Battle of the Brands : iPod Shuffle 2nd Generation vs. Creative Zen Stone

The technology today made it possible to store music, in very small volume as compared with the Walkmans and CD players before. When mp3 players were initially introduced to the market, it couldn’t store more than a normal CD but they were smaller and more portable unlike the latter music players. But today, the advancements in technology made it possible for mp3’s to store thousands of songs, play various music formats, and do more than just play music.

Mp3 players come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and of course, price. For those people who want to have a branded mp3 player that is of good quality that won’t burn your pocket, iPod Shuffle 2nd Generation and Creative Zen Stone are two products that are perfect to choose from.

If you are one of the people in the market who haven’t bought an iPod family member yet for whatever reason, you may want to look at this product first. Creative Zen Stone was named after its curved pebble-like design. Well, obviously, it’s not the coolest looking device to hit the market but for minimalists and tech noobs as they say, it will do wonders. The Zen Stone only weighs around 18g and it measures 53.7mm x 35.3mm x 12.8mm. It has a 1 GB capacity meaning, it could store up to 500 wma’s or 250 mp3’s. Its battery could last for 10 hours for continuous audio playback and could be charged using the syncing cable.

The Zen Stone is coated with hard but smooth plastic which gives it the feel of a polished river rock. It’s also scratch resistant like its sister, the Zen V Plus. Zen Stone comes in 6 different colors, black, white, blue, pink, red, and yellow. I personally recommend the color black, even though it could be mistaken for a car alarm control.

Zen Stone comes with standard earbuds and a syncing cable which lets you store your music from your pc. It supports MP3, WMA and Audible files which could be synced via drag-and-drop in Windows Explorer or through Windows Media Player. Zen Stone is MSC (UMS) meaning, it will work with any modern operating system without installing software, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. And since it’s MSC, the music player could also double as a flash drive, which you could use to store documents, photos and other file types. As for other features, it has a playback switch found on the bottom edge which could let you switch between shuffle and repeat modes. It also includes a function called folder skip. This function enables you to shuffle between folders which make it easier to access playlists and the artist that you want, for example, depending on how you organize things. It also has an LED found on the left face which indicates the status of the player and the battery level with various flashing sequences and LED colors. Although not included in the package, Creative Media Lite, a free integrated software, could be downloaded for free on Creative’s website to enhance the performance of the player. One cool feature of this software is the volume limit feature that allows you to set the maximum volume limit and password protects the ability to change it. I think this is very helpful for parents who want to protect their children’s ears.

Apple’s 1st generation Shuffle became popular because of its small size, its pristine white color, feather-light weight, ease of use and its price compared to other iPod family members. If you loved that model, then for sure you’ll be impressed by the 2nd Generation Shuffle. This stunner is one of the newest additions to the iPod family. This baby is impressively small. It measures only about 41.2 mm x 27.3 mm x 10.5 mm and weighs 15.6 g which makes it smaller and lighter than Creative Zen Stone. It also has a 1 GB capacity and could store around 250 songs. It also has a built-in lithium polymer battery which could last for 12 hours and could be charged using the USB dock included in the package.

Unlike its predecessor, the 2nd generation shuffle comes in a variety of yummy metallic colors to choose from. The 2nd generation shuffle comes with sleek new earphones, a dock which enables you to charge and transfer music from your pc, and a quick start manual for your how to’s and troubleshooting. As with all iPods, it supports MP3, WAV, AIFF, Audible, and both protected and unprotected AAC files. For music management, you still need to download the latest version of iTunes from the Apple website. Just like the Zen Stone, Shuffle could also double as a flash drive which could be used to store pictures, documents, and other file types.

Like Creative Zen Stone and the 1st generation Shuffle, the 2nd generation iPod Shuffle has no screen for navigating through music. Instead, you get a simple circular control pad on the face of the player. There’s no way to navigate among specific songs or artists. Fortunately, you can click play or pause 3x fast to skip through playlists. You could also find two switches on the bottom edge of the player, the power switch and the switch for changing between shuffle and repeat modes which is similar to the playback switch of the Zen Stone. A headphone jack, which doubles as the Shuffle’s USB syncing port could be found on the top side of the device. There’s also a tiny LED indicator that lights up different color combos depending on the status of the player. As for other features, it also has an integrated belt clip which provides a handy way to keep track of the player.

In a world dominated by iPods, you can’t really blame competitors for taking ideas from the mp3 player giant. Such as the case of the Creative Zen Stone that basically shares the same features as the 2nd generation Shuffle. Though Zen Stone has taken its design from the oh-so-popular iPod, it outshines the latter in sound quality and costs only half the price. The 1 GB Zen Stone only costs roughly about PHP 2,000 unlike Shuffle which costs about PHP 5,000. All in all, for PHP 2,000, the Creative Zen Stone is such a steal. For a device that costs about 50% less than Apple’s Shuffle, it’s definitely a great bargain. It’s inexpensive yet the features and the quality are not sacrificed. So if you are looking for an inexpensive branded music player, I’d say go for the Stone.



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