Creative Labs really knows how to make a fantastic MP3 player, but the company hasn't shown nearly as much skill in the portable speaker arena. This issue has compelled many a Creative MP3 user (including myself) to force their players to couple with "Made for iPod" sound systems. Luckily for Zen V users, this is no longer a concern. Enter the Creative TravelSound Zen V, a $129 portable speaker that works with all Zen Vs (including the Plus versions).
As its name implies, the TravelSound Zen V is quite travel friendly: it measures 9x5x2.2 inches, weighs 1.5 pounds, and comes with a drawstring pouch for transport. Unlike most travel speakers, this unit also comes with an infrared remote. Unfortunately, the remote can't power the TravelSound on or off--as is usually the case with devices that use a switch rather than a button for this feature--but I got around this by just using play/pause when I wanted to stop playback. The remote does include track shuttle keys, mute and mode buttons, volume toggles, and a stereo separation button, which gives the music a wider soundstage. This feature actually worked quite well in testing.
The TravelSound itself has an understated and functional design. It's all black with a brushed silver band wrapping around the edge. The coloring doesn't match the white Zen V very well, but this is a small gripe. The player dock is front and center on the unit; a small piece on the top flips out and plugs into the Zen V's headphone jack and USB port. Unfortunately, the dock isn't spring-loaded, so the player doesn't always sit flush with the speaker. There is a notch cut out of the bottom to help you get the player out, though.