inch display.
The trademark rocker switch of the previous MuVos has been swapped in favour of a quad-directional joystick, which is better suited to the new menu. The joystick offers plenty of tactile feedback and is surprisingly easy to use despite its diminutive dimensions. Hardware controls also include Play, Record and Navigation buttons. These are arranged in a row on one side of the MuVo's body and though the buttons are well spaced out, it proved difficult to manipulate when the MuVo was sitting in a pocket.
The MuVo Vidz has the typical plastic faÃƒÂ§ade of the MuVo series, but Creative may have tried to jazz up the design with a matt metallic plate overlay which proved rather scratch-proof. The curvy corners of the Vidz help to soften its hard corners and confer a little elegance. We also like the silver mirror finish bordering the display. Minute details, yes, but combined, these add a bit of style to what could otherwise become a bland looking MP3 player.
For content navigation, the MuVo Vidz's player menu follows a root directory-styled format, while a graphical interface is retained for the main functions. With such a tiny display, it's actually preferable a root directory view is employed; it makes things easier to read.
If it was a year ago, one look at the MuVo Vidz and we would probably think it's just another nondescript MP3 player. And judging by its 33g mass, it would be hard to imagine it being able to play video given video playback-capable portable devices were still hulking bricks back then.
Looking at the Vidz now, we are not quite sure whether our gizmo genie was on the mark. The MuVo Vidz may be one of the smallest portable video players around, right alongside multimedia midgets like the Cowon iAudio and MPIO, but the 1.18-inch screen and the fact that the Vidz can play only video files with an MV4 extension may be an eyesore to some.
Creative did provide a transcoder software to convert MPEG-4 videos into the required format, and though it's easy enough, it still represents an additional step between ripping the content and playing it on the Vidz. We were not thrilled when we found out that the transcoder can produce only videos with a display of 128 x 80 pixels and there are precious few settings you can tweak, other than changing the display orientation, audio sampling/bit rate and video quality.
Because the screen is really small, there are no options to adjust the display since the visual benefits would probably be too tiny to be appreciated.
Other than the transcoder and a playback application, Creative has kept the software to a minimum. Content transfer is conducted via a drag-and-drop interface, typical of flash MP3 players. Viewing text on the screen is ill advised since the MuVo Vidz leaves words disjointed and sentences clinging in midair.
As an audio player, the MuVo Vidz has the basics down pat. It supports MP3 and WMA, a five-band user-defined and four preset equalisers (rock, jazz, classic, pop). There's also FM radio and radio/voice/line-in recording. Picture viewing is included although our opinion on it is the same as for the video.
One look at the accessories and we knew this was not something made by Creative. The unbranded earphones were such a big giveaway; since when did the company not include a pair of its own?
The transcoder produces videos with an odd aspect ratio of 8:5. It's a strange one for sure, but it translates well on the MuVo Vidz's screen and gives the impression we are watching a miniature widescreen video. But probably because of the lossy compression, our viewing experience was marred by colour banding and a mild dose of pixellation. Not to mention that we could barely read the subtitles because of the small screen.
Audio-wise, the MuVo Vidz sounded bright enough, and was pounding in the low end as well. The preset equalisers generally worked well, but skip the Pop setting; Diana Krall's throaty vocals sounded hollow. We liked the fact that the equaliser selection could be accessed from the playback screen itself, unlike other MP3 players which require multiple button presses.
Using 240MB worth of MP3 files played on a loop, the MuVo Vidz scored 11 hours 30 minutes in our audio drain tests which was a good 90 minutes more than Creative's claimed battery life, though it's still below average. Video drain tests, on the other hand, was an average 4 hours 24 minutes using five MV4 files each with a file size of around 30MB played on a loop.
In our transfer test, using 240MB worth of files, the Vidz did the deed at a blazing 7.5MB per second.