updated 08:40 am EST, Tue December 1, 2009
Zii Trinity serves as reference Android phone
Creative entered the phone arena for the first time today by launching its Zii Trinity platform. Like the Zii Egg, the Trinity is a reference design rather than a full product and gives those building hardware or software a full-touchscreen Android (or Creative's own Plaszma) smartphone to work from. It supports quad-band GSM/EDGE as well as tri-band, 7.2Mbps 3G over HSPA but still carries the ZMS-05 chip that provides 1080p video decoding and hardware accelerated OpenGL ES 3D.
The example design has a 3.1-inch, 800x480 capacitive touchscreen with multi-touch support, a 5-megapixel camera on the back with a front VGA camera for video calls, GPS and Wi-Fi. Creative's own experience comes into play through the inclusion of X-Fi audio hardware, and a mini HDMI port gives the phone the ability to play 1080p at its native resolution on a TV.
Along with the device, Creative has also launched ZiiLife, a set of cross-platform services intended to be used in conjunction with Zii-based hardware. The services are highlighted by ZiiMeet, a video conferencing and remote video streaming system that works with Linux, Macs and Windows PCs as well as Zii devices. It also brings ZiiApps, a reference point for Zii-optimized titles like games; ZiiAcademy, a collaborative learning service that can support mixed-media 'books;' and ZiiVue, a content gateway for music and video.
So far, the platform is primarily attracting Chinese partners and doesn't have any named customers. Creative hasn't said what the cost will be for a Zii Trinity device or how soon developers can expect them to ship.
The release underscores Creative's efforts to escape from its previously MP3 player-only past, which contributed to a significant struggle as the company failed to get significant traction against the iPod or more closely-matched competitors like SanDisk's Sansa line. The company released a touchscreen player of its own this year, the ZEN X-Fi2, but comes to the arena about two years after Apple and hasn't produced any widely available devices based on its own Zii platform; it instead is counting on support from other companies, particularly those too small to develop components themselves.