First Use, Charging, and other Charging Issues
First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on your decision to buy a Zen Vision:M (ZVM for short), and also to welcome you to this forum! I think you'll find that, once you've learned all the ins and outs of your new player, you will come to realize why so many of us believe that the ZVM is truly superior to the iPod in so many ways!
What follows here is a list of questions that get asked a lot around here. I have decided to compile them together into this one thread in order to make it easier for new visitors to this forum to find answers to their questions without having to dig through the entire forum. So, without any further ado...
First use and Charging
Q: What is the first thing I should do when I get my new ZVM?
A: Well, first of all, you should look over your owner's manual. The ZVM is a fairly straight-forward, easy-to-use device, but the owner's manual will help you understand most of the features the ZVM has to offer. Second, you should charge your player, and allow it to fully charge before using it.
Note: Even though the temptation to do so may be very strong, you should avoid powering up your new ZVM until you know for sure that your computer will immediately recognize your player when you plug it in! The reason for this is, your player may have sat in a warehouse for quite a while and the small charge stored in the battery may have drained off somewhat. The most common issue with new ZVM's is that they aren't recognized by the computer when plugged in because there isn't enough battery power to turn the thing on long enough for the computer to recognize it.
Q: Should I charge the ZVM first, or install the software first?
A: It depends on several things. If you're one of the lucky ones who got an AC wall charger with your new ZVM (or you already have one that is compatible), then you can start charging your player right after you unbox it. If you don't have a wall charger, then keep reading:
If you are running Windows Vista, then your computer is already ready to recognize your ZVM. With the player turned off, plug it into your computer's USB port. Your player will turn on, and Vista will enable full power to your USB port and install the necessary drivers automatically.
If you are running Windows XP, then you should make sure it has been updated to Service Pack 2 and is completely up to date. I also recommend installing Windows Media Player 11 from Windows Update. WMP11 comes with an updated MTP driver that will enable your computer to instantly recognize your ZVM. If you choose not to update Windows and WMP, then you should install Creative's software prior to plugging in your player.
Q: How do I charge my ZVM?
A: There are two ways you can charge your ZVM. Using the dongle (the small, white adapter that plugs into the bottom of your player), you can either use the Creative AC wall adapter (if your player came with one), or you can use the supplied USB cable to plug it into a powered USB port on your computer.
Please note: You should NEVER use a USB "Y" adapter cable! These are cables that have the mini-USB connector on one end, and splits off, having a standard USB connector on one side of the split, and a place to plug in an AC adapter on the other side of the split. Using such a cable with an AC adapter will send too much power through your ZVM's USB port and will fry your ZVM! Creative recommends against using third-party cables and adapters with your ZVM, so damaging your device with one of these cables will likely void your warranty!
Q: My ZVM didn't come with an AC wall charger. Where can I get one?
A: You can order an AC wall charger from Creative. Be sure it is specifically labeled for the ZVM. As an alternative, you can get a generic wall charger from just about anywhere. If you decide to get one, be sure it meets the following criteria:
Q: What would happen if I plug an AC wall adapter into my ZVM while it is plugged into a computer?
A: As long as you are using the supplied dongle, are plugged into a computer through the dongle's USB connector, and are plugged into the AC adapter through the dongle's power input, you will be fine. The dongle is designed to prevent the higher current from the wall charger from going through the USB circuits and frying your player.
Q: Can I use a third-party USB wall charger?
A: No. Although some people report having successfully charged a ZVM with one of these things, this isn't usually the case. The ZVM's USB port is designed only to handle a small amount of power - what is typically provided by a computer's USB port. Using anything other than a true USB port could potentially apply too much power to your ZVM's USB port and damage your player.
Q: Okay, I've plugged in my ZVM to charge it, but nothing is happening. Is my player broken?
A: Probably not. Usually, when you plug in your player for charging, your player will turn on, display the Zen logo, then power down, displaying only the "Charging" icon in the top right corner of the screen. However, if the battery is severely depleted, the player won't have enough power to power up. However, the battery will still charge, and your player will power up when there is sufficient power in the battery to allow it. Depending on how depleted the battery was, this can take a couple of hours. As long as the blue light around the power switch is blinking, the player is charging.
Note: There are certain cases where a computer will only supply minimal current to its USB ports when it does not detect a device plugged in. In order to get the full 500mA from your USB port, the computer must first recognize your ZVM. If this is your first-time charge, and your computer has not yet recognized your player and installed the appropriate drivers, then you will have to allow at least 24 hours charge time, then power your ZVM up while still plugged into the USB port. This should allow your computer to detect the device, load the drivers, and allocate the full 500mA to the USB port.
Q: When I plug my player to my computer using USB to charge, nothing happens - not even a blinking blue light! Is my player defective?
Q: I tried charging using a DC wall adapter, but as soon as I plug in, my player turns on, and indicates the battery is fully charged. However, as soon as I unplug, the player immediately goes dead. What's wrong?
A: Both of these questions are related, hence the common answer. Special thanks to freddie for discovering this solution:
There is a major bug in Firmware version 1.40.xx related to battery charging, and it will exhibit this behavior if there is not enough battery power available for your device to power up. You will need to upgrade your firmware to fix this.
There is a catch, however - your player will not power up on USB power alone, which poses a problem for firmware updating. You must obtain a DC wall charger, plug it into the player via the dongle. This will allow the device to turn on. Then you must plug into your computer's USB port. Do not worry - having both a wall charger and USB cable plugged in at the same time will not harm your player or your computer. This will allow your ZVM to remain powered up so you can update the firmware.
Q: How long does it take for the ZVM to fully charge?
A: If this is your initial charge, or if the battery has been completely drained, it can twelve hours or so if using the AC wall adapter, and as much as 24 hours if charging by USB.
If you are re-charging your battery, it typically takes about 2-3 hours via AC wall adapter, and 6-10 hours via USB. Factors such as condition of the battery and ambient temperature can affect how long it takes. Also, if you are using your ZVM while it is charging, it will take significantly longer.
Q: Is it safe to leave my ZVM plugged in when the battery is fully charged?
A: This is a hotly-debated question within the mobile tech community. The reason for this is that lithium-based batteries are highly volatile and extremely sensitive to over-charging. In an overcharged lithium battery, the internal cells can overheat and over-pressurize, which can result in cell rupture, leaking liquid lithium and hydrogen gas. If the battery is hot enough, the lithium can actually ignite and kick off a very dangerous chain reaction!
For this reason, most modern devices designed to use lithium-based batteries contain circuitry designed to monitor the battery's charge state, and cut off charging power before the battery has a chance to overcharge. Additionally, batteries from reputable companies also contain protective circuitry of their own designed to completely disable the battery if an overcurrent condition exists (which can happen if the battery is allowed to drain below a certain point), or if it starts to overcharge, overheat, or over-pressurize).
Despite all the protection put in place, it is still remotely possible for something to go wrong anyways. If you remove charging power when it is not needed, then the chance of something going very wrong is reduced to nil. Although this advice is more applicable for laptop/notebook computers, it is still sage advice for any device using lithium-based batteries.
Q: That is really, really scary! What if my battery is fully charged and I want to sync it with my computer? What is the chance of Really Bad Things happening?
A: Very minimal. USB current is relatively low, and since the player cannot be turned off while docked, the player itself uses most of the power, which doesn't leave enough current left to overcharge the battery. However, when you are finished syncing, it is still advisable to unplug the player.
Q: I'm still scared! What are the chances of this happening?
A: The chances of this happening with the ZVM is very, very small. As long as you don't routinely leave it plugged into an external power source and don't physically abuse it, you have a greater chance of winning the lottery than for the ZVM's battery to blow up.
Q: Is it better to keep the ZVM's battery "topped off", or is it better to drain it as far as it can go before recharging?
A: Lithium-ion batteries do not have the "memory effect" that plagued the older Ni-Cd (nickel-cadmium) battery technology, so it is not necessary to completely discharge them each time. In fact, frequent full discharges can actually shorten a Li-ion battery's life.
With that said, it is sometimes necessary to run down a Li-ion battery as far as the device will allow and then completely recharge it. With frequent "topping off", the device's battery status indicator can become "uncalibrated". You'll see this as a significant reduction in how many hours your player can go before the battery dies. When you start to notice this, you should run the battery down to the point where the ZVM displays its "Battery Low" screen, turn the device off, then completely charge it. You may have to do this a couple of times. With typical use, you should only have to do this about once a month.
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