Creative has just given us the heads-up on its latest Zen portable media player. It's a 'credit-card sized' marvel that, according to the press release is both a 'landmark' and a 'revolutionary' step for the company. We're not fluent in PR-speak, but we reckon that means it's hella good.
Why so bullish? Because it's the first Creative player ever to support AAC-encoded music. Creative boasts it'll play DRM-free tracks downloaded from iTunes Plus, which is great news if you're an iTunes lover that dislikes the iPod. The full list of supported audio formats reads: MP3, WMA and M4A (AAC). It also has a built-in FM tuner and voice recorder.
We wouldn't agree with the new Zen being credit-card sized, but it's pretty damn small. It measures 83x55x12mm, which truth be told, is about the size of 12 credit cards stacked on top of each other. It's not something you'd want to stash in your wallet (that would be stupid) but it comes with 'to do' and calendar software and can synchronise with Microsoft Outlook.
The Zen has a 64mm (2.5-inch), 320x240-pixel screen, which is the same as the iPod's, except it apparently shows 16.7 million colours. The iPod's screen shows 'just' 65,000 colours. It also one-ups Apple's portable with its video support -- it'll run WMV, DivX and Xvid movies, which is great news for Limewire fanatics.
It comes in 4GB (£99), 8GB (£139) and 16GB (tbc) sizes, all of which have an SD/SDHC card slot for memory expansion. Creative claims 5 hours of video playback or 25 hours of music from the built-in rechargeable battery.
There's also a full 'ecosystem' (you've gotta love PR-speak) of what we're calling Zencessories, including leather and clear cases, an armband, skin packs, a screen protector and worldwide power adaptors, all of which provide an excuse to part with even more cash.
We like the sound of it, and you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be fondling one over the next couple of days. Watch for a full hands-on in the coming moments. -Rory Reid