thought i would post this in here too, given the number of personnel going on three weeks of PDT & concentration shortly -------------------------------------------------------- i'm going to post this in a couple of forums (QMs + Film, plus maybe the naafi), simply because i am so utterly impressed. a couple of weeks ago i was searching for a new toy for ops & exercises etc. looked at lots of reviews, and rather than going for a Hype-od, i decided on the 60GB Creative Zen Vision M. got it through and have been mega-impressed with it, so i thought i would share. you can rip your dvds onto it, music, photos... it's got an FM radio, voice recorder... a "shortcut" button which you can programme to carry out whatever function you like - voice recorder, play random music, etc etc. oh and if you have any "personal" videos or photos, you can hide and password protect entire folders i have only filled about 50GB so far. that includes: * about 75 DVDs. on default quality, they look good and take up between 300 - 700MB depending on length. * every episode of band of brothers, fawlty towers, game on, little britain, scrubs, the office, blackadder, drop the dead donkey (and soon men behaving badly & red dwarf) * about a thousand songs @128kbs * hundreds of photos * couple of hundred short video clips (ahem). obviously just of things like people falling off bikes and funny things like that. the official figures it gives are 240 hours of video, 15000 songs or tens of thousands of pictures. battery life is excellent - four to five hours on video on full volume. got nowhere near running battery down on music, its supposed to be 16 hours plus or something. as you can see from the pic, it's nice and compact. 2.5" screen and you don't get sore eyes or anything from watching it. viewing distance is 1 - 2 ft. you can watch in original widescreen, or let the player zoom to fill the screen. the thing that impressed me most was the quality of video image versus file size. even on default settings, it looks like DVD quality, just on a smaller screen (it's 320 x 240 pixels). when searching for problems, i've only ever noticed pixellation on very dark areas, and it doesn't affect viewing. if you want to have tip-top quality, a ripped DVD takes up about 2GB - but it's really not necessary in my opinion. if you want better quality you can convert your dvds at 640x480 (obviously takes up more space) and buy a composite out cable - which means you can output video, pics etc to your tv. or you can do what i do - dock it with your laptop and you can play them direct on there. you can also just use it as an external hard drive if you like. ripping films is dead easy and takes 20-40 mins, depending on the length of the film / how many episodes on disk. i use clonedvd mobile (with anydvd for regional protection issues etc) by http://www.slysoft.com/en/ i've been able to convert almost any format onto it - the only format the player has rejected is a couple of .rm files, and i don't understand why as it did some of them successfully. for file management etc, you're not tied to particular software like itunes - you can do it with windows explorer if you don't like the enclosed software. it has all sorts of stuff like graphic equaliser, "DJ" function copied from ipod (play rare tracks, play highly rated tracks, album of the day and loads more). you can set your favourite picture as wallpaper. you can also set up slideshows, and leave it on the bedside table as a living photo frame (if you've got eyes like a pilot ). here is a review: http://www.trustedreviews.com/multimedia/review/2006/02/02/Creative-Zen-Vision-M/p1 couple of inaccuracies: it says there is no 60GB version (came out since the review) and says there is a wall charger in the box. there isn't - just a laptop docking cable for charging et al. you can pick up a wall charger from i-nique for Â£10.99, fully charges in 2.5 hours. i also bought one of their silicone skins with hardened screen protection http://www.i-nique.com/showdetails.asp?id=886 - mainly to keep sand etc out. in summary, absolutely cracking bit of kit. cost? around Â£190 - amazon have it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000JP76TO/?tag=armrumser-21 no, i'm not selling them. it's just rare that i buy something and am so completely impressed with it!