A couple of weeks ago my old an reliable MP3 player… disappeared.
I was planning to buy the same player again, when I discovered that for almost the same price (70€), Creative was selling a new Zen model which seemed to have all I wanted (and more): 2GB, audio, radio, video, photos, micro, rechargeable battery… and expandable memory with external cards. I doubted for about five seconds before buying it.
Since then I’ve been using it in a daily basis and all I have to say is that it’s a very good player. The audio/video quality is fine, the battery works, the radio tunes without difficulties, and the interface is intuitive. The accompanying software is simple and useful, thanks to it I’m rediscovering podcasts (specially vodcasts) .
It doesn’t work in GNU/Linux. Or to be more precise: I haven’t found a comfortable way of using it in GNU/Linux. Creative, shame on you! It’s not recognized as an external drive. I’ve also tried KZenExplorer and Gnomad2 and I’ve got many problems. I’ll check the Ubuntu bugs database, and I’ll manually update to the latest versions. Let’s keep the fingers crossed.
The player supports several audio and video formats, but I have my media in a myriad of formats. Therefore I needed a simple way of converting any audio/video file into a format supported by Zen. This is the way to do it (in GNU/Linux):
$ mencoder [input.*] -oac mp3lame -ovc xvid -xvidencopts bitrate=-1 -vf scale -zoom -xy 320 -o [output.avi]
[It will convert any MPlayer supported format into a XviD video, with MP3 quality audio (the bitrate is calculated automatically, and the video is scaled to the size of the Zen screen to save disk space). Of course, you need to have mencoder installed. Creative provides a small tool for doing the same in a graphical way, but it’s slower, gets a poorer compression rate, and doesn’t support as many format as MPlayer.]
You can see some results below. For example, a video downloaded from Youtube:
A long P2P video (originally DivX):
And a .mov video downloaded from the Apple website ;-)
They all play smoothly.
All in all, I cannot be more satisfied with this gadget, specially taking into account what it costs. If you’re thinking about buying a player, I strongly recommend you to have a look at it. Apple, you have to do it much better.
Update: gnomad2 2.8.12, in Ubuntu 8.04, is detecting the player!