The screen showing the date and time (screensaver view). The stylish new Creative Zen Stone Plus is an upgrade to the 1Gb Creative Zen Stone. The Plus features 2Gb of memory, an FM Radio, a small screen, a stopwatch, built in microphone etc. It's available in the same six colours.
Creative Zen Stone next to the Creative Zen Stone Plus (roughly actual size) - the Plus is slighter bigger (in length), and is much more feature packed, although it has a shorter play time of 9.5hours compared to the 10hours on the Stone.
Microphone, top controls (right is quick / shortcut menu, middle is on/off, and left is play/pause), blue LED, headphone jack.
Box contents, the headphones look better, and look like the ipod earphones, but sound worse than the ones that come with the Creative Zen Stone, and I find the Stone's earphones more comfortable. You get an ultra-short USB cable, the MP3 player, earphones, and a quick start guide. For software or documentation you have to go to www.creative.com/zenstoneplus/
The bottom features the USB port, and reset button.
The Good Life inspired volume control, normal playback mode view, Shortcuts.
Music, Options, FM Radio (supports 32 preset stations, and Autoscan).
Options lets you browse music (Shown in the middle, choosing from the available folders / albums), alter play mode (shuffle once / folder), equalizer, bass boost, delete. FM Radio tuned to Radio City.
Microphone, Recordings, Stopwatch. There is also "Lock" and "Cancel".
Settings lets you change orientation (flipping the screen so that it's upside-down), contrast, display timer (sets how long the track playback view mode is on), language, screensaver etc, most handy is the Information, it shows you version (1.01.03e), Total space (1879.4mb), Free Space and Track Count.
The player is very quick to switch the screen off, presumably to save power, however you have to press a button on the player to get the screen back, and then you can pause or play the music again, meaning it's not as responsive or as instant as the non-plus version. Update: You can alter the length of time the playback screen is shown (upto 30seconds), and you can set the screensaver to show for upto 30 seconds. However, there is no way to alter how long the menus are shown - they tend to stay on screen for 5 seconds then go back to playmode.
Overall / In Conclusion / And Finally... The screen is cool, it looks good, and I like being able to see which track / album I'm playing. I like being able to see what volume level the music is at. I also like being able to store more music than on the 1gb Stone. However, all these extra features and functions make it more complicated to use, and less easy, and less quick to use. On the Stone you could flick a switch and jump instantly to the next album (folder), on the Stone Plus, you press the middle menu button twice go right to options, click browse music, and then choose the album you want... is 5 button presses progress?
Overall the Stone Plus has the same great sound quality, same great size, does more and lets you see what you're doing with a cool blue screen, but it's a much more menu driven experience, and a much less intuitive tactile "touch" experience. It's a shame that it doesn't do the same basic things (like skipping albums, or switching on random) as well or as easily as the original Stone.
+ Great sound quality
+ Great price
+ Very small, stylish
+ Great screen, lets you see what you're playing
+ Charges through USB cable
+ "Cool" looking earphones
+ Easy transfer of music (appears as a removable drive)
- Menus go off too quickly
- Provided ear phones lack bass? / fall out easily
- Doesn't respond instantly (Stone was much better at this)
- FM Radio reception is poor (struggles to pickup Radio 1)
- Slow switch on time (around 8 seconds)
Get the Creative Zen Stone Plus for £49 from Amazon. (Includes VAT, Free Postage, and £15 off when you apply for an Amazon credit card!)
Another Creative Zen Stone Plus review here. Read about the Creative Zen Stone 1gb MP3 Player.