Zune Review

by Robyn Tippins on February 15, 2007

My birthday was on Friday and my hubby got me a Zune. He also wrote this really sappy and sweet post, so he’s certainly in my good graces. 😉

Some Zune pron:

My first thoughts were about the enormous screen. I’ve had an iPod for a year now, and this screen is much larger. As well, the Zune is a little larger overall and thicker, but oddly, it’s a tad lighter. The surface has a flat, matte look to it. The only shiny parts on the device are the controls and the screen.

The device is comfortable in my hand. And, speaking of comfort, the ear buds are much more comfortable than the ear buds packaged with the iPod. That said, I have to point out that I have small ears (female) so maybe that is not the case for men.

The software install was easy and, despite hearing that the software was buggy and despite it being a Microsoft product (grin), I’ve not seen a hiccup (or a bluescreen) yet. The install process was rather long, but painless. The fact that I was playing Halo 2 at the time, probably made it much less painful than it would have been had I been paying a great deal of attention.

I will say, that despite the long time, I was very impressed that it found all my music and videos, even clips that I had used for the vidcast were located on an external, but connected, drive. Then, when I took it to hubby’s office, ie the church, I did a quick lookup of songs/videos on the church’s computer’s, and was able to pull everything that was on there too. Now, I will say that my husband paid for all that music, so all the RIAA freaks can start breathing again now.

I took the plunge, and against the will of Pheno and Justin, my anti-RIAA pals, bought a Zune.net subscription. I figured if I was going to be a Microsoft fanboi, I should look the part. After 2 years of iTunes, I’m enjoying the music-buffet that a subscription service can offer you. Buying music one song, or album, at a time is expensive. I love the fact that I can check out bands my friends are talking about by just downloading the whole album at will. I downloaded 15 albums on my first night!

As far as video and sound go, I see no difference with a direct comparison of the iPod and the Zune. The controls are fairly similar. I think they are a little more intuitive, but then I am one of the small number of people who never could get a handle on the click wheel, so I may not be the best judge of this. Either way, I don’t see a huge difference with the controls.

Now, why did I want a Zune in the first place?

1. I hate conformity.
Everyone I know has an iPod. I wanted something that was different.

2. I love the idea of sharing music.

With the Zune, users can share songs with freedom with other Zune users. After 3 plays the songs are deleted from the machine.

I think the model MS is using is innovative. I love that I can share, wirelessly, any song on my Zune, with other Zune owners, with ease. Of course, due to reason number 1, I have yet to find another Zune owner locally. However, (close your eyes and cue the sci-fi music), I can imagine a world where songs are portable and sharable (legally). I can see myself at a concert (please let it be Modest Mouse) pulling in a song from the band that’s only available at the show, wirelessly. I can see users at a conference able to pull down the recording of the event as soon as it’s over, via the Zune.

All of this is available right now. Of course, once Microsoft makes some better deals, we’ll lose the 3-song penalty as well, I think.

3. Compatibility with all my other Microsoft machines.

I have 2 XBox 360s and 2 laptops running Media Center (one on Vista). I was dying to see what interoperability with the Zune would bring me.

The XBox 360 gamertag is your Zune name (nice), so I am assuming at some point the sharing will get even deeper. However, already I noticed that, just like the ipod you can join your player’s music to your 360. Of course, the major point being that with the iPod I have a long cord attached to my player and it strings across my screen. With the Zune, I can leave the player on my desk and the wireless component works it’s magic. And, since I have a music subscription now, I can literally listen to whatever I could possibly want while playing Halo, Splinter Cell, Oblivion or Call of Duty. Does life get better than that?

One thing I want to see, is the ability to pull any TV shows I’ve downloaded from the 360 (like my Demitri Martin standup) to the Zune. Surely if I do some tweaking to my system through the Media Center, I should be able to pull off this feat of geekery? I hope so…

4. Radio

I like the FM radio that’s built in, though I wish there were AM capabilities. Regardless, if I want to hear something local, I have that option and that’s rather cool I guess.

I do miss the podcast/vidcast ease that Apple’s iTunes is famous for considering early on. I’m trying out feedyourzune, but haven’t given it the time to give you a proper review. First thoughts are that I still miss iTunes for this, but I see huge potential. I’ll review it next.

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James Tippins February 15, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Well, zuner or later, MS had to do something that rocked without crashing.

BTW – the designer on this product is the same guy that designed the 360 – go figure.


robyn February 15, 2007 at 1:14 pm

John Ikeda or J Allard? Probably Ikeda, right? Allard was the head of the 360 project, not the designer.

Did Ikeda design the orig XBox or the 360 or both?

Daniel R. Sweet February 15, 2007 at 4:56 pm

I noticed that you said the music on your husband’s computer was paid for, but were silent on the issue of your own computer.

I’m sorry, Robyn. I’m going to have to call Jack Stretchyface over at the RIAA.


robyn February 15, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Ha ha… I’m not telling either way, but surely you expected the church to download their music legally? 😉

Pheno (mentioned above), gave me an anti-RIAA sticker for my laptop, but I am usually a legal music downloader. Now, about my other illegal net activities, I’ll never talk.

Daniel R. Sweet February 23, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Sadly, I expect a lot of things out of churches that I am continually disappointed about.

So now, I like to verify these things…


robyn February 23, 2007 at 6:31 pm

You and me both man, you and me both. Is rather disappointing the state of the church today. On a serious note, I often struggle with the pain churches are causing people today. It’s really sad that a place that is supposed to welcome all, often does just the opposite, unless of course, the person is wealthy or ‘important’. It’s a shame and doesn’t line up with the Bible at all.

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