*notcot in tech , 17:25

Not Your Usual Zune Review- 01.30.08

zune1.jpgSecret: after CES, i kind of wanted to love the Zune. Well i got curious enough to want to play with one at least… they’ve been doing great things with the arts community (i really do love those crazy Zune Arts animations - and their artist collaborations for Zune designs are fun), they’ve been supporters of NOTCOT with advertising, and the packaging/design details/UI were intriguing… i really do like the font they use on their main interface, and the way it glows as you scroll around! But sadly, much like the ratings option they give you… i’m going to have to rate the experience so far with a ‘broken-heart’… i’m not even sure what that means? Is it that i no longer love the song? Basically i’m completely behind on posts today b/c i had to delve into the painful world of windows - which for this Zune i actually tried to give a second chance. I blew through one dell xp laptop, and had to move on to a tiny sony vista machine before i was able to even get it to let me play a song. Anyhow, more on all of that below… but while i spent ages installing, etc, i fell in love with the design details and packaging… particularly the Zune Premium Headphones. See many pics of the packaging and headphone details ~ as well as the CES Zune section with all the artists pieces up after the jump!!!

The unboxing was pretty sweet ~ i love the way the box opens, and that are smaller boxes inside for the USB cable and standard headphones ~ something about all the matte black boxes with crazy pink-orange gradient insides that was subtle yet surprising everytime… not that i’m a big pink fan whatsoever, but the splash of color amidst the matte black made me smile.
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Although a bit apple like… still cute that it says ‘Hello from Seattle”
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Here are the Zune Premium Headphones ~ i’m loving them so far. They are magnetic! (so they get less tangled in the case?) ~ instead of the usual rubbery coating, they are like a mini climbing rope! Nice little zune logos and their favorite pattern… a nicely designed simple brown magnetic carrying case with that Zune pattern INSIDE on the lining… and a cute tiny cord wrapper (looks like a little pink hair elastic)… also they come with the standard various sized ear buds for your comfort.
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I was amazed with the attention to detail on this little gadget (that may be far too easy to lose! or launch somewhere?) ~ with tiny logo and grab tag, it is an interesting solution to the cord mess situation.
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Tried to get you a picture of the interior, and then gave up and also just flipped it inside out…
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On the headphone packaging there was this bizarre warning sticker about not turning the volume up too much? But is that an ipod nano in a book? What’s that mean? Read the manual?
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Adorable, and slightly sad, the rating option on the zune gives you three options… blank, heart, and broken heart!
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Here’s the Zune Originals gallery section of the Microsoft CES booth…
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Here’s a close up of NOTCOT friend, Catalina Estrada!
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On more artist variations, they even have a special series of Valentine’s Day Zune options…
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Oh, and as for why today took FOREVER? Well beyond having fun with the packaging and accessories they sent over… i can’t stand that out of the box, i can’t even use the RADIO before plugging it in. And why can’t they make this Mac compatible? Its a really pretty UI and UX within the ZUNE itself, but as soon as you involve the software and windows side of things, the experience got heinous quickly. First i borrowed a win XP dell laptop, it froze up a few times on the install of Zune player, and then froze up on the uninstall, then refused to install cleanly b/c there was a previous install… ARGH. So then on to the next laptop, grabbed a tiny sony vista laptop, and luckily it finally installed, updated the zune, let the zune free so i could at least poke at it… but then came trying to transfer music/podcasts to it, and the Zune player is one of the worst experiences… although relatively pretty for what it is, the usability studies seem to have been skipped. Dragging songs didn’t actually bring the music on, podcasts weren’t happy syncing, it was difficult to tell where i was in the process… click on an error link to a webpage that would explain the error took me to pages where it says “summary : unfortunately, there is no specific web help message for this error yet.” But now that i have some music and podcasts to test out on it after a few hours, its a pleasant experience when i don’t try to connect to anything. And i do LOVE that it has radio! And radio that even shows you what is playing, if that information is available. Anyhow, that is where my whole day seems to have gone… so perhaps i’ll update this again after playing with it for a while.

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11 Notes

I have a Zune and I love it. I got my Zune in August and have not had a problem with it yet. The reason that I got one was because of the features that it included that the ipod did not have. When I sync my Zune to my computer it is always updating my software and it even added games for free! I am not exactlly sure of how the ipod works because I have never had one but I have never really been a fan of apple. I do believe that Microsoft should advertise a little better because it is great!

----- Ke Ke 01.12.08 16:54

I’m not knocking the Zune- but I have yet to see one in public. I work in film/video production in NYC, and we get A LOT of 2D and 3D animators/ designers. No Zunes. Worse- we did one of the Zune commercials. The guys who did it never touched one (i asked). I ride the subways all the time. No Zunes. I’m still looking out for them. I loved my iPod Touch and now my iPhone, but I’d just have to say the Zune has a long way to go for that critical mass. And what’s with that Zune tattoo guy? who’s marketing idea was that?

----- Johnnie 25.08.08 19:31

Good writeup and amazing photography, thanks for sharing! I have a Zune too and I love it, it’s worked great for me so far.

----- zuneaccessoryguy 29.07.08 13:59

I am looking to buy a new mp3 and am looking at the Zume. I am wondering if you can answer a few questions I have like, can you delete a song from the player or do you have to sync up the the computer to do that,(like my old mp3),and can I use the music I already own or do i have to buy it from one of the online music stores, and 1 more can you see the play list when you sync so u can delete 1 song instead of the whole list and have to add everything again minus the 1 song you decide you can’t stand.
Thanks
Heather
memphis,tn

----- heather 25.06.08 15:30

i just found out that you can add lil charms on it!

----- Keya 09.03.08 18:08

I’ve had a Zune ever since they first came out, and while it’s really hard to handle the software at first, one does get very used to it in time. I’ve installed and used it on 4 computers so far, and it’s only frozen on one. It really depends on the particular computer.
The Zunes themselves aren’t entirely free from error too, though admittedly mine is one of the very first so it’s probably a bit more buggy than the newer ones. Mine occasionally freezes when attempting to play a song it hasn’t played in a while, though given some time it will unfreeze itself.
After seeing this, I might have to go buy myself a new one…

----- Lee 31.01.08 13:07

I have had a Zune for a couple months so far, and absolutely love it. I did not experience any of the setup problems you had, but I installed it on a machine I built with a clean copy of Vista (OEMs suck). The interface could use some improvement. The search needs to be updated and the marketplace needs more community features (e.g. community playlists). The big difference maker for me was the subscription service. I listen to a lot more music than before.

----- Matt 31.01.08 11:24

I have an 80gb zune and i love it. but then again iv never had a mac so i dont understand what all the fuss is about. i love everything about it- all the movies on that big screen, pictures look great on it and it holds uh lot….but i wish i could take those pesky preloaded media files offa there. (without disturbing what i do want on it)any idears?

----- Leah 31.01.08 06:42

As for the Zune player being clumsy and sluggish you must realize that iTunes was once the same way, unfortunately for most, Microsoft is designing new software for new PC’s and the PC’s of the next few years. I had a similar problem connecting my first gen Zune to my Vaio laptop that is three years old but running Vista. It was not a pleasant experience but it got the job done. Now with my three month old quad core desktop the player runs like a dream and Ive actually found it to be much easier to synch videos than it is for me to synch my Ipod with my iTunes. I’m glad to see the new Zunes looking so slick too.

----- Matt Powell 30.01.08 21:20

Melissa ~ I really hope it does change, and microsoft realizes how much they could truly appeal to many of the art/design loving mac users! And i fully agree, there’s a lot of little zune details i certainly wouldn’t mind my ipods having! I suppose with bootcamp, we can at least run windows within the mac, but keeping multiple playlists, etc in general just seems silly.

----- notcot 30.01.08 19:14

as you’ve noted: zune is a PC only media player. do you think that this will ever change and a mac-friendly zune will be introduced? while it’s true that i love my ipod, there are a lot of specs/features of the zune that i can’t help but envy.

----- melissa 30.01.08 18:46

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