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.
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.
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.
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.
[Zii Egg via Engadget]
Creative has been quiet since the release of the less than well received Zen X-Fi. At CES 2009 Creative only showed signs of a new player in the form of a bunch of reference demos of their upcoming Zii chip. Here is a good overview of the Zii at CES 2009 if you missed it. This chip promises HD video playback at minimum power usage.
The Zii EGG (model NSC-FL02) looks like it will be the first player to use the Zii chip. Pulling the info from the FCC’s site and digging though the documents what we do know about this player so far is that it will have an “HD camera” (Thought we don’t know if this is 720 or 1080- likely the former), Bluetooth, touch screen, and Wi-Fi (802.11 B/g). Only speculating based on the FCC diagram, it looks like it could also have an SD card slot.
A few years ago Creative tried to pull something like this off after the launch of the Zen Vision:M but could not technically pull it off- technologies were just not mature enough. With the Zii coming to fruition it looks like they will be able to do some pretty cool things with the Zii EGG. Based on product cycles and a few surveys I have received from Creative recently I would guess that this device is right around the corner shipping before the holiday shopping season around the same time as the Zune HD.
[FCC via Engadget]