Creative has announced a new version of its feature-free Zen Stone music player – the Zen Stone Plus. The MP3 player has a 2GB flash memory and will have a small circular blue display. This contrasts with the Stone, launched last month, which had no screen, aping Apple’s tiny iPod Shuffle player.

The Zen Stone Plus has a built-in FM radio, clock and stopwatch as well as a microphone, meaning the player will be able to double as a voice recorder.

Songs can be dragged and dropped on to the Stone Plus, with no special software required. If it works the same way as the Stone, a reboot will be required the first time you hook up the player to your PC, after which you will be able to plug it in via a USB port and copy tracks straight to it.

Retailing at £49.99 inc VAT, the 2GB Stone Plus boasts twice the capacity of the Stone – at the lowest sampling rate of 64K, it will be able to accommodate as many as 1,000 songs. In practice, most tracks are ripped from CD or downloaded from an online store at higher bitrates than this, so storing 500 to 700 songs on the Stone Plus may be a more realistic figure.

Even so, the price of the Stone Plus significantly undercuts that of Apple’s minute iPod Shuffle MP3 player, offering almost twice the capacity for the same price. Coupled with the fact that Creative is one of the best-known brands in MP3 circles, the Zen Stone Plus could be a compelling choice for Apple iPod refuseniks.

Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative, said: “With the Zen Stone Plus, we are giving consumers another great choice. For £49.99 they can have 2GB of memory and a vibrant screen that enables them to access their favourite FM radio stations, plus a built-in microphone for voice recording. There’s even a clock/stopwatch and customisable equalizer settings.”

The Stone Plus comes in the same vibrant colours as the £28 Stone: black, white, red, blue, pink and green.