Thursday, January 04, 2007

Zune Day 2

I finally got my Zune yesterday and have been using it non-stop ever since. Here are some observations;

UI - Slick slidey zoomey fadey menus like an XBOX, no surprise since the XBOX team built this gadget.

Looks - I got the white one, looks like a sandblasted glass block, painted on the inside, translucent and classy. Great looking screen, super bright and viewable from all angles.

Usability - With only 3 buttons, it's really simple and easy to get used to. Not having a scroll wheel is not great but actually drives quicker once you get used to it because the UI is so smooth.

Software - Here's the weak spot, it's more or less like iTunes but a little rougher around a couple of edges. It tried to sync my entire library upon installation - a big no-no. I haven't figured out what's the best way to sync stuff although I have been creating playlists and syncing them no sweat. No biggie so far but it seems to be made by default for all or nothing syncing. Also when I installed the software, I got some weird rundll32 errors but everything is working fine.

Video Playback - The videos that came preloaded look great, the screen is excellent. I dropped a couple of video on it and they played back no probs. My DIVX/XVID avi's don't convert automatically so this is a bit of a drag but I'm sure some tools/plugins will be out soon. There's this youtube to zune converter plugin out already for easy scrapes if you want to stock up on menthos vids.

So would I recommend it? Yes, I'd give it an 8/10 where my Rio was a 7.5 and the iPod is a 7. It's nicer to use than an iPod and the videos are way cleaner, brighter and bigger. The reason that I can't stand the iPod is because I can't really stand being tied into a single source proprietary ecosystem. I won't ever buy a Zune pass (at least I don't think I will) but I do buy CDs from Amazon, rip them and then play them on pretty much any computer, laptop, MP3 player, car stereo, CD player, DVD player or clock radio that's close by. Even with WMA files, they play everywhere, everywhere that is except for an iPod. With iTunes/AAC, I'm stuck in barrel.

iTunes reminds me of AOL of old, it's a great place to live if you don't mind being jailed in a walled garden. Zune is a walled garden too but most of the gates are open.

Oh yeah, one more thing - you can upgrade to 80GB pretty easily if you wanted to.