Creative's Zen Vision W succeeds its Vision portable media player, gaining a W denoting its widescreen aspect. The epic 4.3in screen is fantastic, displaying both photos and video beautifully and in vivid detail.

The Creative Zen Vision W is attractive and sturdily constructed, packing the sort of weight that's reassuring but not burdensome. It's easily portable, taking up less room than the competing Archos 704 WiFi but, at 3.5 hours of video playback, the batteries don’t last as long as some other PMPs’. Unfortunately, the huge screen is bound to run them down far faster than the Apple iPod Video's, which is half the size.

Even so, the Creative Zen Vision W is a pleasure to use with just enough directional arrows and menu selectors. The generous proportions of the display mean there's only room for a handful of controls, but the ones that are provided seem plenty - testament to the sensible, intuitive setup. Top marks to Creative for including dedicated volume buttons, too.

Setting up slideshows and music playlists is a simple matter, as is transferring files to the Creative Zen Vision W via Windows Media Player. It accepts a decent range of image, audio and video formats. Photos look great on the crisp display, as do video clips.

The range of settings is impressive: a Smart Volume function keeps audio at approximately the same level, while it's possible to set a maximum volume and enforce this with a password - ideal for parents wanting to spare their darling’s hearing and the sanity of everyone around them. You can also password-protect content on the device.

You get an excellent run of 12-and-a-half hours of audio playback and the battery life can be prolonged by adjusting idle shutdown time and switching off the backlight. Numerous warnings are displayed when the battery is running low.

In case you don't fancy the bundled headphones, Creative has incorporated a small built-in speaker. It's a bit tinny, but does the job. Extras include a calendar, to-do list and contacts database, a microphone and FM radio.

Creative Zen Vision W: Specs

  • 4.3in 480x272 screen
  • supports AVI, WMV9, Mpeg1, Mpeg2, Mpeg4-SP, MJpeg, DivX 4.x/ 5.x, XviD-SP, MP3, WMA, WAV, Jpeg
  • removable rechargable Li-Ion battery
  • claimed audio playback 13hrs (actual 12.5hrs)
  • claimed video playback 4.5hrs (actual 3.5hrs)
  • signal-to-noise ratio up to 96dB
  • harmonic distortion output <0.1%
  • frequency response 20Hz - 20kHz
  • USB 2.0
  • Compact Flash
  • syncs with Microsoft Outlook Contacts, Calendar & Tasks
  • 134x22x75mm
  • 276g (with battery)
  • 4.3in 480x272 screen
  • supports AVI, WMV9, Mpeg1, Mpeg2, Mpeg4-SP, MJpeg, DivX 4.x/ 5.x, XviD-SP, MP3, WMA, WAV, Jpeg
  • removable rechargable Li-Ion battery
  • claimed audio playback 13hrs (actual 12.5hrs)
  • claimed video playback 4.5hrs (actual 3.5hrs)
  • signal-to-noise ratio up to 96dB
  • harmonic distortion output <0.1%
  • frequency response 20Hz - 20kHz
  • USB 2.0
  • Compact Flash
  • syncs with Microsoft Outlook Contacts, Calendar & Tasks
  • 134x22x75mm
  • 276g (with battery)

OUR VERDICT

Creative has made a great player of the Zen Vision W. While we love the widescreen LCD, it's quick to drain the battery. But providing you don't venture too far from the mains socket, the Creative Zen Vision W is an excellent choice.

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