Ever since the Popular Mechanics slipup that leaked a photo and some cursory info about the new wide-screen Zen Vision, we've been pressing our contacts at Creative for more details. Today, our curiosity has been somewhat satiated--at least for the time being. Creative confirmed the pricing of $399 for the 30GB version and $499 for the 60GB and provided a fairly comprehensive list of features, which doesn't seem to be much longer than that of the original Vision. The W will be available sometime this month, and you can already read the review on CNET Asia.
Upside: The Vision:W is encased in magnesium, meaning it should be extremely durable (a good thing in any investment), and it features a 4.3-inch wide-screen display with a resolution of 480x272 pixels. These are the same screen specs as found on the Archos 604, which displayed fantastic video, so we have the same hopes for the W. The W also supports a wide variety of video formats--MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4-SP, MJPEG, DivX 4 and 5, and XviD--and it supports TiVo To Go content, which can be transferred from your TiVo video recorder. There's a built-in CompactFlash card slot for direct transferring of digital photos, and an A/V out jack for displaying photos and video on your TV (at 720x480 resolution). The W is compatible with DRM-10 WMA content from the likes of Urge and Rhapsody, and it plays Audible files. Other features include a built-in FM radio with 32 presets, a microphone for voice recording, an alarm clock, and PIM functionality for syncing with Microsoft Outlook (contacts, calendar, and so on). Users will also have the option of purchasing several accessories, including a docking station, a CompactFlash adapter, a screen protector, a standing case, a travel charger, a wired remote, and an IR remote.
Downside: The rated battery life of 14 hours for audio is rather disappointing, especially considering the size of the device--a battery that large seems like it should out put dozens of hours of tunes. The 4.5-hour estimate for video is acceptable, but we would have been stoked if they'd stretched it to something truly revolutionary-- say, 10 hours? Who knows, though; maybe the Vision:W will surprise us when we get it into the Labs. We also wish the W had a built-in video recorder with Macrovision compliance so that we could record directly from all of our favorite DVDs.
Outlook: The Zen Vision:W is a welcome improvement to its regular-screened predecessor, and we're hopeful that some of the issues found in the last version (the terrible viewing angle, for example) will be remedied in this model. No word yet on whether the W will support protected WMV from the likes of Movielink and CinemaNow, but that would be a welcome feature. Stay tuned for our hands-on review for the answers to all of these questions and concerns.