An Oldie, But a Goodie

Until about a year ago, I was staunchly anti-iPod. I thought Apple's super-dominant portable media player had some good points, but overall I felt like it was meant for non-geek consumers who just wanted a small device that would play their music and a few videos without requiring too much tech knowledge. To me, that meant a less powerful device that would limit me too much. So I turned to Creative Labs for my PMP. The Creative Zen Vision: M is an answer to the iPod Video. It plays MP3s, WMAs, WAVs, and a plethora of video formats that the iPod still doesn't even approach.

Though I'm now a huge fan of my iPod Touch, I still turn to the Zen from time to time for its superior compatibility, especially with video. I could buy the video output equipment for my Touch, but I don't really see a reason to do so when I already have the Zen Video Cable, which conveniently plugs right into the dongle already included with the player for USB and AC power. It might be old and sluggish by today's standards, but with a 60gb hard drive, my Zen serves as a more portable Apple TV of sorts. I can load almost any video format I want onto it and watch it on my TV. It's also great for photo slideshows, and of course music. In fact, audiophiles won't be surprised to hear that the Zen's signal-to-noise ratio still puts the iPod to shame. Another small, but neat feature is the programmable wild card button that you can set to perform any function you want. I use it to play the entire music library on shuffle.

Sure, the Zen has its flaws too. The interface is a copy of the iPod Video interface, with the exception that it allows for custom wallpapers and a choice of color schemes. Also, instead of a click wheel, the Zen has a vertical-only touchpad. The Zen is pretty thick, about twice the thickness of a 30gb iPod Video, but if you just use it as a stay-at-home video player, as I now do, that won't matter much at all.

All in all, I still love my Zen Vision: M, if not for its form factor and GUI, then for its compatibility with virtually all popular audio and video formats. I'll continue to use it as my own version of an Apple TV until someone convinces me there's something better for my needs, or until it stops working. Whichever comes first.

Not to make a big deal of it, but I've just realized that this is my 100th post. I set out to write a semi-regular blog and stick with it for as long as possible for a change. I've blogged before, but this is easily the longest-running blog I've ever maintained, and I've been far more interested in this project than in my previous attempts. I owe this mainly to the support I've gotten from readers who have commented here, on Twitter, and on Friendfeed, so thanks to all of you! I hope to keep this going for a long time to come.

Frank Emanuele

I’m a proud Catholic, social media nerd, podcaster, musician, blogger, New Yorker & Community Manager at Likeable Media. I’m all about Superman, Star Wars & the Beatles! I love to express myself in the written word. There’s nothing quite like reading your ideas on a page (or screen, as the case may be) and knowing that others are reading those ideas and thinking about them. Please read, comment, and most importantly, enjoy! The content and opinions represented in this blog represent my personal views and not the views of my employer. For more info, visit