Zune : What I love and what I hate

I bought a Zune in December of 06′. I tried it, and it works well for me. From time to time, I’ve run in great and bad moments with my Zune.  Overall, it’s a great product. I’ve even sold my old black ipod to get some accessories with it. But it definitely needs some improvement, fast. So here’s what I absolutely love about my Zune that makes it so unique (most are comparisons to the dominant player in the market – the iPod):

  1. It has a bigger screen – It may not be like a whole lot bigger, but it’s still bigger. And I like it. Nice screen, and it hasn’t got scratched so far.
  2. The UI is so awesome – This really rivals the iPod’s UI. Navigation is really quik and easy. Similiar to Windows Media Center. I liked the clickwheel thing on the ipod, but there were times I hated it, because it sometimes skips too fast, or one turn kills the volume. Ugh. At least the d-pad gives you better control. Not as cool, but better in the long term.
  3. It’s scratch-resistant and durable – Unlike the iPod, I don’t think I have one nick on my Zune. I saw some marks before, but with a little water, it came off and it looked nice again. Plus, the Zune feels really durable in my hand. It’s that nice. The outside covering has a pretty nice feel. The doubleshot to me is cool. I never liked the back side of the iPod. It was too scratchy and shiny for my taste.
  4. Has a Wi-Fi feature – Now I know it’s not as great as it was supposed to sound, but at least it’s something. To tell you the truth, I had time to meet with anyone with a Zune to share (although I did at least know 1-2 guys at school that had one), so I wouldn’t know exactly how it works. But I heard it wasn’t that bad. Basically you can only send songs and photos (no videos). You can keep the photos, but it’s different with the songs. Due to copyright laws or whatever, you either have 3 plays or 3 days, whichever comes 1st. 3 plays = you can play on 3 times on the device, 3 days = you have within 3 days to play that music 3 times, or else it’s just gone. It gets saved in your inbox so that you can look at it later on Zune Marketplace. It’s not that bad to me, but what are people expecting? To keep the songs for free, and not buy any more music and just keep sharing and freeloading? I don’t know, but I guess Microsoft could have done more. Whatever. iPod doesn’t have WiFi at all. But at least Microsoft established the need or thought of applying Wi-Fi to music devices. Now you got the Sansa Connect, and maybe the next iPod will have this feature. Although people are saying that Apple will do it right. Sigh.
  5. built in FM tuner – Sure, I already have music on my Zune, but it never hurts to listen to the local stations. There might be a prize giveaway, or I might discover some new music. If you don’t like it, then don’t use it. That’s all there is with it.
  6. it’s pretty customizable – for a first-timer, you have to give the Zune chops for having lots of ways to customize it. You can have accessories, which there actually is a pretty good amount of. I saw lots on the Zune site, and a couple more at retail stores. Plus you can even customize the UI of your Zune with a background pic of your choice. I really like that. I’ve remembered times when somebody says "Uh, who’s iPod is this?". With a personal background pic, it’s easy to know.
  7. subscription music service – You can either buy music on Zune Marketplace via ‘la carte’ (buy the music by itself) or by subscription (renting the music for awhile). Personally, I prefer ‘a la carte’. I’d rather just simply buy the music I like and keep it. A subscription service you have to worry about paying monthly and not forgetting or what not. But some people like it, and it’s good that Microsoft is giving that choice. You can only buy music ‘a la carte’ on iTunes.
  8. better integration with the Xbox 360 – I haven’t tried this one, but I think it’s good. I don’t see how it’s integrated though. It’s not like you can buy music from Xbox Live to put on your 360 and Zune. Nor can you buy games to put on the Zune. So how is it ‘better intergrated’? iPod syncs with the 360 if you download something from Xbox Live, but I don’t see how the Zune makes it more better. I wish Microsoft would have made that more clear. But I’ll still support that statement, unless I try it and it isn’t better.
  9. landscape mode – you can view videos on the Zune’s side (the left side). It’s gives it a more of a TV feel I guess, and it looks nice. It only works for viewing videos though, it’s not like you can the whole Zune UI like that all the time. But it’s pretty good.
  10. comes with a 14 day free trial card – not exactly groundbreaking, but it’s nice. I didn’t use it though. Not interested in using the subscription method.
  11. has more of the latest technology in it – nothing to prove this one, but I would assume it does since the last new version of the iPod was made a bit of awhile ago.
  12. more color choices – You can choose black (my pick, and most popular), white, brown, orange (had a few of these), pink (the really salmon colored was a rare one, and a ligher pink with more quantities), and red.
  13. better boxed earplugs – well just like the iPod’s, the earplugs they come with aren’t so hot, but at least they have a magnetic clip to keep the buds to each other, and a wire seperator on it.
  14. can do the limbo – just joking on this one. Couldn’t think of anything else.

So that’s all I could come up with on my own. You at least have to admit, for a first-timer, Microsoft did some good things based on what I pointed out above. A pretty good start at least. But it definitely needs improvements, fast! The reason it’s not an iPod killer, is that there simply aren’t more outstanding features. So here’s a big list of things I want and wish they would improve:

  1. Reduce the size – the 30 GB Zune (the only type) is kinda chunky. Although I don’t mind it that much, I would kinda like it to be as slim as the 5G iPod. I don’t know why it couldn’t come slimmer, but I would like that please.
  2. More models – Currently, there’s only a 30 GB hard-drive version. Not everyone fits that type. How about flash players (for people who like to listen to some tunes), flash players with a UI (the one that Zune is mostly likely going to do, similiar the the iPod nano), 30 GB, 60 GB, 80GB, or even more bigger hard-drive based ones. Microsoft needs to expand in a more diverse market here.
  3. Get rid of yucky advertising – Ok, "Welcome to the Social". Who thought of that? It’s completely stupid. There’s barely anyone with a Zune, and it’s already a social? No way. And I didn’t like the some of the adverts they had. There were some really grotesque ones, where I don’t know why they even picked them. But I did like the firebird one, the rabbit one (avaliable only on the Zune Arts site, look for the man and bunny), the cookie one, lion and gazelle one, and that’s it. I hate the way they advertise it as a bohemian feel, and how they seem to target the types that goes to rock concerts, music only places, I mean it’s just not cool with everybody. It seems like Zune is targeting to a certain group of people. They shouldn’t. It’s should be meant for everybody. I never liked the way they were doing it. Plus making your flagship color brown is not so cool. People have been making fun of that, and I can’t blame them. It’s not cool, really. Microsoft should work on the way they show the Zune, quik.
  4. Zune software needs tons of work – Not the software on the device, but the software you use to manage it on the computer (Microsoft needs to clarify between that. HINT: iPod and iTunes). It sometimes rather clunky. When I 1st installed the software, it took quite awhile and didn’t seem stable. Then I think either the first or few times I plugged the Zune to the computer, it didn’t connect. I had to restart, plug/replug until it could. I never came across that again though. I even had one guy in my class said that he had problems with installing it, that he had to return it, and just buy an iPod. Sad isn’t it? Then a few days ago, I tried to install the new firmware 1.4, but the first time it failed. I did the whole plug/replug thingy again, and it didn’t provoke me to install the latest firmware 1.4 again. I tried messing around with the software, but I couldn’t figure it out. I did get some help from this guy, but it was already too late. The next time I put my Zune in, it did prompt me to do it. Finally. So yeah, the software needs tons of work. There’s some things I like about it, but not much.
  5. It should integrate with Windows Media Player 11 – Not exactly something that will come soon, but it is a big wish on me and others. Why did Zune have to have it’s own software to manage? Wouldn’t this make Windows Media Player redundant (not really)? I think it was a big mistake. Microsoft was trying to do the whole iPod + iTunes ecosystem that Apple did, that made the iPod a success. The problem though is that they started it, they built it, and anybody who’s going to copy it, probaly won’t be that successful. You can’t copy a success and hope to win. They should have just integrated itself into WMP. WMP 11 is great by the way. Even better than iTunes in my mind. It’s really quik and simple. It was already bad enough that it the Zune will hurt the hardware vendors from Microsoft’s own PlayForSure initiative, but now it would also hurt the content providers of PlayForSure. Sure, maybe Microsoft couldn’t avoid hurting the hardware vendors of it, but they could at least cut the content providers some slack. Zune should just be another option in the content provider list. If you plugged in a Zune, the Zune Marketplace service could come up as the default, and maybe if you wanted Napster, then you could choose Napster. Microsoft shouldn’t have to worry about Zune Marketplace losing to the others in WMP. If Zune Marketplace keeps up with content and does a great job, and offer some good stuff, then users will pick that one. Then it could entice them to actually buy a Zune. It’s not that hard to do. Moving to it’s own software was a bad desicion in my mind. There were just too many problems with it. WMP has been establish, and version 11 is awesome. Making your own software so that you could ensure that only Zune Marketplace will work is making another monopoly just like iPod + iTunes is. Consumers want choices.
  6. Get rid of DRM in Zune Marketplace – I heard that Microsoft might partner with EMI to get some non-DRM tracks, which is a good thing. It would be great if Microsoft could just get rid of the DRM tunes completely and replace it with non-DRM ones, but that doesn’t seem likely. Most likely, they’ll probaly do what Apple is doing. They’ll offer them alongside the DRM ones, but they’ll cost a bit more, and even might be more higher quality. If it works out well, Microsoft might get rid of DRM tunes completely, and replace them, hopefully with the familiar 99 cent price per song, and it would do the world great that way. That’s all just a dream, but it could come true. Oh, and Microsoft doing that thing with Universal wasn’t so cool. Them and the RIAA are virtually on most people’s hate list, so I wish Microsoft could stop with that. Music should be free, not confined to deal with money, lawsuits, and the miseries of life.
  7. Get rid of the Microsoft Points – Most people, like me, just like to simply use the national currency. I want dollars, not points. Plus, I’m not sure how 80 Microsoft Points = 1 dollar. I also read that in some markets, Microsoft Points cost more for the same quantity of points due to currency fluctuations. So why not just simply use the national currency then? Much easier in my opinion. Plus some people think that it’s a rip-off. If I buy a 1500 point card at Target, and I have like 25 points left in my account, and I want to take it out as real money, could I do that? How much would it be, and how and will Microsoft give me that money back? Microsoft doesn’t seem to make it clear to me, so for all I know, they just keep that extra spare change. Not pretty. I don’t know how Xbox Live users have been living with it, but I couldn’t stand to use the point system all the time. You hear many people complaining about it with the Zune, because you’ll find a bigger user base with the music industry, than the video game industry. I don’t like it either. It’s just stupid in my mind. Fix it, Microsoft.
  8. Podcasting support – I don’t do podcasting, but I know many users out there want it. Currently there’s a site called Feed Your Zune where you can download for free a podcasting software to work with your Zune. Zune and WMP 11 should both have this. Podcasting is growing, and people want it. So build them in. Even though podcasting did start coming from the iPod, there’s no reason why Microsoft just can’t do it. Every company makes some success, and if it’s a de facto standard, then put it in.
  9. Accept more format standards – Native support for MPEG-4, Xvid/DivX, .avi, .bmp, .mpg, .vob, and any other type of format. Media should work seamlessly with the Zune and other Microsoft products. Not so that Microsoft’s propietary formats are always the default. What wins should win on it’s own.
  10. Using Zune as player when plugged into a PC – for now, it only just syncs and updates when plugged into a PC, but that’s it. Unless you disconnect it, you can’t actually use it.
  11. Clock/calendar, and other gadgets – It would be really awesome if Microsoft could already include some of the basic things that the iPod has like, a clock, and calendar, but there could be more. How about gadgets on your Zune? You know, like the gadgets that can already be found on Vista Sidebar, live.com, SideShow, and on lots of other Microsoft stuff? Go to Windows Live Gallery if you want to see what I mean. Make some SDK for developers to dabble with to make gadgets for the Zune. Microsoft could make it’s own gadgets of course, but it never hurt to have 3rd-party developers to bring their own ideas. That would be a really neat platform if Microsoft did that. It will beat the iPod in a big way. Only if the next iPod doesn’t have widgets of whatever.
  12. Delete function within Zune – Not that big to me, but it would be nice to delete pics, songs, videos, and whatever directly from your Zune device, than to wait until you reach your computer. Currently to delete stuff from your Zune, you have to connect to a PC and use the Zune software to manage it.
  13. Mac support – We all know that Microsoft and Apple are rivals. So it would be really hard for Microsoft to make their product work with macs. But they should. Not everybody who uses macs necessarily likes to use the iPod, which sounds hard to believe but is true, and they want other choices, like maybe the Zune. Apple users will fuss and stuff and say that Microsoft’s a big meany for not making good stuff for the mac, just because they’re jealous. Yeah right. Mac is a smaller user base, so it’s not worth investing in, plus it’s a rival. But the mac community is still a community, and Microsoft should make good stuff to work with macs, just to show that Microsoft can make good stuff, and work it with macs too. That’s the better thing to do. The only reason Apple works with PC’s is not because they’re ‘nice’, but only because PC’s have a larger user base, and the iPod (and essentialy Apple) would have died if they didn’t do that. So just play nice with macs, and you’ll make happy users.
  14. eBook + Audiobook support – There are some people who would seriously love this feature. Of course they’ll have to tweak Marketplace, Zune firmware, and other stuff, but it’s great if they could just do that.
  15. Games – Xbox Live anyone? Xbox Live games should be able to work on Zune devices. It would help increase Microsoft’s "Live Anywhere" platform. Would be a smart idea really. Just make it availiable on the Zune software, and not an exclusive to Xbox Live users.
  16. Gapless playback – Want to hear my songs come to me without a break in it. Do that and you’ll make lots of people happy.
  17. Zune as a external harddrive – You know, a USB drive capability for transfers, back-ups, etc.
  18. bookmark feature – in multiple locations like audio files, podcasts, videos, e-books, etc.
  19. use the UI even with the radio on – I would like to listen to the radio, while maybe I’m shifting through the UI to look at photos, maybe gadets, and other stuff, without having to stop the radio just to do that. You can do that with the music section, but not the radio.
  20. FM tagging – tag songs that I hear on the radio so that maybe I could look it up later on Zune Marketplace or wherever.
  21. more usefullness with Wi-Fi – I want to do tons more stuff. I want to buy stuff right on the device. I want to connect wirelessly to my computer and let it sync that way. I want more power with Wi-Fi. Give it to us.
  22. Equlizer manual option – I want to adjust the equalizer setting my way and have more choices to pick from
  23. FM recording and AM radio – I want to be able to record FM audio and listen to AM radio too.
  24. resolution enhancements – so far album art doesn’t look that good, and videos can do better
  25. video and game in Marketplace – I want something more entertaining to do on the Zune
  26. back-lit Zune logo – That would make it look cool
  27. Bluetooth, FM Transmitter – that and many other stuff

That’s pretty much what the Zune should take on improving with. If they can do most or all of that, it would be pretty much the best PMP in the world. I hope somebody actually reads this though. I know it was long, but it’s needs to be put out there.

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