Creative’s Cambridge SoundWorks division has come up with a terrific docking speaker system for anyone who owns a Zen digital media player: The PlayDock Zen takes advantage of nearly every feature those players offer, and it’ll run on batteries, to boot!
The PlayDock Zen delivers very good sound with excellent bass response, thanks to a built-in subwoofer powered by a 24-watt amp (the main speakers receive 12 watts per channel). It crosses the border into the land o’ distortion if you push it too hard, so don’t expect it to fill a big room, but it’s more than adequate for near-field listening or as a bedroom system. It doesn’t sound nearly as lush as the exquisite Majestic Diamond I speakers reviewed on page 72, but it’s also less than half the price and delivers more features than those micro monitors.
The dock has stereo line-in, headphone-out, and video-out ports, so you can hook it up to your TV and watch movies or view photos at 640x480 resolution (we’re happy to report that Cambridge includes the proprietary cable needed to use this feature). A telescoping FM antenna is on the back, too, but it works only with the FM tuner in the 60GB Zen Vision: M—a string antenna is provided for folks who have the 30GB model.
Cambridge provides a system of plastic adapters and neoprene sleeves so that any Zen model will fit tightly into the dock. The 30GB Zen Vision: M we used for this review was well supported and didn’t budge when we pushed its buttons. (The unit also comes with a full-function wireless remote.) But there’s no mechanism for absolutely locking the player into the dock, so we turned the combo upside-down and shook it to see what would happen: The player flopped back and forth and slid a fraction of an inch off its connector, but it didn’t fall out. Still, we’d be wary of toting around a docked player.
Cambridge Soundworks PlayDock Zen has so many features--and quality sound--that the low price makes us feel zen-like.
The dock doesn't hold the player very snugly--this poses a problem for the travel bound.