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Creative TravelSound Zen Stone Loudspeakers
When I first saw Creative's Zen Stone I couldn't help but be impressed. Small, fun and cheap but without the cheap feel, it was a classy addition to MP3 market. As one might expect Creative has supported it with a number of accessories ranging from wrist bands and clips, to this set of dedicated travel speakers I'm looking at today.
Retailing for around £30 they're small, as you might expect, and are powered by two AAA batteries. Weighing 160g without batteries and 200g with batteries and the player inserted, these little beasties pump out a mere 0.2 Watts per channel from the two small drivers. I'm happy to admit that I approached them with some suspicion, could they possibly be anything more than utterly pointless? However, on the design front at least, Creative hasn't made too many mistakes.
Key is the integration with the player, which is handled very well. Space is free on the front of the set for the small player, with a 3.5mm jack protruding downwards with two rubberised contacts to help hold the player in place. There are no controls on the speaker bar itself, just an on/off switch; however, the controls on the player are easily accessed so there's no problem here.
There's also a total lack of any other inputs, so connecting anything other than a Zen Stone could prove difficult, though by no means impossible. Obviously, seeing as the set is designed with the Zen Stone specifically in mind this is again no great surprise, however an auxiliary input or cable adapter for using other players would be a nice option. After all, sometimes you want more than the one or 2GB provided by the Zen Stone and Zen Stone Plus when you're enjoying the outdoors.
These are, however, trifling observations and otherwise this is an attractive little set that can be carried or set down on the ground. There's a small flap that acts as a stand too, so you set them up easily on a flat surface and the design is contemporary and pleasant to look at. But do they sound any good?