The portable music world has long had the iPod as its poster boy, but media centres have had no such public face. Could the Creative Zen Vision change this with its sleek black exterior, silver border and large widescreen display? Probably, since it takes the Archos AV700 and pours paraffin all over it, lights a match and laughs maniacally as its plastic exterior melts into mush.
The Creative is aimed squarely at the novice thanks to Windows Media Player integration -- simply plug the device into a PC and it will synchronise your media automatically. The downside is that without a hard-drive mode, the device is completely incompatible with a Mac -- sticking one middle finger straight up at those smarmy, better-than-thou, swaggering Apple cocks-about-town.
Also unlike the Archos range, the Zen won't record from TV, so you'll need to, ahem, 'acquire' some DivX movies online. Having said that, it will output to a TV, so you can watch your favourite movies when you get to your hotel room. But the 30GB hard drive won't hold much once you start transferring all your music and video, which makes the £370 price tag look ridiculous.
So is the Zen the equivalent of a Calvin Klein model, with great looks but nothing to hold your interest underneath? You'll have to wait for the full review next week to find out. -GC
Update: a full review of the Creative Zen Vision is now live.