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Preview - Creative Zii EGG
By Seow Tein Hee
Category : Others
Published by Vijay Anand on Thursday, 30th July, 2009

Hatching a Plan

The Creative camp has been pretty tame over the past few months, but word was afoot that there will be something of interest coming along the lines of incorporating its Zii chip, developed by its subsidiary company, ZiiLABS. And just a few days back, the curtain was been raised on the Zii EGG handheld, its first device that's running on the Zii Plaszma open source platform and utilizing Creative's ZMS-05 chip.

The Zii EGG in our hands. For introductions, the name Zii, stems from Creative's Zen roots. In short, Zen II (Generation 2), when combined, gives you Zii.

The ZMS-05 chip. A small chip, which can be readily placed in combination with other supporting ICs with its general purpose I/O links to fit the OEM's design. This forms a stronger and more powerful ecosystem. Scalability is part of the deal in this "StemCell Computing" concept with the ZMS-05 chip.

Many of you might have found yourself familiar with what the Zii EGG has to offer, which includes HD video playback and 1080p video output. In fact, one might call the Zii EGG a smartphone that isn't a phone, seeing as how it equips itself with common features such as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and an accelerometer as part of it repertoire. This is on top of a potential 64GB storage capacity (32GB internal and optional 32GB external via memory cards) and Creative's X-Fi audio processing technology embedded within which makes the Zii EGG a device to watch out for.

The Zii EGG also comes with a 10-point multi-touch screen, though Creative has mentioned that this won't be available on the Android version, seeing as how Google has already officially mentioned that its mobile OS doesn't come with multi-touch support.

With the usual micro USB and 3.5mm audio jack, there's also a proprietary connector for the Zii EGG's 1080p video output.

An example of how the Zii EGG, once connected to a full HDTV, displays its HD video at the maximum 1080p resolution. Incidentally, the video shown to us was a 720p clip, but it was upscaled to the 1080p resolution as seen on the TV, by the Zii EGG.

However, the Zii EGG isn't targeted at the consumers per se. For now, Creative will be packaging this device solely for interested developers and its OEM partners who are looking to hop onboard the Zii and Plaszma ship. As of now, Ideaworks3D, one of the partners with Creative's ZiiLABS, has also announced the availability of its Airplay SDK to the Zii Plaszma platform and support for the Zii EGG handheld. This is the first step of many in the upcoming months, where more partners will be hoping on board to provide their support for the Plaszma OS. Nonetheless, Creative has seen fit to cater to another open source platform, namely Google's Android OS.

Developers can decide on their plan of action, be it under the Plaszma platform or the one year strong Google Android OS.

Interestingly, during the session with Creative, we did pose the rationale behind its 'Shanzai' Marketing Program. For those not in the know, the 'Shanzai' term that's well known in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, is a small group of developers and manufacturers which imitates and even enhances successful devices produced by the big players in the market. In short, this is often viewed as bootleg devices, yet the proliferation rate is exceedingly high over the past few years.

Creative has expressed the fact that the 'Shanzai' market is essentially a potential yet to be tapped, where cost efficiency and innovation could be a contributing factor to the development of devices. By creating the 'Shanzai' Marketing Program, Creative hopes to push forth a new wave of devices that is not only affordable, but also able to match up to the major players. For the select group of developers, this is an opportunity for them to obtain the necessary parts from just one single OEM and in turn push forth their own design and product.

Regarding its availability, Creative is currently taking pre-orders for the Zii EGG from developers and OEMs, and will be shipping the Zii EGG by the end of August 2009. The first shipment will run solely on the Plaszma platform, as there are still some kinks to iron out with the Android version. Once that is out of the way, developers can expect to receive an installer that allows their Zii EGG to be loaded with Google's Android OS, and as expected, switch between the initially available Plaszma platform for further development.

Even though the Plaszma OS is a more powerful OS and takes full advantage of the Zii chip, superior capabilities alone won't be enough for it to be the next big thing. Logical sense at the moment dictates those with the larger market share and ready applications have the largest potential to control and command the market. In this respect, it remains to be seen if the Plaszma OS would be favored over the Android OS from Google in the long term. For more information and hardware specs of the entire platform, you check the official information page for Zii over here .

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