A look at the Creative Zen Vision:M

Recently I managed to purchase a Zen Vision:M to replace my existing iRiver H10 6GB. The iRiver was an awesome player but had no video capabilities that are all the rage today, at the same time my music/mp3 collection had already exceeded its 6GB capacity so I really did require a player with something a larger amount of storage.

I had two choices here:

  • Flash Storage OR
  • Hard Disk based storage

The latter offered much greater sizes as hard disks can come in 30/60 and 80GB guises, although 30GB is more then enough for my requirements. Hard disk players aren’t as robust as flash based players which contain solid state memory and no moving parts as hard disk players do. The downside of flash based memory is that it’s expensive to produce so you can’t get high capacities yet. So far the highest I’ve seen is the 8GB Sandisk Sensa which is a superb flash player.

At the end of the day, I opted for the Vision:M. It had a nice capacity, a somewhat large screen for video podcasts which now interest me. It also has an FM radio which is essential too. The variety of video formats the Vision:M supports are quite large so this is a top video player already!


  • 30GB capacity to carry up to 15,000 songs, tens of thousands of photos, 120 hours of video
  • 2.5” (51×39 mm) colour screen displays 262,144 colours
  • Supports photo zoom & customisable menu
  • Watch digital videos (WMV9, MPEG1/2/4-SP, Motion-JPEG, compatible DivX® 4, 5 and XviD)
  • View digital photos and album art JPEG (BMP / GIF / PNG / TIFF)
  • Customisable Shortcut Button
  • ZEN vertical touch pad control
  • FM radio
  • Works with subscription, pay-per-download music and video services
  • Syncs with Microsoft Outlook Contacts, Calendar & Tasks
  • Up to 14 hours of continuous audio playback, 4 hours of continuous video playback

The player is roughly the same size as an iPod Video. It’s the same height but a bit thicker at 1.8cm while the iPod is 1.4cm. The Vision:M also weighs a little bit more at 160g compared to 157g.

First impressions when I took this thing out of the box were "Blimey it’s huge!". In comparison to my iRiver which was so slim and small, it was a monster!  It still manages to fit into my jean pockets fine which is essential to me. The Vision:M comes in a range of colours, of which two are only appealing to me. White, black, green, blue and pink! I fancied either the black or white but ended up going for the former as I prefer my player not to be mistaken for an iPod.

The Screen & Video

The Vision:M has a better quality screen then the iPod video and it’s immediately visible if you compare the two side by side. The Zen has a 262k colour screen, while the iPod apparently has only 65k. Also the contrast on the Vision:M is miles better. Both of these players have the same screen resolution by the way, that is 320×240.

A great feature of video players is that most of them can be connected to a TV, so you can watch your content while on a trip staying at a hotel for example. The iPod Video can output video at its native screen resolution which is 320×240, while the Zen will output it’s video at 640×480 (VGA) so your content will look much better. I’ve ripped so many DVD films to my Zen so far and most of them look stunning upon playing them. I had gasps from my office as I showed them Terminator 2, and then connected it to a nearby TV which displayed it beautifully.

Out of the box, the screen will have a clear screen protector covering it. While this does protect the screen to an extent, it’s best to buy a proper screen protector as soon as possible. Reason being that the Zen has the same scratching quirks that the iPod’s have. Aside from being fingerprint magnets, scratches appear out of no where on these players, so it pays not to being solidly using them until you have a clear screen protector fitted.

What are these screen protectors?  Well I’ll just cut and paste one of the FAQ answers from two of the most popular skin makers for MP3 players and mobile phones. The Invisible Shield and Best Skins Ever are exactly the same thing. The IS is a bit more expensive because it comes with a few more items designed to simplify its application onto your player.

A: The invisibleSHIELD is the toughest, most durable screen protector on planet earth. It is made from a film originally created by the military to protect the leading edges of helicopter blades from wear and tear while travelling hundreds of miles per hour!

I bought mine from Best Skins Ever and it took about 5mins to apply. I skinned the display area and the button area below it, and it took about a week to properly set in. Now that it has you honestly cannot even see or feel it. I’ve already managed to accidentally drop a spanner on the player without any scratches or damage, and I’ve dropped it once on the floor so far to no effect. Top stuff!

Apparently, the latest Zen’s have a special scratch resistant coat applied to them. Weather this is true or not, and if my player has it, I have no idea . I did use it for a solid week without a case while at work and while it was in my back pocket, I didn’t get a single scratch so I was extremely happy with that.

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