Creative Labs ZEN Stone
- Attractive design, folder support with folder skipping button, drag and drop support
- Average sound quality, mediocre headphones
The design, ease of use, folder support and low price tag make the ZEN Stone an attractive and superior alternative to the iPod shuffle.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
With Apple's iPod dominating the portable multimedia market, each new player has to have an edge, a catch, a funky feature or a superior design imperative, to merely be considered. Enter the Creative ZEN Stone, a direct competitor to the iPod shuffle (2nd Generation). With features above and beyond what the shuffle can accomplish including drag and drop capabilities and folder structure support, the ZEN Stone offers greater versatility and best of all, doesn't require iTunes.
The ZEN Stone is true to its name and looks much like a small pebble. It has rounded edges, a piano black finish and a minimalist approach to button layout. It uses a standard mini-USB connection to connect to a PC via a USB 2.0 port so users don't have to worry about proprietary connection types or special cables.
Uploading music to the player is simple and easy. The ZEN Stone doesn't require any software, so all you need to do is drag your MP3 files from your PC to the device. The PC finds the Stone as a portable drive, much like a flash memory stick, and it even allows you to drag and drop folders as well. Why is this important? Folder support is something that the iPod shuffle (2nd Generation) is lacking. With the shuffle, music is dumped on the player and users have the choice of listening to it one at a time in order, or turning on shuffle mode which will play files randomly. The Stone gives you a little more control; by putting folders on the device you can use the "skip folder" button to skip to the next folder on the player. This allows users to make folders that only have songs by a particular artist, a folder per album or even folders containing your own compilations. This is a great feature and makes the ZEN Stone a pleasure to use.
Unfortunately, the Stone shares one trait with the iPod iPod shuffle (2nd Generation), that is, the sound quality is fairly average. Using a high-end set of headphones, we found sound to be lacking in many areas. Bass is muddy and distant, while treble sounds tinny. The mid range is good but there isn't much by way of audio separation, so instruments in the music tend to get a little lost in the background. Naturally, a device of this nature doesn't have any equalisers or sound modes, so there is no way to calibrate the sound. Although the sound quality isn't brilliant, it remains more than adequate for casual listening.
We used high-end headphones in our testing simply because the included headphones aren't up to scratch. While they do the job, they compound many of the problems with the Stone including, but not limited to, the tinny treble registers. Using the standard Creative headphones, we also experienced some distortion at high volume levels. Much like the iPod shuffle (2nd Generation), you probably shouldn't look at the Stone as your primary MP3 player. It would suit those who want something to listen to at the gym, or while jogging and hence aren't too fussed about audio quality.
The ZEN Stone comes in a 1GB capacity and will be initially released only in the piano black colour. In July Creative will release pink, white and blue editions. Accessories are also available including an armband, keychain add-on and protective sleeves with a belt clip. Creative rates battery life at up to 10 hours of continuous music playback, and we found this figure very close to the mark.
While the audio quality isn't as high quality as other larger capacity MP3 players on the market, the design, ease of use, folder support and low price tag make the ZEN Stone an attractive and superior alternative to the iPod shuffle.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Portable SSD
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Huawei Mate 9
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Google Daydream VR headset
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Apple TV will serve as hub for remotely controlling HomeKit devices
- Sony Smart B-Trainer headset gives runners vocal advice
- The iPod classic plays its last
- Apple iPod Touch pricing slashed by up to 25 per cent in Australia
- Apple shows off iPod touch, nano updates
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTSenior Marketing Analyst | Immediate startVIC
- CC3 x UX Designers - 3 month contract initially - IT Services company - SydneyNSW
- CCService Desk ConsultantACT
- FTDatabase DeveloperACT
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTLevel 3 Systems EngineerNSW
- TPBI Report Developer - SSRS SSIS SSASNSW
- FTICT Change AnalystSA
- FTNodeJS DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Full Stack Web Developer - Port MacquarieQLD
- FTSenior Java Developers (Several positions available)QLD
- CCMainframe Specialist - Z/OSACT
- FTArcFM/Gis Lead DeveloperNSW
- TPNode JS DeveloperNSW
- FTBusiness Improvement ManagerNSW
- FTApplication Team Lead - ERP & Microsoft TechnologiesNSW
- FTFull Stack Web DeveloperNSW
- FTBusiness Change Lead, OrganisationalNSW
- CCDigital Business ArchitectACT
- CCSenior Network Architect l CCIE R&S l Cisco ACINSW
- CCSAP BPC SME/Consultant - BRISBANE BASEDQLD
- CCBenefits/Business AnalystNSW
- FTSenior IOS DeveloperNSW
- TP.Net Software DeveloperQLD