Two days with the Zen Micro

My sister got her Zen Micro on Monday, after Creative released the new firmware for the device to add MTP/PlaysForSure support that was it, I had to get it - technically speaking it's mine as I paid for it - she's not paying me back until January 2006.

Quick to charge up in about 3 hours, I installed the software, installed the latest firmware to update it for MTP support so I didn't need Creative's software, which was promptly removed, I'll let Microsoft handle the software thank you. Obviously this firmware is included in all of them leaving the factory today, so you won't need to install Creative's software initially to update the firmware. Once I'd updated the firmware using my machine, she went off and just plugged it into her laptop and away it went, easy as that.

Using it is a breeze, my sister has been ripping her CDs and syncing them over with WMP10 with no problems. You can also use it as a removable hard drive, just using Windows Explorer. Well it obviously has all the benefits of being a PlaysForSure device so I won't bother going into how needed this kind of stuff is (wake up Apple), not having to install any software to use the device, you just plug it into your Windows XP machine and away it goes, that's how things should be done.

Creative's Zen Micro

Yes she wanted a purple one. I have no idea why.

The device itself feels very nice in your hand it's all curved at the back, so it doesn't feel like it's going to cut into you like an iPod Mini. The touch interface works very well and the screen is nice and easy to read. Sound quality on the device is absolutely mint, couldn't tell the difference between what was being outputted from that and my computer (I was switching between the two sources on my amp). Included headphones are pretty good for in-ear headphones, it also comes with a AC charger (charging over USB will probably be preferred by many) a belt clip and lots of other stuff, the packaging is also very posh which adds to the overall quality feel of the device. Battery life not sure yet, we're still on it's initial charge we've probably used it for 4 may be 5 hours and it's still showing 2 out of 3 bars on it's LCD.

My overall rating... I won't say it's perfect as there's always something that could be improved (battery life 100 hour battery? That'll be the day, WMA lossless support, digital radio etc) but it's the best player on the market today, Creative totally nailed it with this one. Strongly recommended to people who need music on the go.

Xbox 2 media capabilities

Bill Gates speaking about the goals for the Xbox 2:

Broadening the market, having media capabilities that when there's a PC, we connect up to that. This whole story of the Windows Media Connect and how all the formats and rights management and that simple Media Center menu that's just got TV, photos, music right there--those are common elements we're bringing to all the home devices.

We didn't do Xbox just to do a video game; we did it to be part of our vision of the digital lifestyle, and with the next generation, we really get to go there. In the first generation, we had one simple goal, which was to establish credibility as a great video game platform. We've done that. Actually, the last few months in the United States, we outsold Sony with the PlayStation. So even though they have the biggest installed base, we are a very strong, credible No. 2 in that. As we go into this next generation, it's much broader.

Yes, great video gaming but videogaming for a broader set of people, more communications, more media, more connectivity. And at the same time, we move up to things like high-definition graphics and wireless that the chip breakthroughs allow us to get to.

So just for the games alone you'd go, wow, but the concept now of bringing in your music, your media, connecting to the PC, connecting Xbox Live to Messenger--that just makes it a very big deal.

Yes Windows Media Connect support on Xbox 2. Can you say killer feature? Have to wait and see how and to what extend it's going to be implemented but it's largely cleared up my problems with Xbox and lack of connectivity some of which I mentioned on my entry about Extender for Xbox post.

Bill blog

Bill Gates:

I've toyed with doing a blog myself, but I don't want to be one of those people who start and then don't finish it, and again I'm thinking maybe I could do one a month or one every six weeks--something like that.

Come on, you know you want to! But let's make sure it's a real blog, and not some snazzy monthly press release. Just make sure to include the opinions and view points expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the Microsoft Corporation or it's partners.

iTunes user sues Apple

The problem of iPod and iTunes only working together has been highlighted again, this time by legal action taken against Apple by an iTunes user. From the BBC:

A user of Apple's iTunes music service is suing the firm saying it is unfair he can only use an iPod to play songs.
He says Apple is breaking anti-competition laws in refusing to let other music players work with the site.

Apple, which opened its online store in 2003 after launching the iPod in 2001, uses technology to ensure each song bought only plays on the iPod.

Californian Thomas Slattery filed the suit in the US District Court in San Jose and is seeking damages.

"Apple has turned an open and interactive standard into an artifice that prevents consumers from using the portable hard drive digital music player of their choice," the lawsuit states.

From a legal point of view, I don't think it's a good one to bet on. Choice does exist in the market, just not on the Apple side. The Windows Media platform for example, he can use a range of stores like Napster, MSN Music and a range of devices, the Zen Micro and Rio Carbon for example, both of which to be frank are better then an iPod anyway. Of course this is no good for the music he has already purchased which is effectively useless. Something I've been warning people about for longer then I care to remember.

The user has plenty of choice - just avoid Apple.

Pure Apple fanboyism

MacCentral:

"The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2005 has yielded dozens of news items and product announcements. Microsoft's Bill Gates' keynote showed his vision of his company's products as the center of a "digital lifestyle" (echoing Apple CEO Steve Jobs' pitch from 2001)."

What the hell? Echoing Steve Jobs? Microsoft made their announcement of a "digital lifestyle" back in 2001, January the 6th at the CES during Bill Gates' keynote. When did Steve Jobs do his little speech on the "digital hub"? It was at MacWorld on January the 9th 2001.

Who's echoing who? It's a real shame the entire Apple community run on fiction.

Zen Micro update

The Creative Zen Micro has now got a new firmware release which updates them to support MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) this also includes PlaysForSure logo support. This all means you don't need to install any software, any drivers. Windows Media Player 10 will auto-detect the device and you'll be able to sync from there.

Creative's Zen Micro

The new firmware can be downloaded from Creative's download page.

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