Almost a year on from its launch the Creative Zen Stone has been upgraded, but it's not just a case of the company adding more memory or offering a colour change to entice users.

Somehow while keeping the size small, the company has added a speaker so you can share you music. Thing of fad or amazing technical prowess? We get listening to find out.

For those not aware of the MP3 player from Creative here's a quick recap: the Creative Zen Stone, the cheaper sister of the Zen Stone Plus, follows the route of the Apple iPod shuffle by losing the screen. It is available in 1GB
and 2GB models.

Adding to the mix of the Zen Stone, are the addition of a speaker around the back and from a design point of view the player now adds three grill bars on the back where the sound comes out.

Songs can be transferred via drag and drop and you can even manage your playlist via Apple's iTunes software although you won't be able to transfer DRM tracks.

Unlike the Zen Stone Plus, the Zen Stone is an incredibly simple affair with no additional features other than the music player. Tracks can be skipped via the controls on the front and like the previous Zen Stone there is a switch on the top that allows you to jump to the next folder, ideal for skipping through albums.

Because there is no screen, there is no point having an on/off switch for the speaker, so you get noise from the included speaker if the headphones aren't plugged in.

Overall the player is still very easy to use and still incredibly small.

Surprisingly it sounds pretty good, a touch on the tinny side, but hey it's a mini speaker on the back of a mini MP3 player that will set you back just £50.

The only catch we can see with the design is that in-use we've found ourselves laying the player on the desk with the speaker facing downwards. While on a wooden desk this has helped amplify the sound, on a notepad it muffles it. A kickstand in the design as seen on the Nokia N96 would have been a great addition.


The Zen Stone is a great little MP3 player that will support a number of file formats including unprotected AAC files (including iTunes Plus) however with the Zen Stone Plus offering the same but with an addition of a screen on which to see everything for not a massive step-up in price we can't see why you would opt for this one unless your budget is incredibly tight.

It's not going to be enough to provide music for a party, but in a hotel room or like a chav on the back of the bus, this will do nicely, but go on, blow the budget and get the one with the screen.