Ah, the Internet age. When nobody can keep anything secret--least of all Amazon.com. The retail giant has been responsible for more than its fair share of broken embargoes. The latest faux pas? A presale listing of the Creative Zen, a brand new flash MP3 player set to "officially" launch this evening. Unfortunately, I don't actually get to see one in person until later this afternoon, but I do have some juicy details to share.
The new Creative Zen--no surname--will replace the chunky Zen Vision:M. That's right: no more hard drive players for Creative (aside from the Vision PVP, which has so far escaped the ax). The device will come in 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB versions priced at $149.99, $199.99, and $299.99, respectively. In a departure from its typical m.o., Creative will only offer the Zen in black. It's a bit sad--the green Vision:M was one of my favorites--but it must be said that the sleek and slender black player is quite a hottie. It measures just 3.3 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.4 inch and boasts a lovely 2.5-inch TFT screen, which can support up to 16.7 million colors. As usual, the Creative Zen will offer a desirable array of features, including a voice recorder, an FM tuner with support for up to 32 presets, and PIM functionality for syncing contacts and calendar info. Further, Creative is tacking on one surprising extra that we haven't ever seen in the Zen line: an SD card slot for adding more memory. Considering the move to flash memory from the more capacious hard drive, I'm definitely keen on the addition of the expansion slot.
Creative is also adding additional format support to the Zen. Namely, the player will support unprotected AAC and iTunes Plus tracks. You'll continue to get support for MP3, WMA (subscription tracks included), and Audible files. The video player takes an array of formats, such as MPEG 1, 2 and 4; DiVX; XViD; and WMV. And the rated battery life of 5 hours for video should satisfy most viewers; the 25-hour audio battery rating is also quite adequate. Naturally, Creative aims to keep up with its stellar sound quality reputation with a 97dB signal-to-noise ratio.
The Creative Zen is expected to go on sale in September; the following optional accessories will also be offered:
- A leather case with integrated stand, priced at $24.99
- A clear acrylic hard case with a stand and clip, priced at $19.99
- An armband with a player enclosure, priced at $19.99
- A three-pack of colored skins in black, red, and blue, priced at $19.99
- A skin with wire management, priced at $19.99
- A three-pack of screen protectors, priced at $7.99
- A power adapter or car charger, priced at $29.99