I got an invite to check out the new beta software package called ZiiLife. It appears to take on Skype with VoIP taking center stage. In fact the first thing you are greeted with is an option to buy a 3 month beta plan package for $7.95 that includes 360 min of global talk time. This package also includes unlimited 1 to 1 (assuming that video conferencing would be extra) and 1GB of cloud storage. The other option is the free plan in which you can buy credits to call for as low as 2.1 cents per min, unlimited 1 to 1 video calls, and 200 MB of cloud storage.
Archive for Creative
I always look forward to Creative’s booth at CES since its usually pretty over the top. This year Creative’s showing was very weak, though its not something specific to Creative, it was the general story for many manufactures of all types of gadgets at CES 2010. We may be on our way out of this recession, but the device industry still has a bit of a hangover.
So this year there were not sections of air crafts, videos projected on walls of smoke, or even a booth full of Creative babes- just a few showing off the Vado HD camcorders.
There was however one little bit of tech interesting to the whole Zii EGG story- the ZiiSound D5 and D3. The latter being the one for the Zii EGG. This little sound dock is equipt with Bluetooth for any Bluetooth enable device but also contains a dock for the Zii EGG. I didn’t get a chance to hear it on the noisy show floor, but considering some of their other stuff it should be at least good. It should hit the stores sometime in the beginning of 2010.
Digging though old posts I came across a review I started but never finished dating back to 2006. The photos are even watermarked before we had a logo.
The Zen Vision W was basically a larger version of the Zen Vision:M. They both had a great looking screen and awesome playback of native video. The only difference besides the obvious was that the W had a compact flash memory expansion slot. Though it wasn’t much of an expansion slot since both your music libraries would not integrate with each other. Unfortunately, Creative continues this trend today up to the new X-fi2.
Below are the photos that were prepared for the review back in 2006. How retro…
Today Creative Zii Labs released the first Android firmware for the Creative Zii EGG based on Android version 1.6. The firmware is very beta and really only for the developers to start working on the OS for the Zii EGG. The basic Android applications are there but some things like the camera are still not working. Also, some elements of a phone are present such as 2G options and signal strength icon are still present, so Android still needs to be cleaned up and targeted to the specificly to the Zii EGG. Android marketplace was not available but I was able to download and install AndAppstore and successfully install applications from that app library.
Even though it is still very rough around the edges and far from a consumer ready device it is exciting to see progress. Still no word on when this device will launch for the consumer market, but don’t hold your breath since I would guess that date to be well into 2010 considering the current state of firmwares.
Below is a video demo of the Zii EGG Android in action.
For the developers, Creative released firmware version 92.02 for the Zii EGG. This update added support for media playback on the SD card, “3D close line effect” for browsing media in landscape mode, and a stretch effect when browsing lists. The close line effect shows off the 3D processing effects of the Zii processor. It’s neat but doesn’t really lend to the overall browsing experience.
The stretch effect is a different take on how a list reacts when you get to the end of it. For instance the Zune HD, Cowon S9, and Touch all push beyond the list then snap back when you scroll to the beginning or end of a list. With the Zii when you hit the end the fonts and list stretches then snaps back. It looks a bit goofy to be honest, but I’ll wait to make till a judgment once the OS is a bit more useable. Keep in mind, this firmware update is still very far from a consumer product.
Below is a video demo of the new firmware with sample videos and photos shot from the Zii EGG.
With the first demonstrations of the Zen X-Fi 2 the consensus was that the UI sucked. It looked slow, laggy, and downright unusable. Before its release to the US, the X-Fi 2 received version 1.00.10 firmware dramatically improving the responsiveness of the UI. Considering its priced well below the more premium touch based players it may be a pretty good contender, especially for the budget minded shopper. The only major hang up now is the lack of microSD integration. Though this hasn’t been fixed in the last three generations of Zens, so don’t hold your breath.
The X-Fi 2 will be shipping in the first week of October and is available for pre order on Amazon.
Looks like Creative has been busy cooking up some other players aside from the Zii EGG. The Zen X-Fi 2 is a touch screen second edition of their last Zen X-Fi. Models will come in 8/16/32GB and sell for $130/$180/$230. The press release doesn’t say when it will be available but says it will be available for pre order on Amazon shortly, so it seems it should be here in time for the holidays. Below is a list of features or you can see more at the X-Fi2 mini site.
Creative started shipping the dev edition of the Zii EGG. From a few hours of browsing though the OS is feels like it is a long way from the consumer market. In fact recently the SDK roadmap outlining the various functionality of the Zii EGG appeared on Engadget showing a few months ahead.
Below is a few photos of the video preview of the hardware and a quick and dirty look at the Plaszma OS. I stress this several times in the video that this is a developer edition so you cannot judge the OS yet- it is very rough.
The hardware is what you would expect from Creative and the Zii EGG has a build quality similar to the Zen X-Fi or Zen (Newer version)- it feels plastiy and toy like but is still well made and rugged. The only thing that really bothers me and i hope that this gets changed is the screen material.
I haven’t dug too far into it but it appears to be a similar screen to the Zen plastic with a plastic film on top with a really bad glare- definitely low end materials. The screen is a glass composite. I was wrong in that the plastic film is removable unlike the Zen.
As I dig into it more I will share more thoughts and videos. In the mean time check out the video and pics below and stop in our Creative Zii EGG forum for discussion.
Creative has selected Opera as the default browser for their Plaszma OS powering the upcoming Zii EGG. One of the reasons they have chosen Opera was for its “Web application” platform to make it easier for developers to jump right in. This is what Archos did with their last generation of devices such as the Archos 5. Honestly, the web applications for Opera in the Archos 5 were far from impressive; however, it could have been from the lack of developer interest.
Keep in mind that they are only talking about the Plaszma OS and that the Zii EGG is wide open to other OSes such as Android. Partners can still select whatever browser or OS they want and brand it accordingly.
We saw the Zii Egg pass though the FCC a few weeks ago and today Creative has unveiled the Zii Egg development platform. While the Zii EGG is a finished product it is not quite ready for the consumer market. Creative is banking on developers to build applications and entire user experiences out of the Zii EGG hardware though Android and their own Linux based OS dubbed Plaszma. One of the big differences being that the Plaszma OS takes advantage of the Zii chips cell architecture.
It will be interesting to see how other mp3 player manufactures respond to this with similar “phone like” platforms. Archos has been moving in that direction and Samsung might be too with the M1 or a non 3G version of an Omnia. It will be interesting to see who is going to follow this path. Will we see SanDisk get into the fray? Sony? Cowon? How much of an OS will the Zune HD be? These are definitely some exciting times for the portable media industry.
The device is extremely well equipped with everything a high end smart phone has minus the cellular connection: 3.5” 320×480 16m color screen, 10 point multi touch capacitance, 1080p output, HD camera, front facing VGA camera, 3-axis accelerometer, wi-fi, GPS, light sensor, full size SDHC slot.