Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ceative XFi pocket media players

I bought Creative Zen XFi pocket media players for my youngest two this Christmas (8 gig ones for £80 from Amazon). I was thinking about the iPod Nano but for two boys who don't change what they listen to much, don't routinely download podcasts but do watch LOTS of video these have proved a better bet than iPods. Creative shtick is the quality of audio playback which seems superb (better than Joe, my eldest's Nano). They have their own software for managing the thing but you don't need to use it - you can just drag'n'drop onto the various directories and it all shows up where you'd expect. It has some neat PDA-type features (that passed the boys by!) but the real killer from my point of view is that it plays various video formats - typically MPEG-4 AVIs and Windows Media 9 format files. So - if you're used to handling DivX, Xvid etc then it's all good - you have to re-size in some cases but my workflow for off-air recordings is DV-MSR (off-air MPEG2 transport stream)->MPEG2 (MediaPortal does this at the end of a recording if you ask it to and it is instant)->AVI (via VirtualDub MPEG2 edition). Alternatively their tool (which makes WMVs) is pretty slick and can queue stuff up etc.

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