Thursday, July 19, 2007

Zune boons

Well, I've had my Zune for a couple weeks now (something like that). First impressions:


  • The "black" one is a nice charcoal color with blue accents. I like it a little better than the black iPods.
  • The screen is great.
  • The UI is overall good; it's very similar to my old Portable Media Center, and I like it a little better than the iPod UI.
  • The Zune software is pretty good.
  • The charging cable and the PC sync cable is... the same cable! If you want to use the AC adapter, you plug the sync cable into the adapter's USB port.
  • I got it at a discount.
  • The wireless sharing is kind of neat.
  • I love the fact that I can customize the device's wallpaper.


  • It's nearly impossible to operate the device when it's in your pocket. I could control everything about my previous player when it was in my pocket, but the Zune has a near-smooth surface with iPod-like buttons you can't easily operate when not looking at the device, and certainly not through the fabric of your pants. This is the worst downside in my opinion.
  • The battery life is abysmal—just a few hours per charge, even with wireless sharing off. My old player had bad battery life too, but this one was advertised at 9. I'm going to do a test this weekend, and if it's half as bad as it appears to be, I'll go bonk some heads.
  • The Zune software is pretty much exactly the same as Windows Media Player, but it's not. They're separate apps with almost identical features, but separate libraries.
  • Capacity is low—only 30GB.

Overall, I can't say I really recommend for or against the device versus the iPod, though that is, in a way, praise. I think it's a fine iPod alternative, but the iPod has all the accessories in the world, and if you aren't getting a company discount on the Zune, it seems there's little reason to go for one. The Zune software is nicer than iTunes, and the wireless sharing feature is cool, but realistically, you're not going to be sharing too many songs with all of those other Zune owners you're constantly running into. If it were priced just a little bit lower, I'd have gone for the 80GB iPod instead, and been able to carry all of my music with me... but 30GB at least allows a pretty sizeable subset.


Matthew Johnson said...

Wow, I didn't realize the Zune battery life was that bad. I usually get at least 10 hours out of my Creative Zen Vision:M.

Unknown said...

I get about 16 with my Cowon A2. I get longer life playing video on mine than you do playing music.

Travis said...

Well, the behavior I'm seeing isn't normal. Independent tests have put the average battery life at 7-8 hours, which is pretty close to the advertised 8-9. Either I'm using it more than I think, or I have a bad unit.

Unknown said...

It depends a lot on how you use it. Do you change songs manually a lot? That turns the screen back on and hurts the battery life.

Travis said...

Not a lot. Maybe a couple times an hour, and also changing volume and pausing/unpausing a couple times an hour. Certainly nothing that should put me below video playback levels of battery life. I also set the backlight to only stay on for a few seconds.

Unknown said...

I noticed an increase battery life after purchasing the wall adapter. I really don't think that the usb gives it the same charge.

Travis said...

I'm using the wall adapter to charge.