In order for video to play correctly on the Zen Vision W, it must be properly formatted. The Zen Vision W supports the following video formats:
The Vision W can resize your video if it’s too large to natively fit on the screen, but you’ll get better results if the video has been encoded at 480 x 272 for widescreen formats.
Generally speaking, you’ll get the best result and the highest compression from DivX and MPEG-4, though the wide range of supported formats makes the Zen Vision W a fairly dependable player regardless of the video source. In my experimentation, only one video file transferred to the Vision W would not play. The file was a DivX 4.x file, and though it did playback correctly on my PC, the Vision W reported an error and failed to play the file. The other 30 (give or take) videos I transferred played back perfectly.
There are several ways of getting video files onto the Zen Vision W. The first, and possibly easiest, way is the drag-and-drop method. Luckily, the Vision W doesn’t require that you sync files in order for them to appear in the menu; you can simply copy files into their appropriate folders in Windows Explorer. You can also use Windows Media player to move files to the W.
If neither of these methods suit you, Creative has provided a software application called Media Explorer, which allows you to manage the files stored on the W. With Media Explorer, you can browse the contents of the Zen Vision W, create and manage playlists, rip audio CDs directly to the player, browse documents and organizer data.
Unless you have a large library of existing video files, you’ll need a way to get video for viewing on the Creative Zen Vision W. There are numerous places online from which you can download video, but if you want to legally download movies or TV shows, you’ll need a compatible download service.
Amazon and Wal-Mart have new video download services, each offering movies and TV shows compatible with the Zen Vision. Amazon’s Unbox offers a bit more user-friendly interface, but either service works well with the Vision W. I tried each, transferring movies and TV shows to the W without a hitch. CinemaNow.com is another video download service, but only offers movie downloads. The upside to CinemaNow.com is that it offers movie rentals in addition to movie purchases. Rentals are DRMed video files which expire after a specific period of time, and are far more affordable than purchasing a movie.
Another potential source of video is your TiVo. If you own a TiVo and have it connected to your home network, you can transfer video to your Windows PC with TiVo2Go, then transfer them to the W. Of course, Windows Media Center recorded videos are also compatible after running them though the Creative Video Converter.
DVD to Zen Vision W
If you own DVD movies that you wish to copy to the Zen Vision W, you’ll have to use third-party software. Creative’s software suite doesn’t rip DVD movies, but there are excellent third-party applications which do just that (and work much better than ANY of Creative’s included software). Take a look at DVDFab Platinum for an easy, straightforward solution.
I transferred three DVD movies to the W using DVDFab, and each transferred and played back without a single glitch. My Flags of Our Father’s DVD transcoded in about 30 minutes (Core 2 Duo system with 2GB of DDR2 RAM), transferred to the player via USB 2.0 in a little over 1 minute and looked fantastic on the player. I transcoded the video in MPEG-4. A 6GB MPEG-2 (DVD) movie was compressed to a 760MB video file.
Zen Vision W Video Output
Even the W’s 4-inch display can wear on the eyes after a while. Luckily, the unit has an A/V out port with an included cable so that you can view video on any TV with standard composite inputs. The A/V out port only supports 4:3 screens, so you can’t watch a 16:9 video on a 16:9 television without using zoom. Videos in 16:9 appear within a letterbox in a 4:3 square.
Unlike other players like Apple’s iPod, the A/V output is not limited to videos; when connected to an external device, the menus, images, etc. all appear on the external screen.
Part 4: Software >>>