Since I left my iPod on the train back in January (sigh) I've been without my music collection on the road, and it really started to bug me. I need to be able to tune in the Sugar Hill Gang, Brian Vander Ark, and sometimes even Harm's Way (an Ann Arbor band that Kid Rock worked with back in 1994).
But I've been doing the portable mp3 thing since 1999 when I bought something called an "I-Jam" portable CD player that played mp3s from CD-R. High tech back then.
Portable video seemed to be kind of cool, and since I'm a big fan of the Rhapsody Music Service (I hate iTunes), I decided to pick something that was fully compatible with that service. After looking through their list of supported hardware, I settled on the $399 Creative Zen Vision. The newer Zen Vision M has a more iPod like look and feel to it, the same amount of storage, and it is a hundred dollars cheaper at $299, but I like the original Zen Vision because of the larger screen.
Anyway, of course I didn't want to pay $399 so I headed over to ebay, and found a brand new "Buy It Now" item for only $295. All the others were listed at $399 or very close to it. Why? This item was new, sealed in the box. Why was it so cheap? Oh there it is - the seller said "No returns". Curious. Well, if it's new and sealed in the original packaging, shouldn't be a problem. But just in case I put it on my American Express card for the extra protection.
The Zen Vision arrived yesterday, and I promptly opened up the package and plugged it into the wall to charge up the battery while I installed the software. The manual recommended a 2 hour charge before using it the first time so I waited, and then turned it on.
I LIKE IT!
The physical interface isn't quite as cool as that neat little touch thing that the iPod uses, but it's way better than my old Dell Digital Jukebox. I found the controls easy to use, the screen is beautiful and easy to read, and the layout of the software running on it is very similar to the iPod software, so it was easy for me to use right away.
I started up Rhapsody and transferred the majority of my MP3 collection over to it (about 2700 songs, not including all the smooth jazz crap my wife has ripped from HER cd collection). Nice easy interface, that's for sure.
I'm planning to toy with some video next. I just signed up for the free, basic membership to MSN Video Downloads, which I'm not sure if it'll work with the Zen Vision or not, but we'll see. I'd rip some DVDs with the kind of information you can find at doom9.org, but of course circumventing DVD encryption is illegal and I would never do that.