Creative Zen Vision:W

The bulky but easy-to-use Creative Zen Vision:W and its nice screen will dazzle video lovers who don't require video recording.


8.0
CNET Rating
8.6
User Rating

View more from Creative »


The Zen Vision W quickly brings Creative up to speed in the blossoming world of portable video. And how could it not, with its splendid 4.3-inch wide-screen display, intuitive control set, removable battery, and CompactFlash slot? Bulkier than the aging Zen Vision, this aggressively-priced 30GB ($479.95) or 60GB ($599.95) portable video player definitely marches to its own beat, forgoing the DVR functionality that makes the Archos 04 series and Cowon A2 so special. But with more sources of compatible video content becoming available via online stores and set top boxes, should we care?

The silver and black Zen Vision:W makes the Vision look and feel wimpy. At 134 by 75 by 22 mm and 276 grams, the 30GB version is much heftier than its predecessor (74.4 by 124.2 by 20.1 mm and 232 grams). The 60GB W is a tad thicker and heavier. It's substantial in the hand, and while pocketable for sure, it's more of a backpack device. In other words, you don't want to be jogging with this thing, though it's extremely durable, thanks in part to the magnesium skin.


The 30GB Creative Zen Vision:W (right) next to the older 30GB Zen Vision (left).

Of course the payoff is the gorgeous 4.3-inch TFT screen, which boasts a resolution of 480x272 pixels with 262K colors. Photos and video pop off the screen, and unlike the Vision's 3.7-inch 4/3 screen, it has an exceptionally wide viewing angle (however, when viewed head on, the Vision's 640x480-pixel screen is impressive). The antireflective screen is vivid and sharp, and you can adjust its brightness and choose any background image you like. Personally, I think the Archos 604's screen edges out the W's, but both are great in my book. I was also impressed with the W's ability to output video and photos to an external display at a maximum of 720x480.

The W's blue backlit controllers, exactly the same as the Vision's, are quite intuitive, and the GUI is classic Creative, simple and to the point with conveniences such as the context-driven options and a customisable main menu. A five-way controller plus Back, context menu, and playback buttons lie to the left of the screen -- designed for right-handed use all the way. The buttons are tactile and actually offer resistance. Some users may not like the popping sound and sensation of the buttons.

Below these buttons is a built-in mono speaker -- some fidelity with very little oomph. The right spine includes the headphone jack and a rubber cover, which hides the DC input, as well as the A/V-out jack. You'll find a Type II CompactFlash (CF) slot on the right spine. This is handy for many digital camera users, particularly those with Microdrives. In addition to photos, you can import videos via the CF slot (and you get the option to transfer the latest 10, 20, or 50 of the latest files). Transfers are quick and photos look great onscreen. Though you can zoom, create slide shows, and rotate, I prefer the Archos 604 as a photo viewer, though you won't get a CF slot.


The Type II CompactFlash slot distinguishes the Vision:W from much of its competition.

A standard mini USB and a dock connection port (no dockable accessories yet) reside on the bottom, while up top, you'll find the power/hold switch, pinhole microphone, and dedicated volume buttons. I love dedicated volume, but I often instinctively use the main up/down controls, which of course don't work (though Creative could implement this if it wanted).

On the back, you'll find the thin and easily removable lithium-ion battery pack -- a useful and rare design feature (the Archos 604 also has a removable battery). An integrated kickstand for hands-free viewing would have been useful. The bundled accessories include passable earbuds, a wall-wart power adapter, a USB cable, a software disc (with Creative Media Explorer, Yahoo Music Engine, and other utilities), A/V-out cables, and a felt case.


The removable battery is a great design feature, especially for travelers.


The Creative Zen Vision:W with its bundled accessories (minus the CD and manuals).

The W can handle MP3, WAV, and WMA (including subscription music) audio files. This time around, the Vision supports album art, albeit as tiny thumbnails. The W is decent as an MP3 player and holds it own in sound quality, and it includes handy features such as playlist creation and the Creative DJ (that is, Album of the Day and Rarely Heard). However, you should justify the unit's size and weight by using it for video.

The Zen Vision:W supports a large number of video formats, including WMV, MPEG-4 SP, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX 4/5, and XviD. In most cases, Windows Media Player will do the converting for you, if necessary, though the bundled Creative Media Explorer will do the job (as well as help you create slide shows).

The handy bookmarking feature allows you to mark an exact point in a song for up to 10 bookmarks. Videos get bookmarked automatically when you exit the video. You'll also get a decent FM radio with up to 32 autoscannable and namable presets, but no radio recording. Reception is good. The Microphone feature is decent sounding (16kHz mono ADPCMWAV). I like that you get a visual volume level meter. Finally, the Vision:W continues the Zen support for read-only Outlook syncing, and the MTP device can be used as a hard drive on Windows and Mac machines, though you need to first partition the drive within the menu.

Battery life is rated for 13 hours for audio (mediocre) and 4.5 for video (decent). CNET Labs was able to muster nearly 17 hours of MP3 audio on a single charge; video fared well, too, with a solid 7.6 hours of playback per charge. You can recharge via USB, but it will take twice as long (6 hours vs. 3 hours) to fully recharge. Our sister site in Asia posts battery results in its review.

Overall processor performance is above average (start-up is quick), though you'll hit occasional one-second delays, especially when scrubbing through video tracks. The Archos 604 feels more precise with video scrubbing. The way a new screen slides into view when navigating on the W seems sluggish to me.

Sound quality is very good (though not as good as the Creative Zen Vision:M's) and the numerous preset (and five-band custom) EQs are effective (as is Bass Boost). I just don't like having to navigate to audio settings to apply EQs; this should have been included in the context menu.

Overall, I think the Zen Vision:W is well suited for those who already have large collections of videos (and those who use TiVo To Go) and for those who take lots of photos. It's a bulky beast, but an impressive display, good video format support, a sweet price, and nice sound quality make the W a solid playback-only choice.

Previous Story

Sony DVE7000S DVD Walkman

MP3 Players
Next Story

Archos 604 (30GB)



Add Your Review 27


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
 

Mdogg posted a comment   

The Good:Got wet twice, shutdown for a whole day and was working perfectly fine after.

The Bad:Too heavy for jogging with. People will think ur carrying a gps/brick

The thing is great for watching movies and animation on the go (My friend usually takes it off me to watch simpson's on the train...lolz). It is very robust! droped it atleats 8 times, had to wash it twice and it got wet 3 times. Decent Hard Drive space (60gb) but very heavy! U might be mistaken for a lost immigrant because people tebd to think ur carrying around a gps

 

Tors posted a comment   

The Good:All my friends want one

The Bad:Cant take it on a run because its to big

I like my zen i got it for my bday last yr and all my friends want one!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason
6
Rating
 

Jason posted a review   

The Good:great screen

The Bad:No line out and no stop button. Music keeps playing
Not good sound, headphones or speaker (maybe have a bad one).

Hi, bought ZVW and it is going great. Although I urgently need accessories. Cases (leather and silicon), cradle dock, screen savers and remote. If anyone can help me I would be much appreciated.

Eagle
10
Rating
 

Eagle posted a review   

The Good:Good for subtitles
Supports lots of formats
Great looking case

The Bad:A bit slow when fast-forwarding files

Superb for videos and movies, easy drag-and-drop style and massive screen for subtitles.

Eagle
10
Rating
 

Eagle posted a review   

The Good:Good for subtitles
Supports lots of formats
Great looking case

The Bad:A bit slow when fast-forwarding files

Superb for videos and movies, easy drag-and-drop style and massive screen for subtitles.

Doherty
1
Rating
 

Doherty posted a review   

The Good:I don't have it and want a credit

The Bad:You seem to be coning retravision and me

I'm not sure if you are the people who bring in the Zen Creative brand but I returned mine to Retravision Armadale in Victoria after the second one I purchased played up before Christmas and am still wait for a credit from your company so I can purchas a new MP3 Player. This has been going on for about 8 months now with nothing being resolved, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT as the Retravision Store can not give me a credit until you give them one and I'm still out of pocke around $350.

evalia
10
Rating
 

evalia posted a review   

The Good:Amazing 4"3 screen
Simple navigating =D
speakers/voice recorder
Supports so many video formats!

The Bad:Buttons sometimes hard to press =P
can't play some video formats like flv unless converted (which takes a long time)- but I don't know of anything else that can play that.

Awesome port. media player ^.^
Works well, is reliable and I prefer it over everything else on market nowadays...it gives me exactly what I need !!

alohaluau
8
Rating
 

alohaluau posted a review   

The Good:Beautiful wide screen, watch serials on the way to work and back on the bus, takes most vids without converting, built in speaker, easy navigation.

The Bad:First gen 60Gig a bit heavy compared to 2nd gen slim version, at least it can stand on a level table!

Had one since 12/06, happy to report no problems with it. Used on a daily basis at work for mp3, bought Creative Popz speakers for more oomph, wireless remote for convenience and silicone skin for protection.

sam William
7
Rating
 

sam William posted a review   

The Good:Has a clear screen and colour reproduction is pleasing. Anyone used the voice recorder?

The Bad:When bought along with Video Camera was not told the two were not compatable. Own an Apple Powerbook and no joy there either only works with Windows.

Bought our60GB GO W overseas to download video from a Sanyo Xacti HD and finally discover it will NOT accept HD at all can download camera card OK I think;

Opal
5
Rating
 

Opal posted a review   

The Good:Works well when it works

The Bad:Skips on tracks and freezes. Acts like it's possessed every now and then and starts skipping between songs and back and forth from FM to music library. Going to take it back to the store.

Bought one 6 days ago, very impressed with the features, the screen, the quality of video playback and photos. But on day 2 - it froze up on a photo, the music kept playing but it locked up the buttons, had to remove the battery to unfreeze it. After listening to it for a very short time, noticed that it skips on every 3rd song as if the hard drive has bad sectors and I only just got it and have been extremely cautious with it.


Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Creative Zen Vision:W

  • Mdogg

    Mdogg

    "The thing is great for watching movies and animation on the go (My friend usually takes it off me to watch simpson's on the train...lolz). It is very robust! droped it atleats 8 times, had to wash ..."

  • Tors

    Tors

    "I like my zen i got it for my bday last yr and all my friends want one!!!!!!!!!!!"

  • Jason

    Jason

    Rating6

    "Hi, bought ZVW and it is going great. Although I urgently need accessories. Cases (leather and silicon), cradle dock, screen savers and remote. If anyone can help me I would be much appreciated. "

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products