August 22nd, 2001 - I've decided to give these old pages a new home. The content is old, but perhaps it is still useful.
NOTICE! I no longer have a Z-Player. I will keep this page around for awhile longer, but I am looking for someone who might want to take it over. Please let me know if you would be interested. Thanks!
This page is being setup as a resource for users of the Zenith Z-Player PCMCIA CD-ROM/Soundcard combination. The unit offers a portable multimedia solution. Apparently, Zenith discontinued this unit sometime in 1997.About the Z-Player
The Z-Player is an external unit with two built in stereo speakers, 16-bit sound card, and double speed CD-ROM (MPC1 compliant). It connects to a laptop via a DB25 connector. A cable connects there and goes direct to a PCMCIA Type II card, or as an option Zenith sells a PC card that lets you plug the unit up to a desktop.
There are 1/8" stereo line in, line out, and headphone jacks as well as a volume control. There is also a built in microphone. Unfortunately, there is no way to attach an external mic (without using a line level mixer like the one Radio Shack sells for about $35).
Front panel controls include an LCD readout, repeat, random, rewind, stop, play/pause, and fast forward. You can play normal audio CDs and skip from track to track, but there is no way to shuffle-scan CDs from the buttons.About the Software
Drivers are provided for Windows 3.1 which let you record and play digital sounds, and also play FM music (MIDI files). A bundle of extra software (audio recorder, talking clock and calculator, hourly chimes) is also included - but anything designed to work with Windows sound should work. No support is provided for getting sound through DOS, though the CD-ROM works fine. Since PCMCIA cards lack DMA, digital audio is out of the question, however I have found that many games I have tried actually do play FM Music if you can run them from a Windows DOS SHELL. Windows 95 drivers are also available from the ZDS website (Thanks, George, for tipping me to this!):http://support.zds.com/support/software/drivers.asp?pdrive
A special note about the Windows 3.x drivers disks: The unit comes with three disks, two labeled "1 of 2" and one labeled "2 of 2". At first it seems like a disk is missing. It's not mentioned in the manual, but the reason is that you have two primary install disks - one for the PCMCIA version and another containing the desktop PC card drivers. The second disk is just the supplied software and sample audio files. I have no details of how they ship the Windows 95 drivers, though an online review I found mentioned a lack of documentation for installing them. (Actually, the archive you download is kinda sketchy too and Windows keeps "detecting" new hardware several times until it finally works. It appears several drivers are installed including one for the CD-ROM, one for Audio, and one for Windows Sound System emulation...?)Windows 95 Details
The 1.0 release of Zenith's drivers seem to work - almost (FM audio, MIDI, WAV files). I have found problems playing larger WAV files. The sound seems to "stutter", and has even made a CD-ROM game of mine unplayable (Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail). By setting Windows 95 CD-ROM properties to "no read ahead" (rather than 1x or 2x) it improved the situation some, but the problem still exists. Anyone with solutions please send me e-mail. As of this writing, I have completely given up on using the Z-Player for audio, and instead purchased an excellent WAVJammer PCMCIA sound card which even works in DOS.
Some Z-Player Links
Note that the ZDS site has (had?) pages containing installation notes, pictures, specifications, and frequently asked questions. I received the following response when I asked what they still had for the Z-Player:
Here is a list of Z-Player items available on our site: Z-Player Documentation: ftp://supportftp.zds.com/pub/techdoc/techdocs/portables/zplayer Windows 3.x drivers: ZP30_W3X.EXE at http://support.zds.com/support/software/portables/pdrive.asp Windows 95 drivers: ZPLAYR10.EXE at http://support.zds.com/support/software/portables/pdrive.asp Note: Occasionally, we have difficulty with DNS resolution so here are the IPs. supportftp.zds.com 188.8.131.52 support.zds.com 184.108.40.206 For further technical questions please use one of the following email addresses: For notebooks: firstname.lastname@example.org For desktops: email@example.com For sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can reach our 24 hour technical support line at 1-800-CARE-360 (1-800-227-3360). Thank you for choosing Zenith Data Systems. Alex (Representative 5830) Zenith Data Systems Support