When I was a kid the only entertainment we had on a long car journey was listening to story tapes on the car stereo, playing I spy and having fights with my brother on the back seat. How times have changed.
In the past thirty years the possibilities for travelling entertainment have gone from time-honoured to high-tech, kicked off by the appearance of the very first Walkman and crowned today with MP3 and personal media players (PMPs). Go out and spend a couple of hundred quid now and you can have widescreen entertainment in the back seat, watch your favourite TV, look at photos and listen to your favourite music all on the same device. Creative's Zen Vision W is aimed at letting you do all that – on one multifunctional device.
It's Creative's flagship media player – a sleek-looking widescreen PMP that is intended to ooze 'ooh' factor. It's not particularly slim but with a 4.3in screen in place and only a thumb-wide strip down the right of the screen dedicated to controls, it still manages to remain pocketable, measuring 134 x 75 x 22mm.
Around the edges you'll find a CompactFlash (CF) card slot good for type I and II cards, a mini-USB socket for file transfer and charging, a docking port for the optional cradle, an analogue AV out, DC input, headphone socket and further controls on the top edge for volume and on/off/hold.
But with so many smaller players now offering video playback, and Archos’ fifth generation players imminent, does the Zen do enough? On the face of it, it would certainly seem so. It has a widescreen, where the latest Archos players do not. And at a smidgen over £200 for the 30GB version, it seems to be pretty good value too.
It's extremely quick to transfer large files – I copied across a 922MB video file in less than two minutes over USB 2.0, which puts most smaller media players to shame. That CF slot means it has immense potential for expansion too. Connect a CF 5-in-one card reader, for instance, and you'll have off-board storage for most digital cameras.