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Creative's Zen Vision to battle iPod

Hoping to cash in on MP3 mania, company starts taking orders for its 30GB Zen Vision music and video player. Photos: Creative takes on iPod

Hoping to take a bite out of Apple Computer's iPod bounty, Creative Technologies began seeding orders for its next-generation music and video player.

Available first in the United States and Europe and then elsewhere, the 30GB Zen Vision sports a 3.7-inch color screen and can store up to 120 hours of video or carry as many as 15,000 songs, the company said.

Zen Vision

A little larger in size and heavier than even Apple's 60GB iPod photo, the device comes in black or white and sells for $399.99. It initially will be available online only.

Creative stock got a boost last week, when Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates again mentioned that he would like to work with someone like Creative to counter Apple's runaway iPod success.

Creative has been in need of some big news before its scheduled fourth quarter financial statement next week. Back in June, executives told analysts to expect a quarterly financial loss because of a slowdown in demand and extreme competition from other MP3 player makers.

Now, the company that has been spending millions in anti-iPod advertising is hoping its new Zen player will capitalize on a few things that --like play video.

"The Zen Vision supports video from TiVoToGo and popular Internet video formats including DivX," the company said in a statement.

The device also allows for photo transfer directly from a compact flash card or up to 17 other variations of media through an optional compact flash adapter that Creative sells.

In addition to playing music files, the Zen Vision supports downloads from Internet music stores such as Napster, MSN Music and Music Now. The device can also tap into music subscription services such as Yahoo Music Unlimited and Napster to Go. The company said the player also has a built-in FM radio with 32 preset options, and FM recording.

The Zen Vision comes with a USB cable to connect to a PC. A docking station is available as well.