Creative has a penchant for offering a wide array of choices for the MP3 player consumer, so it comes as little surprise that the company decided to add a screen and some extra features to the ultra-basic Zen Stone. The new Plus version, which comes with 2GB of storage and a palatable $69.99 price tag, isn't exactly an improvement over its predecessor. Instead, it's just a different option that will appeal to active users that need a little more than a screenless MP3 player can offer--and that's not a bad thing.
At first glance, it appears that the tiny (3/4-inch), round screen is the only thing distinguishing the Zen Stone Plus from its Plus-less sibling. Indeed, the players are the same size (2.1 inches wide by 1.3 inches tall by 0.4 inch deep) and nearly the same weight (at 0.74 ounce, the Plus has 0.09 ounce on the Stone), and they come in the same six colors: black, blue, green, pink, red, and white. They both have a lanyard loop built into the left edge, a standard mini USB port and reset hole on the bottom side, and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on the top. To the right of the screen, the Zen Stone Plus has a five-way control pad, which consists of volume and track shuttle keys surround a center button. However, unlike with the Stone, this center button is a select/menu key. The play/pause function can be found on the top edge of the device, making up one half of a rocker (the other half is a shortcut key). On the Stone, there was a shuffle/repeat switch rather than this rocker.
Overall, it's a basic design that is not unattractive and certainly falls into the cute and pocket-friendly category. However, the simplicity in the design paired with the tiny screen make for navigation that is not the most intuitive--most users will not get by without reading parts of the included quick guide. For example, rather than stepping you out or forward in the navigation tree, the track shuttle keys do the same thing as the volume keys within the menus: move the selector up or down. Music organization also suffers, in that there isn't much to it. You can't browse folders without actually skipping through them--that is, the first song from each folder will start playing as you browse. The gist is that you're getting the same exact music navigation as with the Stone, just now you have a screen. Essentially, the screen just serves to allow for several other features.