August 3, 2005 2:15 PM PDT

Creative's Zen Vision to battle 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 Apple doesn't do yet--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.

33 comments

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It always amazes me
that when companies copy Apple's stuff, they *really* copy it. That
battery icon is a pixel perfect rip from the iPod photo. At least *try*
to make it look like it's original. Come on!
Posted by (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Copy
"when companies copy Apple's stuff, they *really* copy it."

Did you see the Recycle Bin in Windows Vista? There are a million type of ways to create a trash can, yet they chose a metal trash basket just like OS X.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Yay! Another iPod Killer
So when are these so-called "iPod Killers" actually gonna kill the
iPod? My guess is... NEVER!
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It's impossible to have an iPod killer...
When sheep buy the product. The iPod is a broken music device out of the box. Let me know when they get around to fixing it. In the meantime I'll stick with Rio Karma that plays back music the way it was meant to be played. Gapless.
Posted by ballssalty (219 comments )
Link Flag
iPod Killer is for Losers
It is for people who have no taste and do not appreciate iPod's beautiful design and user interface :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
It must be hard to be CREATIVE
are they really spending Millions in an anti-iPod campaign?? Hmm.
wow.. I'm impressed. I hope that somehow proves to be profitable..
it's not like Bill Gates can't help them.. probably is funding them
out of spite. if so, then they can keep their cost down hopefully
Posted by nanorye (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who Wants to Help Pirates?
Seriously, which company is dumb enough to support a product that has no innovation? :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
Where's the Apple Logo?
I can't believe it, it looks exactly the same as an iPod flipped on its
side with a less interesting selection tool. Can Apple do anything
about it? It is amazing how all these companies are copying a lot
of Apple products, anything from Vista being so much like Tiger to
this now.
Posted by (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...NOT!
SO CREATIVE OF THEM?!!
Posted by nanorye (10 comments )
Link Flag
Apple is Copying from Others
It is amazing how all these companies are copying a lot of Windows products, anything from Tigger being so much like Vista to this now :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
As soon as Apple announces...
...the video iPod, Creative has a chance to sell a few of these bricks. But watch, Apple is going to come out with the killer app/device for video.

The other thing I love about this story is that Gates is essentially admitting the Microsoft is so lame that they can't even create their own portable device.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Creative = Incompetent
Well usually Creative makes some of the absolute worst products ever. Their design team obviously consists of a pack of blind monkeys with no hands. But this.. it looks they might have hired someone away from Apple to design it - and I actually kinda like it. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, eh (not so) Creative?

Now, it just needs to support every video codec in the world to make the geeks happy and it needs to be a decent price point, not fall apart the day after the warranty expires like every Creative product does and has to actually be usable. THEN it might actually be worth the time and money for the early adopters.
Posted by David Dudley (446 comments )
Link Flag
Oh yeah, I can't wait...
I'm sure Apple's video pod will sell tons to the sheeple but I'm sure it will suck like the iPoo. It won't support XviD or DivX but will support Apple's completely proprietary and useless version of MPEG-4 that no one uses. For it to succeed it would have to support both DivX and XviD. Creative made the mistake with their Zen PMC by not supporting those formats and it bombed. At least they seem to have learned their lesson and included support with this one.
Posted by ballssalty (219 comments )
Link Flag
Who Needs Video iPod?
If you want to watch movie on that tiny little screen, go ahead. I will use my PSP :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
I kinda like it
Who cares if Creative is innovative or not. It's not like apple owns
design patents on every photo or video viewing device. All I care
about is right price and form factor. Besides, I am tired of iPod-
iTunes marriage that won't let me play songs purchased from other
online music stores. If this player's size is just as much as my
iPod... I am going to buy it. I am glad that it has a memory card slot
which means I don't have to worry about forgetting iPod-photo
adapter or caryying my camera cable.
Posted by indrakanti (90 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mac Fan made a funny
Let's turn your logic around.

Besides, I am tired of the (insert subpar, ugly, poorly designed non-iPod mp3 player name here) - (insert name of buggy, rental music service where I own nothing for my monthly tithing) marriage that won't let me play songs purchased from the iTunes music stores, which currently owns 83% of the market, while the rest of the players fight each other for the remaining table scraps.

If Creative is hurting as much as it said it is (bad quarterly results pre-announced in June) due to the competitive mp3 player market, well I would love to see the ghost town inside of the iRiver hq.

The best part of this whole situation was when the CEO of Creative announced that he was going to put 100$ million into marketing his mp3 player line. Then he proceeded to let his "design team" make pieces of crap that remind me of Dick Cheney - repugnant, unmarketable and nothing any human with eyesight would want to look at twice.

I award the CEO of Creative 20 honorary Gils. Good job, and I hope you've got a nice golden parachute written into your contract.
Posted by David Dudley (446 comments )
Link Flag
Karma only plays "gapless"...
...when you encode your MP3s in a specific format, because most MP3 encodings just don't support gapless playback.

It's not the iPod that's broken, and Apple doesn't own the MP3 format.

Hope that helps you out.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mac and cheese
You mac-heads are worse than the Microsoft bashers. Your favorrite company makes a decent product and provides a supply service to supplement their revenue, err, I mean support your purchase.
But the iPod products are over priced compared to the rest of the market. They may be better, but not as much as they're charging. If someone wants to buy one, more power to them. Plenty of folks buy Cadillacs too. They have their place.
But Creative offers a decent product at a reduced cost and with this is offering features (video... DIVX people!) that iPod doesn't and probably won't ever. Regardless of your fan membership, divx/xvid are indesputably more popular than a proprietary format (Sony learned this the hard way with their audio players).
There is room for both and as long as these companies compete we, the consumer, benefit with more choice and price competition. Always a good thing.
One more thing: anyone who prefers to buy MP3s online rather than buying a CD and creating their own compressed audio in the format of their choice is lazy and short-sighted. It takes all of what, a few minutes to rip a CD? And you can skip all the use limitations of the various download services. I'm happy iTunes is making money, but you're a fool to buy inferior quality music at CD prices just for convience. When you grow up and can afford some decent audio equipment you'll kick yourself for having invested so much money in crappy audio quality. We should all be pushing for better than CD quality (DVD-A, SACD etc.) and rolling our own portable solutions.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
the market says you are wrong
I agree competition is a good thing, just like Apple getting a
larger market share among computers would be good for
consumers. Microsoft needs its feet held to the fire.

I have to disagree about iPod being overpriced. That is just not
true among the flash players in particular. Among the players
based on hard drives, the price differences are really not that
much. The iPod/iTunes package is very easy to use and is well-
integrated. That is worth paying more in my book. Besides,
prices are a matter of what markets will bear. The iPod may be
overpriced for you, but you are not the whole market. Clearly,
Apple is not having much problem selling iPods at current
prices. Therefore, they are not overpriced.

Apple has shown willingness to drop prices to preserve its
market position already, much to the dismay of Creative's CEO
as I recall, who actually complained that Apple's price drops
were "uncessessary."

Finally, you may want to engage your brain before calling people
who buy music online "lazy and short-sighted." Again, you
should not assume that your preferences are everybody's
preferences. I do not want to buy a whole CD when I just want a
song or two. Also, CDs take up space. I have shelves of them
and I don't really want more. There are times, however, when I
will buy a CD to get the higher-quality recording, but it just
doesn't matter for much of the music I buy. It sounds fine when
streamed to my decent stereo system over Airport Express.
Posted by Thrudheim (306 comments )
Link Flag
Low-quality?
Lossless is higher quality than a lot of the encoders rip CD music into. There's no way you cna even say it's a worse quality.

And 399.00 for a Zen is less expensive than an Ipod? For the same price you can get a 60 gig iPod, with more battery life and better support (where's the Creative Zen Bar in the nearest mall when you need one?) For 329 at your apple store you can get what's left of the 30 Gigs. Not a bad deal.

Sure, it's great for competition, but you forget, that Apple has Patented video on the iPod recently, and drive makers have announced before that they would be selling 80 Gig HD's to Apple this year. I can guarentee by x-mas they'll be on the market. And they'll probably support multiple video formats (except that shoddy WMV technology that's pure crapola).

PSP has not killed the iPod. Zen hasn't. I think it'll be dominanat for years to come. We'll see.
Posted by (461 comments )
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