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Old 11-13-2007, 10:51 PM   #1
Registered: Nov 2004
Posts: 40

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Creative Zen for Video Podcasts on linux? Or What's your PMP?

Foreword:I've found a few other threads on the Creative Zen line with linux, but they are older threads, don't address the new "Zen" player, and don't address my specific questions related to podcast and video podcast playback.

I'm getting ready to buy my first personal media player. I've had several mp3 players that I've been unhappy with to varying degrees, and am ready to splurge a little and get a decent media player. A few days ago my wife brought a 5G 30GB video iPod for me to play with in the mean time. I love some of the features, but hesitate to buy an iPod for myself due to Apple's continued and ongoing efforts to squash any compatibility with third party applications.

I'm seriously considering the Creative Zen. It doesn't have the capacity I'm looking for, but it's expandable. I've done a bit of online research, but I would like some feedback from people who own it or similar players.

Here are my must haves in a player.
  • resumable playback: I listen to podcasts that sometimes last over an hour. The player has to be able to keep track of where I left off in any given episode so that I can go back and resume where I left off without fast forwarding through 30 minutes of material I've already heard.
  • Hold Button: I use this thing on the go, so I'd like to avoid accidental button bumping.
  • video podcast playback: I need a simple way to get standard video podcasts on to this player without jumping through a lot of hoops for every video episode I download.
  • Linux compatibility: I use Ubuntu exclusively, so this thing will have to play nicely with third party apps for video, audio, music, photos, etc.
  • Playlist management: the iPod has turned me on to managing my music with playlists. It would be difficult and frustrating to do without.
  • Tactile controls: I use this on the go. When I'm listening to audio podcasts or music, I don't always have the luxury of staring at my player while I navigate, change volume, etc.
  • Around or under $250 U.S.

There are a few other features that would also be nice, but not necessary.
  • on board file management: the ability to delete files right on the player
  • track rating system
  • Photo display
  • Audio Book playback
  • Simple movie conversion/playback for watching DVDs, home movies, you tube stuff, etc.

I'm still not sure if I'd prefer a flash or hard drive based player. They both have their selling points. I suppose I'd be more inclined to trade battery life for greater storage capacity. A flash based player of at least 8GB might be acceptable if the memory is expandable or the price is right.

My specific questions for PMP users out there ...
  1. What player do you use?
  2. How well does your player work with linux?
  3. How (speficically) do you get video on to your player
    from DVD, Podcasts, YouTube?
  4. Knowing what you know now about your player, would you buy it again, and if not, what would you buy and why?
Old 11-13-2007, 11:33 PM   #2
Registered: Nov 2004
Posts: 40

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Any thoughts on the Sony NW-A800 line of players? They look tempting as well.
Old 11-16-2007, 01:58 AM   #3
Registered: Nov 2004
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Does anyone have experience using the Cowan A2 or D2-08 with video podcasts? I'm wondering if conversion is necessary and if so, how difficult is the transcoding, and have you found a way to automate it?
Old 11-16-2007, 04:12 AM   #4
Registered: Feb 2006
Distribution: Fedora
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I had a tiny creative Zen V plus sometime back, and it was pretty neat. I couldn't get it to work with my Linux box then (probably because I was pretty much a noob those days), but I don't think you should have any problems the way Amarok is these days. Regarding your other questions:
* resumable playback: No, but maybe the new Zen does this.
* Hold Button: Yes.
* video podcast playback: Yes.
* Playlist management: Dunno, mine's always set to shuffle.
* Tactile controls: Yes, the menus are fairly easy, separate buttons for volume control, etc..
* Around or under $250 U.S: Yes, I guess.

* on board file management: Yes, IIRC.
* track rating system: No.
* Photo display: Yes.
* Audio Book playback: Dunno.
* Simple movie conversion/playback for watching DVDs, home movies, you tube stuff, etc: My V Plus required a specific software I think, to do the video coversion.
I haven't tried Archos and the rest, these days I'm just using my PSP for music (its okay with music but is great as an all-round PMP, even without homebrew).
P.S. Just remember all this is for the V Plus, the new one seems to have quiet a few new good stuff. I'd personally recommend it over an iPod.
P.P.S. The joystick on my Creative broke pretty soon Its a good thing the new model removed it completely.
Old 11-28-2007, 01:07 AM   #5
Registered: Nov 2004
Posts: 40

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Thanks for the detailed feedback.


In the end, I just couldn't get over the convenience of the iPod. I've been working on my car for the past few days and discovered that I can navigate the ipod in my pocket through the fabric without even looking at it! I'll admit it's a little awkward when I'm adjusting the volume with the iPod in the chest pocket of my jacket. It looks a little like I'm playing with my nipples. lol

An hour and $180 later and I should have a 5G black 60GB iPod Video in my hands by Thursday.

I've also checked out Rockbox and plan to dual boot. I'd probably go solid RB, but the lack of adequate video support will require me to occasionally boot to the OEM firmware.

If I'd been using one of the other mentioned players for the past week (loner), I'd probably be more favorable to them. I'm always a little hesitant to blow a fist full of cash on something I've not handled.

The abundance of accessories and hack sites was also a factor in my decision. For better or worse, the iPod has the momentum. Now I'm just one more surfer on that cultural wave.


linux, mp3player, video player

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