SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plus

clip vs stoneplus SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plus

The Sansa Clip recently proved that it’s a better player than the iPod Shuffle in a faceoff here on abi>>. We won’t let it rest however, as it’s time for it to take on a stronger opponent, feature wise – the Creative Zen Stone Plus.

With both players being available up to 4GB (once the silver clip is released), and both of them featuring pretty much the same features from a technical point of view, this is set to be a much closer competition. Read on to see the face-off.

For those of you who like spec sheets, abi>> Compare can help you out.

stone plus vs sansa clip 01 thumb 130x97 SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plusstone plus vs sansa clip 02 thumb 130x97 SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plusstone plus vs sansa clip 03 thumb 130x97 SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plusstone plus vs sansa clip 04 thumb 130x97 SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plusstone plus vs sansa clip 05 thumb 130x97 SanDisk Sansa Clip vs Creative Zen Stone Plus

Design

Design is always in the eye of the beholder, but the Clip generally comes off as having a more practical design than the Stone Plus. First of all the screen is bigger; to stay with the round style, Creative decided to make a round looking screen which actually is a square screen with a round window. The result is a much smaller screen than that on the Clip. There is a decent amount of space around the screen, and Creative could easier fit a bigger screen.

Button comfort and placement is another side where these two players differ a lot. The Clip has raised buttons which have a nice clicky feeling to them when pressed, while the Stone Plus’ smooth pebble-like design make the buttons harder to press. The Stone Plus also only have 7 buttons, while the Clip has 8 plus a dedicated on/off/hold switch. The hold button is something I really miss on the Stone Plus, even if you can put on key lock from within the player.

The most noticeable difference between the players is of course directly related to the player names. The clip has a clip for attaching to clothes etc, while the pebble shaped Stone Plus require additional accessories to be attached in any way (armband, key chain). If you don’t want to spend extra money on accessories, the Clip’s clip is a very nice addition, and since it’s removable it won’t bug you if you don’t use it.

Usability

Stone Plus

The button mappings on the Stone Plus are somewhat of a mystery to me. One thing that particularly annoyed me was the random use of the shortcut button located on the top, next to the play button. On a device that lacks a dedicated hold button, Creative somehow thought it would be a good idea to make a button with no other purpose than to be a shortcut to a feature of your choice. A much better idea would have been to use it as a back button, since you have to scroll to “cancel” every time you want to get out of a menu. The middle button brings up the menu if pressed quickly, and the option menu if held down for a second. This is fair enough, but I find myself pressing it to try to pause rather often, as the play/pause button is inconveniently located on the top.

The Zen Stone’s interface just leaves a giant question mark above my head. Getting to the right menu is a real hassle, for several reasons. First off, the menus respond slowly and sometimes the player does not seem to respond at all- this leaves you pushing the button again and again. Slowdowns up to 2-3 seconds occur pretty often, especially with music playing. Speaking of the menu, there is both an “option” and a “settings” icon on the main menu, which could easily confuse people. Options are for the mode currently in use (music, radio etc) while settings are the actual settings. The most horrible aspect of the menu is however the lack of file browsing. You can browse folders, but not files, making it impossible to scroll through to find songs you want.

Sansa Clip

The Clip’s buttons are luckily more usable than those of the Stone Plus. You have a dedicated home button that switches between the menu and the mode in use, which is way more useful than a shortcut button. The volume buttons are placed on the sides, but unfortunately the headphone jack is just above them, so using angled plugs with the Clip is somewhat of a hassle when you want to adjust the volume. Switching the placement of the USB and the headphone jack would be a much better solution in my opinion. Since the volume buttons are on the side, that means the round click wheel has room for both a menu button and a play/pause button.

The interface is luckily not as slow on the Clip as it is on the Stone Plus, in fact it is pretty fast and responsive. Music navigation is by means of ID3 tags like artist, album etc- scrolling through the list is very fast. Disappointingly, the Clip does not have file folder browsing.

Features

Radio

Both players have radio, and both radio receivers are pretty poor. Testing indoors, they more or less preformed just as poorly. The Clip has radio recording which the Stone Plus lacks, otherwise they are both equally uninteresting in this area.

Voice recording

Voice recording is another gimmick that most likely won’t be used much. Both players record to low quality wav, and neither will be even a half decent replacement for a dictaphone.

Stopwatch and clock

The Stone Plus has two nice little features that the Clip is lacking, a clock and a stopwatch. The clock can be set as a screensaver or linked to the shortcut button, and works well. The stopwatch however, is not that useful. When music is not playing, it works just fine, but as with everything on the Stone Plus, playing music means it will lagg so bad I doubt it’s even accurate. We’re talking laggs for a second at a time, and it doesn’t even stop right away when your press stop.

Other Notes

There are some other differences between the features of these two that should be noted. The Clip is MSC/MTP selectable, the Stone Plus is only MSC. Both use a mini USB connector, and since both can do MSC that means OS compatibility is great on both players, and you won’t need any proprietary cables. A bigger more significant difference is battery life. The Clip is rated at 15 hours versus the Stone Plus with 9,5, and those 5,5 extra hours is something I think many people will welcome.

Sound Quality

You won’t be disappointed by the sound quality of the Stone Plus, as it will make most common users very happy, but competing against the Clip on flat EQ is something not many players can do. The most noticeable difference is the soundstage, the Clip has an amazing channel separation and switching from the Stone Plus to the Clip is like positioning the various instruments more correctly.

That being said, the EQ of the Stone plus is noticeably better than that of the Clip, and it also has a bass boost option. Neither of the players will disappoint you, but sound quality wise it’s flat EQ vs EQ for these two.

Conclusion

I really don’t want to sound like a Clip fanboy, but in this matchup there is only one winner. The Stone Plus is extremely slow, clumsy, has a rather bad battery life, a
nd with basic things like hold button and file browsing missing, the Clip is it’s master in almost every aspect. Since both players are priced about the same, there is not much to be said to make you want to choose the Stone Plus over the Clip. The speaker version which is coming out any day now might be a selling point if you like audio books or sharing music with your friends, and it will also have a better battery life. If that’s not a priority – stay with the Clip.

Links

[ Sansa Clip Review | Sansa Clip product page | Zen Stone Plus review | Zen Stone Plus product page ]

18 Comments

Chuwy on March 3, 2008 8:32 PM

As always, incredibly useful.I’ve been thinking about this one for quite some time, and your article was the final nail in the zen’s coffin.But of course, now it’s a matter of video or no video, and if I do decide to get video, the P2 or the iPod Touch, OR hold out for what was shown during CES by iRiver.Oh, the woes of being a non-casual consumer.

Adrian on March 3, 2008 9:54 PM

I have a Sansa Clip and it is amazing i dont know how the Radio for everyone is not working properly because here i can hear all the stations that i can listen to regularly. Maybe its because i live in downtown. I love the clip it has for when i go running. It easily replace the huge bulk of ugly Zune. Get a Clip, dont waste your money on iCrap.Love these reviews.Keep em comin’~ADRIAN~

Dan on March 4, 2008 3:07 AM

I actually had bought a Zen Stone Plus first and after having to deal with the surprisingly awkward interface (what happened, Creative?) and inferior battery life I went for the Clip. Very minor niggles aside, it’s easily the better MP3 player in every respect. … And it DEFINITELY kicks the krap out of the iPod shuffle, too! Get one… as far as small MP3 players go, you can’t go wrong with the Clip.

mesonto on March 4, 2008 11:27 AM

At first I had a nano and got tired of that piece of cr@p that apple calls iTunes. Then I went free. Then I bought both of the reviewed products.First I bought the stone because it was much cuter then the clip, then I returned it.The only reason I did this was because the stone has (and no one ever mentions this!!!) only usb 1.1 for transfer, while the clip has 2.0.The stone is way too slow for the transfer of my music.Now I have the clip. BTW, I find both product superior to my nano, which is unfortunately collecting dust.

MV on March 4, 2008 5:30 PM

I have a 1 GB Creative Stone (screenless) and it works fine, it’s not slow and it has a good battery. I bought because it looks pretty much to the 2nd generation Ipod Shuffle, and I like that it’s drag & drop.

Andreas Ødegård on March 4, 2008 5:58 PM

Youre right in that the stone is slow, but it is USB 2.0, not 1.1. There havent been a USB 1.1 deice in years, and if it were, transferring a 5MB sog would take at least 4 seconds, and thats the maximum 1.1 speed. I can assure you its way fastar than that. If your stone showed up as 1.1, thats a common error with half broken USB devices, I myself have had it on many occasions. It is however a bug/error and not the player thats 1.1

Len on March 4, 2008 10:37 PM

I was received the stone plus as a gift and have been using it since then. It’s really simple to navigate with. I don’t even need a manual. What I really like was the clock and stopwatch in the player, its really handy for my exercises. Overall, I’m pleased with it :)

Nick on March 4, 2008 11:55 PM

Fantastic – I just purchased the Clip on the weekend and was debating between this and the stone. This would have helped ensure that I purchased a clip above and beyond that.Great little review, and although it does sound there is a bit of bias towards the clip, it makes sense seeing what I do now of the clip vs the sansa operation.I DO wish the Clip had a clock, that would have been huge for me – however I’ll survive without it.I love creative (I have a Vision:M) and I’d never chose a iPod over them, but for flash players? Clip FTW as the interwebs kids would say

Chet on March 5, 2008 8:26 PM

Does any one know when the 4gb (silver) Clip will be available?

Wiggy on March 7, 2008 10:01 AM

The 4GB model has been available for a couple of weeks, at the Sandisk online store.The 4GB has a problem, though: a reflective coating on the front that causes the display to be almost impossible to see in daylight conditions.Sandisk is going to release a firmware update, in the next few weeks, to increase the maximum settable display brightness. Sandisk has already posted a “setting expectations” message in the Sansa Clip forum indicating that even after the upgrade, the display will likely still be difficult to see outdoors.

Wiggy on March 7, 2008 10:03 AM

The 4GB model has been available for a couple of weeks, at the Sandisk online store.The 4GB has a problem, though: a reflective coating on the front that causes the display to be almost impossible to see in daylight conditions.Sandisk is going to release a firmware update, in the next few weeks, to increase the maximum settable display brightness. Sandisk has already posted a “setting expectations” message in the Sansa Clip forum indicating that even after the upgrade, the display will likely still be difficult to see outdoors.

Ned on March 14, 2008 1:00 AM

I have used the 1 gig model for a couple weeks now. The left channel always chirps before playing an mp3, which is a huge letdown. I’ll try to get it exchanged but I bought off ebay (beware!) Otherwise I’m satisfied compared to my old muvo2. the muvo had a little more power and better battery life. I miss browsing by directory.

shedevil on May 8, 2008 1:48 PM

I have a Clip from the Sansa store (www.shopsansa.com) and I absolutely love it. My other small MP3 went kaput on me, so I tried the Clip and I love it. I haven’t had any radio issues with it either. That is actually one of my favorite features

Alvaro on July 22, 2008 4:32 PM

I also got a Zen Stone Plus with Speaker and USB speed is pathetic. I think it has to have a 1.1 USB interface. Someone wrote before that it has 2.0 USB, but I don’t think so. Anyway, I don’t find official specification of USB version. I gave it back. Don’t like to wait more than 20 minutes to tranfer 2GB of music.

Blogscapes on August 30, 2008 3:31 AM

Hi, thanks for the review. I was actually thinking about getting a small player to go running with and was thinking about the zen stone plus , and now i have another option with the clip!

Jane on December 9, 2008 3:17 PM

Thinking of getting the Sansa Clip for my 9 year old son and I know nothing about this stuff. Is there a way to listen aside from earphones? Thanks.

Larry on September 9, 2009 12:09 AM

This review was obviously written by someone more experienced with the Clip. I had a Stone Plus for over a year, and have just had to buy a Clip+ (I would have gladly bought another Stone Plus, but it seems to be off the market now).All the things that the reviewer claims to dislike about the Stone, are things that I liked. I liked the button layout, I liked the menus (and never had any problem with their speed), I liked the smooth rounded body of the Stone (it slides in and out of a pocket so easily). I used the one-touch button to bring up the clock, and the speaker was so handy to have.I’m sure I will learn to like the Clip too, but I’m sad to see that the Stone apparently lost in the marketplace.

rubin pham on December 23, 2009 4:30 PM

i have 2 zen stone plus and 2 sansa clip. i prefer the zen stone because it is always recognized by the pc whereas the sansa may not. furthermore, zen stone can put out more power than the clip.since the zen stone no longer produced by creative. i have to buy the new sansa clip plus.

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