There's a buttload of weird 2000s mp3 players out there, of which there's a small list of 'em that I'm looking to buy if I were to ever find 'em for cheap. The other day I found a Creative Zen Stone Plus new - open box for the price that broken loose ones were going for, so here's a fresh review of the Zen Stone
This one was specifically on the list for A: being made by creative, known for their 90s PC sound blaster cards and the such, and B: the funky styling, being shaped like a stone with two circles that looks kinda like a drop in water.
Thank you Creative for packing in 3 revisions of the quick start guide. A few things off the bat, it did come pre loaded with some sample music... (Here's some snippets)
"Electrofuzz" by Sound Corruption
"Disco Dancer" by Parka
...and the fact that it didn't appear to be charging. It did work when plugged in and could transfer music, but did not hold a charge whatsoever
Now doing a bit of research I quickly figured out a few things:
- There's no guides for taking apart a zen stone
- It's nearly impossible to take apart without breaking it
- No one sells direct replacement batteries
- The battery is soldered on
So.. Part two this is changing from a Zen Stone review to "First human to repair a Zen Stone" article. Carefully studying the one imageset online of someone taking one of these apart (shattering the front plastic in the process), I concluded that I have no idea how this thing is held together. No screws, no obvious clips. So I took a jab at it and jabbed a drill bit through the back at a pin that I thought was holding the shell together. I missed a little bit, and now there's a micro resister on my desk, but I think it only affects right channel headphone output so I'll fix that later.
That being said, that had no impact on the shell, so I took some vice grips and a razor blade and started brute forcing the seam along the edge, and after a LOT of force (enough to snap the blade twice) I was able to coax the shell into opening without shattering. I think they just slapped a bunch of glue along the edge and called it good which is very cool I'm glad this is a recent trend to make things harder to take apart especially when they're plastic.
I think I can just buy any 3.7v battery battery and slap it in there (maybe even a higher mAh for longer playtime) so I'm gonna first resolder whatever fell off earlier, and then try to see if I can get it to charge with something so I can finish this review
OK so update from a few days later, battery arrived, it's less wide, has a larger capacity, and is ever so slightly thicker so the case won't shut.
Whatever, it at least works now, and I soldered the lil tiny reistor back on so it's in stereo too. I'll probably get a more correct battery eventually, but for now this is enough. In honor of the Zen name, I went out and recorded some calming nature sounds with the built-in microphone (you may want to turn your volume up it's a li'l quiet)
Grouse (the popping noises halfway through)
Oh yeah for the actual review part. The audio quality is pretty good, I've heard better but it's definitely good enough for if I were to daily it. Also the screen is shit. If you've got any lights on inside you won't be able to see it and to record anything outside I had to look at it under my shirt. It could just be my unit 'cause I've seen photos of ones with decent screens so maybe it just sat under the sun all this time or something idk. The model without the screen might be better for tactilely using it but then again any mp3 player with only a d-pad and a few other buttons won't be great for pocket-use.
Have been runnin' it with the case off since it won't shut lol, makes the screen easier to see too
To sum it up: If the screen or the battery or the repairability weren't issues it'd prolly do the job if all ya were doing was listening to music with it