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Creative Zen Stone Plus
Ever wonder how companies sometimes manage to cram so many features into a small device? I do too. And here’s another for your amazement. If you thought the Zen Stone was a tiny powerhouse for music, you’ll love the Zen Stone Plus.
The design hasn’t undergone any significant change. It’s still as cute as a button and almost as small as one too; just a few millimeters larger in dimensions than its smaller sibling, the Zen Stone. At 21g it also weighs 2.5g more than the Zen Stone, and has a 64 x 64 pixel, blue OLED display. Another plus point is that the Plus is available with 2Gb of storage.
Instead of the slider on top to change folders etc. there’s now a shortcut key and Play/Pause key that doubles as the power switch. The reset node has been shifted to the bottom, next to the mini-USB port, and has been replaced with the microphone. The 3.5mm earphone socket, navigation keys and strap are still in the same place.
Features and Performance
As I said in the beginning, I don’t know how they did it but they did. The Zen Stone Plus is jam-packed with features, from an FM radio with great pickup and auto scanning with 32 presets (even while on the commute), a voice recorder, which is okay too. For some reason they’ve even thrown in a stopwatch and, thankfully, a button lock option, which was lacking in the Stone. Navigating the menus are also easy using the control keys.
What I liked most about this player is of course the size and the fact that there’s a customizable EQ and Bass Booster setting as well. That’s besides the presets already present. There are also options for idle shutdown and a screen saver, with the date and time in block letters on the whole screen which looks pretty cool. You can also flip the display if you prefer it that way and change the language, should you be in any other part of the world. When in China…
Now to the main event. The music player, I have to say, is quite as I expected. Great sound quality and loud enough to drown out the erratic horn blowers that plague our fair cities. Without the foam covers the earphones are a bit uncomfortable to wear and the sound quality lacks a little something. So don’t lose 'em. But the earphones even by themselves are really good if you want to use them on any other player you may have. The Stone Plus is compatible with MP3, WMA, Audible and WAV file formats.
Now for the bad part. The player is painfully slow. And maybe that’s an understatement. It takes forever to scroll through the menus and even longer if music is playing. Although Creative allows for simple copy-pasting of files into its directory and a File View option that shows you the folders available, it doesn’t allow you to see what songs are inside those folders. The moment you move the selector to a particular folder it immediately starts playing that folder.
In other words, response time on the Zen Stone Plus is just too slow. It doesn’t end there. Even if you’re copy-pasting files to and from the player it’s still just too darn slow.
The Bottom Line
The Zen Stone Plus is a great player as it is. Even the FM pickup is good. At a price of Rs. 5,000, it’s a great buy for a 2GB player, except for the fact that it’s super slow. It could be an issue with just this piece I got for review, and I really hope it is.
But the music quality is really good and with the presets and a customizable EQ option with Bass Boost, it can only get better. There’s also a range of six colors to choose from to suit your mood and fancy, so go out and get one!