Monday, November 20, 2006

Welcome to ZunePh

Last November 14, 2006. Microsoft unveiled their own version of an iPod. It has a larger screen, scratchless exterior, and the feature that everyone is talking about - Wireless connectivity (though for me, it's still a dud)

Microsoft's entrance into the mp3 player market has had the market talking. Having established players like Apple, Creative and Sandisk (Sansa). Microsft bullish entrance into the already saturated portable player market posted many criticisms and praises.

Some talked about Microsoft abandoning it's PlaysforSure initiative that it started itself to promote co-usage of legally bought mp3's in, for example, Real Networks Rhapsody, or Napster's online services. In the Zune, everything is scrapped. Even Microsoft's own MSN Music stopped selling music on the day of the zune launch opting to shift to the new and "easier" place to buy music-- the Zune Marketplace. Just one of the many new things Microsoft has prepared for it's full throttle into the world of PMP's

What about the Zune

I've been reading the reviews in almost all the sites you can name. (Gizmodo, Engadget, PC Mag, Arstechnica, Amazon, Zune fansites, bloggers) all of which have great reviews of the Zune.

Some reviews ( CNN, NY Times, and other bloggers) have also taken the shot on this so called "iPod-killer" (a commonly used term for any new products challenging the more stable and popular product.) Critics point out the zune's very poor, brick-like design weighs more, is larger that the same 30gb iPod, and some discouraging restrictions on the sharing experience especially the 3 plays for 3 days. I admit, it just doesn't get it off the ground, a very stupid move from a product that brands itself as a "social" player. (blame DRM on that one.)

For me, it really is a downside to share mp3's and have that 3 plays or 3 days (which ever comes first) limit. It's for ALL songs, even those you compose and share, even non-DRMed ones. I hope future updates could remove that.

Since I can't use the Zune Marketplace here in the Philippines, it won't be a problem for me. I just bought the player...for well..just for the player. I don't think i'll be sharing and swapping songs with anyone just yet..coz, in case you didn't know, wifi sharing only happens when there's another zune around. So wifi features and marketplace is no use to me...just yet.

For me, it's the potential of this player that got me. It's still no iPod killer - yet. Microsoft is known for getting things right in it's 2nd Generation and updates. Look at Xbox 360.

Why I chose Zune:

Having a large screen is the first thing that got me. Bright, Large (Larger is definitely much better.) The resolution is just the same as iPod's yet the way it was designed (vertically and actually just an inch long against iPod's screen) made it look big.

Wireless Features
The wireless features opens up potential features for this device. At the present you can only share pictures and songs wirelessly. No videos at this time although Steve Ballmer in an interview hinted a future firmware update that includes video sharing. Future potentials of the wifi feature could be:
  1. over-the-air downloads of songs, videos and images.
  2. wireless updates through your wifi-capable PC's and laptops
  3. Internet connectivity (why not?)
  4. Expect hacks from zunesters after 2 months..hehe!
  5. Potential updates are always on the way from Microsoft.
Function and Interface
It's no touch-wheel but still, present users found zune easier to navigate than iPod's. They noted that Zune's click-wheel made accessing menu's easier and faster. since you have a 4 directional keys integrating into the interface very well.

For the interface. Wallpaper customization, Larger album art. Smooth transitions. those are far more superior than iPod's. Period.

The Zune's coating is that of a matte finish.(I have not yet held one, but from the pictures, you can just feel it.. hehe). It's made of plastic and therefore not easily scratches unlike those of iPod's. then there is that double-shot colors that impresses me most. For the brown zune, a green glow outlines the front of the player which creates a glowing effect which makes it look even cooler. For the Black one, it's a light blue glow, then for the white, a faded/opaque white.

Apple's iPod is cool (I have a nano), but Zune is the new and fresh thing now, having features that Apple would surely emulate in their next iPod release.

There are setbacks from the Zune device at the present which some of it can be addressed by future firmware updates. I hope Apple fanboys would take time to look at this device rather than downplaying it without even holding or experiencing one just because it is from Microsoft. errr...Am I right?

I'll manage to write a review after I get to hold on one...which hopefully, arrives by end of the month. I just hope that by that time, the 2nd Gen Zune still hasn't come out..

(I'll have a Black Zune. yey!)

Will post a review soon!
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