While Microsoft's Zune MP3 player remained a mere promise yesterday, Creative Technology delivered to market a competing device crafted with movie viewing in mind.
Creative's freshly unveiled Zen Vision W player is a hand-held device featuring an 11cm screen and software to link with the Unbox online digital movie sales and rental service launched by online retailer Amazon earlier this month.
Unbox offers television shows and films from more than 30 networks and studios including Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Fox.
The shows could be downloaded to PCs or specially formatted MP3 players such as Vision W, according to the Milpitas, California-based Creative.
"We designed the Creative Zen Vision W to work easily with major video download services," Creative chief executive Sim Wong Hoo said.
Then they added a wide screen "so movies and TV would look awesome," he added.
The Vision W was available with 30 gigabytes or 60 gigabytes of memory capacity. The device's rechargeable battery provided energy for as long as 4.5 hours of video playback, according to Creative.
The Vision W was also described as able to hold vast troves of music and "tens of thousands" of photographs loaded directly from digital cameras.
The players include a built-in microphone, alarm clocks, an FM radio and calendars that synch to Microsoft Outlook, according to the company.
Playing only music would stretch battery life for the devices to 14 hours, according to Creative.
The Vision W was compatible with online music subscription services such as Yahoo Music Unlimited, Napster To Go, Urge and MSN Music.
The 30-gigabyte Vision W was priced at US$299.99 and according to Creative Technology, can hold up to 120 hours of video. The 60-gigabyte model was priced at US$399.99 and Creative claims it can store twice as much digitized video.
The players were available at a series of online stores, including Amazon.com and the Web site of the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer, Wal-Mart, according to Creative.
Vision W enters the market as direct competition for the Zune brand MP3 player to be launched this fall by Creative's former partner Microsoft.
Microsoft unveiled its Zune player and store on Sept. 14 and promised to have them available by the year-end holiday shopping season to compete with Apple Computers iTunes online store and iPod MP3 player line.
Industry analysts quickly concluded that Zune posed little threat to the iPod, which commands more than 75 percent of the worldwide market.