Over the past few years, the people over at Creative have tried their best in order to match just about everything its most important rival, the Cupertino-based Apple company, has thrown on the market. And that's also the case with the Zen Stone Plus with built-in speaker, launched back in the first half of 2008, a device designed to counter the influence of the iPod nano and mini models, as well as add a little extra value for the customers' money.
The device is available in either 2 or 4 GB storage capacity, which means that it can store up to 1000 of your favorite songs in MP3 format (the top version). Quite obviously, we're dealing with an ultra-portable device, the overall form factor confirming the targeted market segments (55.6 x 35.7 x 17.5 mm, at a weight of just 27 grams).
Although it's not much of a screen (you won't be able to see anything but the menus on it), the 64 x 64 resolution blue OLED display does its job pretty good, allowing you to navigate the menus in a quick and easy manner. In addition, the portable player is powered by a rechargeable Li-Ion battery, which provides an overall functioning time of around 20 hours.
Furthermore, the Zen Stone Plus with built-in speaker also incorporates a FM tuner, which takes full advantage of the Rock Deejay feature, thus allowing you to switch quickly from your personal music collection to live radio from 32 preset stations. And for even more added value, the device also incorporates a microphone, which allows it to work as a voice recorder.
The device works with several of the most popular music formats around, including MP3, WMA as well as non-protected AAC2 (.m4a) from iTunes Plus, which means that the Stone can actually play the music previously offered by Apple solely for iPod users (which seriously enhances the targeted market segments). Additionally, the player also supports Audible 2, 3 and 4 files, thus representing quite a good solution for listening to books in audio format.
The ZEN Stone Plus package (which, besides the player itself, also includes a pair of earphones, a skin, a clip, an USB cable and a Quick Start Guide) retails for around 60 US dollars, which is by no means a small price for such a device, compared to other models available on the market (although the number of players with built-in speakers is not exactly huge).