Zune HD

This post is going to be more of a ‘professional’ review than the earlier ‘Thoughts on Zune HD…’ article.  It will contain my thoughts on it now that I own one and can actually review it fully.

To quote the last article, “I’ve been a huge fan of Zune for the last few years. A fan of the software, device, and web presence they’ve created. Now they are looking to integrate things more deeply with the Xbox 360, and also step up the functionality of the device.”

Here are my observations now that I have some time spent with the device.  They are in no particular order.

1.  I decided to skip on waiting for a 64GB model to show up. I waited almost 3 months, and figured it was time to just get one.  What really prompted this was the fact that Amazon has an amazing deal going on.  If you sign up for a year of Audible.com service at $14.95 per month (which totals about $180 for a year) they will give you an instant $100 off coupon.  The catch is that you can’t cancel the Audible.com service for that year.  In total for the Zune itself I paid $186.67 with Next Day delivery.

2.  There are a few UI inconsistencies and things missing from older versions of the Zune.  For instance when performing a sync with the device, there is no percentage listed on the HD.  Earlier models had this, so why is it missing?  Background wallpapers, also MIA.  MS has claimed it won’t work well on the HD & that we get to use them on the lock screen. I say why not give us the option?  I however do retract my earlier issue with having a tactile control interface.  The touch-only option works really well.  The only thing I miss is from the old Zune in that respect is volume control that doesn’t require the screen.

3.  Another oddity I found is that their web browser while nice has some serious issues, even with the Zune.net website.  I tried to post on the forums there and could do everything but enter post in the text box.  I was also unable to ever successfully login to my bank.  I hope they plan on releasing more updates to make the browser more compatible with sites.  Especially in the case of the Zune.net forums, that’s just embarrassing.

4.  Microsoft has stuck with the WiFi only option here, and did not pursue any sort of 3G connection.  This is truly a shame as it would have made the device unique in its market segment, just as the Kindle is for eBook devices.  As I mentioned in the previous article imagine this scenario.  You’re on a bus and hear a song on the HD Radio that you’ve been trying to track down forever, and you buy it or get it on Zune Pass right there.  That to me would be just as powerful an experience as when I bought my first book directly from the Kindle while on a train.  No waiting until you have a WiFi connection, just instant gratification.

5.  So far on the app front, I’m of two minds.  I feel that the apps they have delivered as of the latest 4.3 update are solid apps.  They work very well, and are fun to play in the case of the games.  In fact I’m hooked on the bowling game.  The downside is that almost 3 months in we have barely over a dozen apps, of which only 3 aren’t games.  Where’s a good Netflix app?  Where’s a good app for surfing the XBox Live Marketplace?  What about a 1vs100 interface for the Zune?  I’m certain it could handle it via WiFi.  There’s so much potential here, and so little initiative taken.

6.  The last topic I want to touch on is Digital Copy support..  It’s one thing that Zune has been missing from the beginning, and they really need to sort it out.  I have so many movies with the Digital Copy logo on them, and I can’t even use them.  The Zune doesn’t work with the old ‘PlaysForSure’ format (gotta love that name eh?) and Zune hasn’t made an attempt (at least publicly) to make this work.  I’m fairly certain it has to do with selling videos via the Zune Marketplace.  This is a huge bullet point that the iPod can still tout over the Zune.  I want to watch the new Star Trek movie on my Zune.  The connection where I currently live is only 320k/64k.  Yes it’s very painful, and to be honest makes downloading a movie from the Zune Marketplace very painful.  Why can’t I just authorize my digital copy for the Zune?  It works on Windows Media Player, and hundreds of other devices.  Why should I have to pay for the movie again?

Why, Zune, why?

« »