Creative Zen Stone: Has the iPod Shuffle met its match?
It was kind of a relief when Apple released the iPod Shuffle MP3 player for under $100. It may have lacked a display, color or otherwise, and it was without the now-iconic clicker wheel, but what do you expect for that price? It does do what we want, which is to play music.
Creative Zen Stone has now released something that is definite healthy competition for the iPod Shuffle, and Steve Jobs should be worried. The Creative Zen Stone was rumored to be one of the first major MP3 Players to be under $50, but as it turns out it's about under $40.
Of course, it doesn't have the screen, and is larger than an iPod Shuffle (2.1" x 1.4" x 0.5" ), but it does have a considerably better look. No doubt named the Zen Stone due to it's shape looking like those "hot-rocks" from the spa. That is, if you like the black. It also comes in white, red, blue, pink, and green.
As for the technical specs, there is about 1GB, which is about 250 songs. It has a battery life of 10 hours, and supports WMA and MP3, but no DRM. The buttons resemble the iPod clicker wheel, and also includes a shuffle button on the side.
Personally, I think this Creative Zen Stone will be like the stone that you throw in a still pond. In other words, prepare for the ripples. Now that the Creative Zen Stone is half the price of an iPod shuffle, Apple is going to have to do something to make certain that people don't buy it or don't know about it. Man, Creative might as well have flown a plane into Apple's headquarters. Begun the MP3 wars have.
I really see no clear winner of this war except us, the consumer. As MP3 player companies strive for a cheaper MP3 player, this will make the minimalist players like the Shuffle and Zen Stone drop in price. I'm guessing we'll soon see MP3 Players for under $20. Not only that, the MP3 Players with many features, such as the iPod nano, will be as affordable as the regular basic-features iPod.
The initial release date for the Creative Zen Stone is mid-May, and it already has a line of accessories ready to market. For example, the Creative Zen Stone keychain ($12.99), an armband ($15.99), and the TravelSound Zen Stone, a tiny speaker system that runs for 20 hours on two AAA batteries ($39.99).