Creative Zen Stone MP3 player

Creative have finally got around to launching a miniature MP3 player that is small enough to take on the Apple Shuffle, but do nice things come in small packages? We get listening to find out.

Twice the size of the metal shuffle (it’s roughly equivalent of two shuffle's side by side) the Creative Zen Stone is available in six glossy colours (black, white, red, blue, pink and green) and as you can imagine by the name, has rounded corners so it looks like a pebble or stone.

At first glance the two players are virtually identical, however on closer inspection there are differences. The Zen doesn't for example have a clip that allows you to attach it to your clothes when out on a jog, however it does have a USB socket so you don't have to worry about a docking station when it comes to charging or transferring files.

Likewise buttons are similar, but slightly different, the main ones being that the Stone doesn't have an on switch - power is activated by the play/pause button, and the Zen Stone has a skip folder button that allows you to skip to the next album folder.

It might sound simple, but we found the folder skip button really hand if you have arranged your music by album rather than just a random selection of tracks.

With the capacity to store up to 500 songs on its 1GB flash drive, the Creative Zen Stone has a good battery life that easily lives up to the claimed 10 hours of playback.

Creative do offer some simple software via its website so you can manage the player, however you can simply drag and drop your favourite tracks to the Creative Zen Stone either via a PC or a Mac.

Verdict

As an alternative to the Apple shuffle, the Creative Zen Stone offers plenty.

It might be slightly bigger than the shuffle and be lacking that clip (you can get an armband or keyfob instead) but the Album skip feature, usb socket and the price (it's half of that of the Shuffle) certainly make up for it.

If you're not sold on the iTunes experience and want music in a small package and not fussed about a screen - this is for you.