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Creative Zen Vision M

>> Saturday, November 1, 2008

In its own right, the Creative Zen Vision M is a very capable digital audio player, video player, photo viewer, FM radio, and more. Indeed, one could go on and on about how it has the right specifications to make it a constant companion for entertainment on the go. Let's get things out in the open. The Apple iPod is the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to the digital media player business and, unavoidably, every other device is measured against it.

In most respects, the Vision M matches up pretty well, and there are few things you may even like better. Length and width dimensions are exactly the same at 4.1 and 2.4 inches respectively.

When it comes to girth, though, the iPod has the Vision M beat the Vision M is .7 inches thick, while the iPod measures .4 inches. The Vision M is slightly heavier, too. These details aside, the Vision M feels comfortable, yet sturdy, in the hand, with curved surfaces in all the right places.

Creative takes a somewhat different approach with the Vision M's controls, answering the iPod's Click Wheel with a vertical touch pad which allows you to scroll up and down menus and control volume plus four buttons that offer navigation through the user interface. The contextual menu button on the bottom right is a welcome addition, allowing you to make quick settings changes and view information about media files on the fly functions that are more cumbersome on an iPod.

Creative could have made the buttons a bit more sensitive they require a firm press that gives an overall feeling of clunkiness to an otherwise well designed user interface. Another annoyance is the touch pad's over sensitivity it's easy to make selections unintentionally, sending you on a wild ride through the user interface. The Vision M's screen, which measures 2.5 inches diagonally, offers sharp details, vibrant color, and excellent response with little or no video ghosting during high action sequences.

The 320 x 240 resolution is to be expected from a device this size, and although it's small, you'll likely have no trouble enjoying video while you're sitting on the subway or a flight, or in the back seat of a car. Our only nitpick was the screen's less than stellar viewing angle, especially when compared side by side with a video iPod. While this can be good for maintaining privacy, the narrow viewing angle also means that friends beside you will struggle to see anything other than a black screen.

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