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Creative announces Zen Vision:M

Move over, fifth-generation iPod

Today Creative unveiled a prospective rival to the new, video-capable iPod that offers twice the battery life and higher-resolution support than Apple's latest baby.

Available in a range of colours, the 30GB Zen Vision:M digital media player supports a number of video, audio and image formats. Removing the time-consuming process of transcoding video into a compatible format, the Vision:M provides out-of-the-box support for Mpeg1, 2 and 4; WMV 9; Divx 4 and 5; and Xvid.

The 2.5in display supports a whopping 262,144 colours, compared with 65,000 on the iPod. The display matches the 320x240 resolution of the iPod, but hook the Vision:M up to an external display and it'll output at 640x480. It's also capable of scaling 720x576 PAL TV without the need for conversion.

In addition to synching with Windows Media Center Edition PCs, the Vision:M is also compatible with video services from 7Digital, CinemaNow and the BBC's iMP player (when it launches), allowing you to download BBC TV up to a week after broadcast and transfer it to a Vision:M to watch on the move.

In terms of photo support, the Vision:M can display pictures up to 8Mp resolution, either scaling the image for the display or providing a scrollable window to view the image at its native resolution.

Audio support is as you'd expect, with an FM tuner thrown in for good measure. There's also a built-in microphone and MP3 encoder that can record either voice or radio broadcasts.

The Vision:M has a recommended price of $350 (about £200), making it slightly more expensive than Apple's offering – although it does come with an AC adapter and various other features the iPod lacks. UK pricing is yet to be announced, but is likely to be in the £200-to-£250 range.

Interestingly the Vision:M also supports hidden password-protected folders. What sort of content one would want to store in such a folder on a video-capable device is anyone's guess.

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