Home / TVs & Audio / Portable Audio / Creative Zen Stone Plus

Creative Zen Stone Plus review

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

If you can't work out that Creative's latest micro-sized MP3 player is aimed at giving Apple's Shuffle a well-aimed kick up the rear end, you need glasses, because it's about as obvious as it gets.

In fact Creative seems to have taken a checklist of the Shuffle's specifications and gone through each feature in turn, making sure it improved on each and every one. The Zen Stone Plus is smaller and lighter than the Shuffle. About the size of a small pebble, and a similar shape, it'll fit and disappear into any pocket without you noticing it's there. It's so tiny and light you might risk missing it when putting shirts and trousers into the wash – so be careful.

At 2GB it has twice as much memory as the Shuffle – enough for around 500 MP3 tracks at 128kbit/sec. It has a microphone (the Shuffle doesn't), so you can use it as an impromptu dictaphone. It has a standard mini-USB connection, so you don't have to carry the daft little docking station around with you as you do with the Shuffle, and with the stubby USB cable that comes in the box, you can simply drag-and-drop music files to it, rather than being force to use proprietary software.

It has an FM tuner built in and even a stopwatch. And the Zen Stone Plus is also cheaper than its aluminium-clad rival too. Though the price typically comes in around 50 quid - the same ball park as Apple's diminutive clip-on player – you can get one for as little as £39.

But perhaps the most obvious improvement over the Shuffle is that it has a screen. Next to the d-pad control sits a tiny circular, blue and black monochrome OLED display, 19mm in diameter. It allows you to see what's playing, browse music and change settings while you're away from your PC. It's undoubtedly a better overall package, on paper, than the Shuffle, but does throwing extra features at such a simple concept actually make a better product?

Alas, not in the case of the screen. While it's good to know what track you're listening to, the screen doesn't actually add that much in terms of navigation and browsability. There are two main problems with it. First, the display only shows the track name, not the artist nor the album title.

But this pales into insignificance next to the second handicap, which is that you can't actually browse the music on the player freely while listening to music. Try switching albums in the music browser mode and the player instantly starts playing from the new folder. Try looking at what's coming up and it does the same thing. It makes you wonder why Creative bothered putting a screen on the thing in the first place.

Hameed

June 24, 2009, 3:14 pm

I have had a Stone for about 5 months and have found it a little flaky in terms of its user interface and the amount of times its needs to be reset. The sound quality is nowhere near as good as the Ipod Nano my kids have in the house, nor as reliable. Since Apple lifted the digital protection rights, it’s no contest by the Nano.





Moreover it broke and I have returned it to Creative within its warranty period, and the back up service is very inefficient and it’s taken over month of emails and still no return as yet.





Overall my impression is that the product is ok at best for its price but the support and back up is poor, spend a little more and get something better.

moochy minselfen

March 31, 2013, 12:09 pm

I disagree with some of your points here. I find that the screen gives a huge advantage over the Shuffle, and I find that I like the centre button and the D-Pad.
I however agree that it is a cheap option, and that the plastic just doesn't feel great.
Battery life also is a downside. I have to recharge mine all the time, and it loses charge even when it is turned off (it uses power to keep the time). You have to charge it through the computer, unless you have a USB power adaptor, like the ones that come with iPhones.
For a quick and easy way to listen to your songs without unnecessary hassle, the Zen Stone Plus is an option to consider.

comments powered by Disqus