The iPod wars are not over. Apple may have 60-percent to 80-percent of the portable music market, but Creative’s new Zen Vision M is loaded with features not available with any Apple iPod, including a higher res color screen and a much longer battery life for video playback. How does it compare to Apple’s iPod?
Zen Vision M compares very well to Apple’s new video capable iPods—if you take iTunes and iTunes Music Store, Mac and Windows out of the comparison charts.
However, side by side on a comparison of brochure data, the Zen Vision M looks good. Very good.
For example, it’s $30.00 more than a 30-gig iPod with video, but has four times the color screen resolution. Most critics seem to think iPods video playback is superb already.
The Zen has double the battery life for video playback, often a sore spot for all of iPods models when compared to the competition.
Creative also points out that the Zen line is Number One in market share of portable MP3 players that are used in conjunction with a subscription music service.
That’s a bit like the Number 47 radio station in a market claiming they’re Number One in country western music played in Ford F-150 pickups. But still…
Yahoo!‘s yet-to-be-proven popular Music Unlimited, a subscription service with access to nearly a million songs, claims to work with the Zen Vision M.
Here’s one of those interesting, lies, damned lies, and statistics items. Apple’s iPod has this 80-percent market share of downloadable music via iTunes Music Store.
Zen Vision M claims to work with the other 20-percent including Yahoo! Music Unlimited, Naptser To Go, Real’s Rhapsody To Go, MSN Music and AOL Music, but not with iTunes Music Store.
If there’s a contest for features, the iPod loses. Quickly. Zen Vision M comes with the ubiquitous (on everything except iPods) FM radio, including recording and 32 preset options.
The touch pad is not wholly unsimilar to the iPod’s famous clickwheel. Except it’s not a wheel. Otherwise, it appears intuitive and quick.
There’s also a built-in microphone with on screen controls and status. That’s the short list of features the iPod doesn’t have.
Then there’s that whole navigation system via menus which Creative says is their patent and Apple obviously is infringing.
So, on the surface, at first glance, it appears that the 30 gigabyte $329 Zen Vision M outranks the iPod with video on everything except iTunes and iTunes Music Store compatibility.
Reading the fine print is fun. Zen Vision M is nearly twice as thick as the new iPod, costs 10-perecent more, and does NOT work with the music video collection or TV show collection now available on the iTunes Music Store.
There’s an audio video out cable but it must be purchased separately. The unit comes with a USB 2.0 cable, earphones, a screen protective pouch (ouch, Apple), and an AC adapter.
Creative’s Zen Vision M does work with Microsoft Windows, but not the Mac.
About all that Creative’s latest offering has going for it is a huge feature list and a patent on the on-screen navigation.
Click Here for a look at the new Zen Vision M.
In a related development, Rob Glaser, CEO of RealNetworks, the company that creates the Rhapsody online music subscription service, says Apple’s CEO is ‘pigheaded.’
Glaser said that Jobs’ refusal to make the iPod compatible with other music services besides iTunes was an example of “pigheadedness” and would draw the wrath of consumers.
Carol Mary Miller
Sigh. Microsoft proved that many people will buy because of a feature list. Apple’s Mac still exists and prospers because some people still buy a product because they want it to work.
It’s still the ecosystem that makes the iPod such a joy to use. 70-percent of the features on my cell phone don’t get used because they’re too complicated. If it wasn’t for iSync, I wouldn’t even bother to enter much more than phone numbers. Apple’s iPod ‘system’ just works.
A little competition won’t hurt Apple or future iPods. However, if a portable ‘media player’ doesn’t have music videos, TV shows, movies, and a simple ‘it works’ system to pull all the pieces together, I’m not interested.
Tera Jean Patricks
“Pigheaded?” That’s just the kind of posturing and attitude that will certainly send Steve back to his office, quivering and shaking, and ready to cut a deal to open iTunes Music Store to other players, and open the iPod to other music services. Because Glaser wants a piece of the Apple pie, his name-calling and public badgering of Steve Jobs will turn the tide in his favor. Or not.