Product Type: Creative MP3 players
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Small but powerful - Creative Zen Stone Plus
Creative Zen Stone Plus 2 GB
Member Name: vacuumgarden
Creative Zen Stone Plus 2 GB
Advantages: The Zen Stone Plus is a tiny player with a surprising amount of extras.
Disadvantages: Relatively short battery life, screen is small and can only display basic track information.
In this day and age, it's probably fair to say there's a lot of choice for someone looking for a portable music device. Since MP3's arrived on the scene in particular, the marketplace has been awash with many different electronics brands touting many different types of player for the consumer to choose from. In fact, if someone were to ask me what the best MP3 player on the market was, I doubt I would be able to give a definitive answer. There are simply so many machines available nowadays, with so many different features that the question becomes less about which one is the best in general, and more about which one is the best for your situation.
I have found the 2GB Creative Zen Stone Plus to be a reliable player that has suited my needs pretty well. Having previously owned a 40GB Zen Touch that had sadly been damaged after about two and a half years of use, I was on the lookout for a new machine. I had been impressed with the Zen Touch, and decided to stick with Creative. One reason for this was that I had never been that taken with Apple's iPod, and as a result I found the other manufacturer to be a reliable and considerably cheaper alternative.
Creative's Zen Stone Plus is tiny even by today's standards, and I really wasn't expecting the impressive amount of features squeezed into the device. It boasts a built-in FM radio tuner, a microphone and a stop watch, and although its minuscule monochromatic OLED screen is not as easy to read as larger models, it certainly does a good job of displaying the essential information. As an MP3 player it's pretty good too. The Stone Plus plays MP3s and WAV files, and the software provided is very easy to use. You can either transfer files through a program which seems to be modelled after Apple's iTunes interface, or you can choose to manually copy and paste music files onto the device through the desktop on Microsoft Windows.
The battery life, whilst not hugely impressive, lasts a respectable 9.5 hours. This does the job for most trips you're likely to make, but if you're anything like me you'll want to keep charging it on a daily basis. And you'll be doing this via USB connection rather than with a separate power adapter, which I found to be very handy. The sound quality is great too, although you may want to invest in a better set of headphones than those provided if you're a real audiophile.
Overall, I don't have a bad thing to say about the Zen Stone Plus. The features are well thought-out and superbly implemented, and you'll figure out how it works in no time. The only criticisms come from the limitations that are inevitable for a device this small. The battery life is not the greatest, and the screen is too small to display all the relevant information at once. But at the end of the day, this is a tiny MP3 player, and a real bargain for around £30. At that price, you can't expect perfection.
The Zen Stone Plus is an excellent little machine, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it - both to those buying their first MP3 player, and to those of you looking to trade in their bulky older models for something that you can put on your keyring. With the iPod, you're paying about a third of the price for the brand alone. Be smart - buy Creative.
Summary: The 2GB Zen Stone Plus is an excellent MP3 player for the price.
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