On the way home from work last night, my music suddenly stopped playing. I removed my Zen Portable Media Center from my pocket only to see something I'd seen once before... something I dreaded: the Cartoon Screen of Death.
I know this screen: it was the last thing I saw before I had to send it in for warranty repair after a few months of owning this thing about two and a half years ago. As you might tell from the picture, it means that the device is irreparably damaged and will never start again without repairs.
I tried several things, like charging overnight, opening it up and using the hard reset switch, taking out the batteries, and so forth, but just like last time, no luck. Well, the thing is three years old, scratched up, and behind the times, so it's not worth the $100-200 I'd probably pay minimum to get it fixed. So, it's time to get a new portable player.
It's looking like the Zune kind of wins by default. I get a slight discount at the company store, and I can leave my office for about 15 minutes and have one in my possession. I was looking at the tiny 2 GB Creative Zen Stone Plus for only about $70, the sexy U20 iRiver Clix, and the new 30GB model of the Toshiba Gigabeat, all rated highly and not available anywhere. I am quite addicted to listening to music on the way to and from work, I am very motivated to get a new player now, so that Zune is looking pretty appealing. I was also looking at the iPod 80GB, which has the added bonuses of being able to store my entire music collection and would let me play Cubis those three times a year when I would feel like playing a game on my music player. So would the Creative Zen Vision:M, but I've used a Zen before and it was as fun as being stabbed with needles. I decided that being able to have all of my music with me at all times wasn't worth the extra premium; for the price of a large-capacity player I could get two Zunes. And then, uh, share songs between them.
So, I think I'm going to get a Zune tomorrow. A nice black one. It's not my top choice of player, but people I know who have them enjoy them, and it will certainly be a nice upgrade from my current player at four times the size and two-thirds the capacity.
Last song started before my old Zen PMC kicked the bucket: Keane—Atlantic