Zune Review

By on 8/23/2008

I recently acquired a Zune and I wanted to write about my experiences with it.  Disclaimer: I got the Zune using the "MVP Bucks" that I received from my recent MVP Award.  While I may have gotten this essentially for free, this is not a paid review and reflects only my experiences with the product :-)

Overall, I'd say that I'm fairly happy with the Zune so far ... aside from a few nagging issues.

  • Zune Software/Marketplace
    • The same xbox live gamertag/account is used for the Zune along with the same microsoft point system.  This was pretty convenient because I can use the same account settings to add points ... and if I add points on the xbox, they are usable for zune content.
    • The social aspect of the zune marketplace is, to me, very compelling.  I really like being able to see what some of my friends are listening to ... I've already purchased a few songs just because I saw someone else play it.
    • Some of the songs are offered in DRM-free MP3 format.  I hope this is a trend that continues because I would gladly pay for the music ... but would definitely like the freedom of taking my purchase with me if I ever decide to stop using the Zune.
    • I love that I can buy a song on the website, and the next time I launch the zune software it will automatically download.  Hopefully Microsoft can take this concept to the XBox.
  • Podcasts
    • This is by far the best part of my zune experience so far.  The sync features is *awesome*.  I can subscribe to a podcast, and then based on the subscription settings in the zune software the podcast will automatically be synched to the zune.  After I listen to it, it will automatically be removed and the next one loaded onto the device.  Awesome!
  • Wireless
    • Social ... I know one person that has a zune (which now goes unused due to his recent iPhone purchase).  He brought it in and we swapped a couple of songs over the wireless connection.  Pretty cool I guess.
    • You can sync over the wifi network, would be awesome if I had a desktop, aside from that, meh.  Seemed to kill the battery as well.
  • Bugs
    • All has unfortunately not been rosy in the kingdom of the zune.  I've already come across some randomly intermittent 404s when trying to add microsoft points to my account and a few other parts of the zune website.  They cleared up pretty quickly though so it's not a huge deal.
    • More disturbing though has been the hardware issues.  A week or two back, the zunepad stopped working.  After getting pretty frustrated, some googling revealed that I could wipe the device clean from the zune software, which would reboot it.  This did seem to work and I was able to resync all my content.
    • A few days ago, the play/pause button stopped working all of a sudden.  So far, no combination of rebooting or clearing the content has seemed to bring the functionality back.  I'm probably going to have to call support and see if they can replace it (assuming it's under warranty, which I imagine it is)

So overall, I've got a fairly positive feeling on the zune (assuming my hardware issues can be resolved) ... am excited to see what Microsoft's next plans are for the platform, especially as it relates to XNA!

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