21 January 2009

10 Days with the Zune

In a previous post, I mentioned that I got a Microsoft Zune media player for my birthday. I've struggled with it a bit, but every device has a learning curve, so I haven't let that discourage me. I'm not one to write detailed tech reviews, but I want to share my impressions thus far.

First, let me start off with the positives.

--I am very happy with the form factor of the device itself. It is thin enough to tuck into my bra, which I do a lot when working around the house (I can't do that with my Centro). The scroll pad is responsive without being too touchy.

--The main menu is clean and crisp with no funky icons. You can leave the background black or add a add some artwork behind the menu.

--I truly enjoy having an FM tuner as part of my device. I don't have a lot of music to load onto my iPod, so once I've listened to my podcasts for the day I like having the option to switch over to the radio.

--The battery life is great! I get through my entire 8.5 hour day without having to recharge. I couldn't do that with my Treo or my Centro.

As much as I am enjoying my Zune, though, there are some negatives. In my opinion, the main problems have to do with the software used to load the device. The software slows my computer down significantly, so if I am syncing the Zune I can't do much else. It is also slow to respond when I click on something, which is a shame because there is a lot of clicking to do. I get that Microsoft was going for something that doesn't look like an iTunes ripoff, but it feels like everything is on a separate page. The podcast directory isn't very robust, either. I ended up having to port subscriptions over from iTunes because I couldn't find the shows in the Zune Marketplace.

There are functions of the Zune that seem cool, but I haven't had a reason to try them. The Zune Social is basically a social network, and I have no reason to join another one of those. You can access the Marketplace via wi-fi, but that function is only for buying songs and I don't buy music. The wireless syncing doesn't make sense in my situation because you have to have the computer with the desktop software turned on. If I am that close to my laptop, then I can just plug in the cable.

All in all, I am happy with my Zune. Most of the things that bug me won't be much of a problem now that I have all my podcasts set up; I can just sync and go. Hopefully, future incarnations of the software will run more smoothly because the hardware is already there.
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