Unless you own an iPod, you'll generally be hard-pressed to find a slew of accessories available for your MP3 player. Aware of this, Creative offers some choices that are specifically designed for the company's players. One of these is the TravelDock Zen Micro ($129.95), and as the name suggests, it's geared toward Zen Micro owners. Yes, you can plug other sources--even an iPod--into the auxiliary input, but we don't recommend these pricey speakers to anyone but Zen Micro owners.
Creative's strong suit has always been design, and the TravelDock is no exception to this tradition. With a flip-top cover that, when open, becomes the stand for the unit to lean on and four drivers flanking the cradle for the Zen Micro in the center, the TravelDock is a good-looking piece of equipment. We wish that the stand would stay put; it occasionally slides a bit and changes the angle of the speakers, but overall, this is a handsome and well-designed unit. It makes a good travel companion, too, as it measures a compact 7 by 2 by 4 inches and weighs a little more than a pound. Unlike the MP3 player for which it was made, the Creative TravelDock Zen Micro comes in only one color: white.
Aside from its obvious, main use as a speaker dock for the Zen Micro, the TravelDock boast a few other tricks. It includes a remote control for adjusting volume, navigating tracks, and turning the power on and off, though it works only if a Zen Micro is being used. The speaker also has an FM antenna, so you can listen to even clearer radio through your Zen Micro. And like several of its Creative cousins, it boasts an expanded stereo sound-enhancement feature. When pressed, the expanded stereo button seems to widen the stereo field and add vibrance to the music. Without this feature, the sound isn't so vibrant.
Just about every rock tune that we cranked up on the Creative TravelDock Zen Micro became a distorted mess; this machine is for lower listening levels. Regardless of the levels, the bass performance was a disappointment; given the size of the TravelDock and the four drivers involved, we were expecting a bit more punch. True, it has a Sub Out, but who brings their subwoofer to a hotel? Don't expect any goose bumps from the low end, but for listening at moderate levels, this is a fine travel companion, and it sure is pretty. The rated battery life of 25 hours from two AA batteries isn't bad, either.