January 2, 2007
More Zune: Hands on Experience
Being the AV guy that I am, I'm often looked to for computer advice, gear advice and consumer electronics advice. A girl in my office got a Zune for Christmas from her boyfriend and didn't know the first thing about it. She doesn't own a computer and our computers at work are merely terminals, so she doesn't have a way to connect it. She doesn't know the first thing about an MP3 or an MP3 player. She asked if I would take it home and charge it and put some songs on. We've talked about music before, so I knew I could come up with some stuff that she likes, stuff she might like, stuff she would like, and stuff she should but wouldn't like to put on there. I have to say I like the packaging. It had the feel of opening a box set of CD's. It's very clean for Microsoft; They usually have pretty busy packaging. I like the feel of it. It's bigger and heavier than my iPod, which I expected, but it also didn't make me think I would break it if I put it in my pocket. I loaded the software and was disappointed that I had to name her Zune, set up a Microsoft passport, and set up a Zune Store account in order to install the software. The thing that attracted me to iTunes was how slick it was and now how much slicker it has become, you aren't required to set up an account unless you want to purchase music from the iTunes store. I see where Microsoft is going with this, but it still reinforced that this isn't for beginners. The market that they seem to be targeting is young, younger than Apple's target, so maybe they hope to wrangle the Xbox360 crowd and teens/tweens that don't already have an iPod. It wasn't intuitive whatsoever for me to add music to the Zune. I had to wait a long time for it to search my hard drives for compatible songs. At current count, I have 101.89 GB of music on my computer so I finally ditched the process and figured I could find something in what had loaded that I could put on her Zune. At some point I unplugged the Zune to see if music had transfered. It hadn't but when I plugged it back in, it needed to upgrade the firmware to v. 1.2. To add music to the Zune, you can't just click a song or a playlist and drag it to the Zune. You add it to a sort of queue and then click sync. It syncs pretty fast, maybe faster than my iPod. I threw a couple of videos on there to see how they did, too. The sound quality is good, the FM radio is great, the video is pretty good. Overall, it's a decent device. I still think the new features (FM and Sharing via wifi) are not enough to put it on the same level as an iPod. I do however have hope that MS will continue to make updates to include new features. The hardware and firmware seem to be pretty easy to make changes to, so there's room for improvement without having to wait for the next generation of Zune. I'm not going to buy one, but I wouldn't be against recommending one to someone if the next update makes it a little easier for a novice or a teen/tween to operate. I also noticed this gem while installing it. I unchecked the box, but the default is a checked box. Who knows what info is transfered if the box is checked?
It also drove me crazy that it required the use of Internet Explorer to view the associated web sites. I've never understood the browser war. I don't understand how Mozilla makes money with Firefox, but I use it and prefer it. I have to use Internet Explorer for Windows updates and the RSS reader I use uses IE, too, but I'd much prefer to not have to. And by the way when I'm not getting traffic via Google for Erin Andrews, DailyMotion.com, and random people and phrases I've blogged; the Google traffic for "Zune Pros Cons" has been pretty steady. I'm listed fourth for that search in my Google. What number am I in your Google? Maybe MKinMotion.com is the alternative to Zune.com which gives an error in Spanish. (Zune.net is the official Zune site.) More, while I was typing this, some one stumbled on my earlier Zune post by searching Google with "Pros Cons Zune" so I did the same search and turned up at the top of the list. Listen up Microsoft!