Is the Zune worth the money?
Are you looking for a new mp3 player?
Then you NEED to read this.
With the release of the Zune announced, there has been a lot of questions about it. And, after my 256MB iRiver mp3 player quit on me, I had to make a decision. To buy or not to buy? See, I'm looking for a good deal as much as the next guy, but to shell out $150 for an mp3 player I know absolutely nothing about is crazy!
I've written this guide for anyone planning to a buy the Microsoft 30GB Zune. If you are taking the time to browse on eBay and spend YOUR money, then you deserve to know if whether or not the Zune is actually worth it. I'm going to give an in-depth review of a Zune that I personally own.
Is it better than the Ipod? Is the software reliable? How does it look? What features does it have?
I will try to keep it brief, but I've compiled a list of 7 things that I believe to be the most important about the Zune (good and bad).
1. Sound Quality
The sound quality of the Zune is excellent. I've had three previous mp3 players (all iRiver) and the sound is just as good as, if not better, than all of them. Now, I'm not an expert on all the technical details of the Zune, but the one thing I do know is that I like what I hear when I put in my headphones. And, when you're looking for a good mp3 player, isn't this the most important aspect?
The standard stock headphones that come with the Zune are OK for listening. But, when I bought my Zune, I was lucky enough to receive the travel pack as an additional bonus. So, keep in mind, when I'm talking about the sound quality of the Zune I'm talking about it with my premium headphones. Either way, the sound is great. You shouldn't have to worry about this at all.
2. Screen Size / Pixels
In my opinion, the screen size of the Zune is just right. It certainly doesn't appear too small, and, at the same time, doesn't seem too big. I really like the fact that you can turn the Zune horizontally for viewing movies and pictures. It seems natural to just turn it sideways and I give full credit to Microsoft for this clever design.
As far as resolution and pixels are concerned, it looks fine to me. The album art, pictures, and movies... they look sharp and clear. I mean, it's not perfect by any means, but unless you're extremely paranoid about your pictures I think you'll find that it looks good on the Zune.
At first, before I updated my Zune online, the album art was in a low resolution and looked blurry. But, as of this writing, Zune has already come out with an update to fix this. So now the album art looks better than ever in high resolution!
3. Battery Life / Backlight
I think I remember reading that the battery life of the Zune is somewhere around 10 or 11 hours. I guess I wouldn't know, though, because I've never run out power. Your Zune automatically charges when you have it plugged into a computer. And, when I'm not using it, my Zune is normally just hooked up to my computer. So, in other words, you should never have to worry about battery life as long as you plug it into your computer once in a while. It takes about 3 hours (using the USB cable & computer) for a full re-charge.
The backlight of the Zune is very bright. It has three settings: high, medium, and low. I tried out all three settings and just decided to leave it at low. Even on the low backlight setting I can see everything clearly in complete darkness. The backlighting of the Zune is very effective and impressed me.
4. Scrolling Functions / Song Management
The scrolling function of the Zune is...well... I'll just say it gets the job done. Personally, I enjoy the Ipod more just for the simple fact that it's more fun to use. The Ipod uses a touch sensitive wheel to scroll through songs, while the Zune has a click-wheel along with a back button. The click-wheel has a middle button and a surrounding circle used for up, down, left, and right. At first, it seemed awkward to me to use a "back" button, but after only a couple minutes of using it I really didn't mind it at all.
On the Zune, everything is organized by album, artist, songs, etc. And, after loading mine with 15 GB of music, I have no troubles getting to the song I want to hear. It only takes a couple of seconds to browse through all the categories and get to where you want. I am very pleased with how quickly I can find what I need.
5. Personalized Background
Now, this probably isn't the MOST important feature, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I had some fun playing around with the settings and placing different pictures as my background. It's very easy to add a picture to the Zune and set it as a wallpaper (very similar to how you do it on a cell phone). Also, when a song doesn't have any album art, your personalized background is displayed instead of a black screen. Very nice!
6. Wireless Option
The wireless option of the Zune, to me, is pretty much worthless. Now, as far as transferring files wirelessly from your computer, I can see some value in that. Yet, I just stick with using cables because it's way faster and much more reliable. I haven't even tried using the wireless feature of my Zune with my friends yet. I'm the only one in my school with a Zune, so I really can't use it to share songs.
7. Zune Software
Here it comes...THE BAD! What a headache! It took me practically 5 hours to set up my Zune for the first time on my computer. Now, as I remember, Microsoft wanted this Zune to be "user friendly". What a joke! Let me explain.
First, I installed the software included on the CD of the Zune. Simple enough. Then it prompted me to update my software. Simple enough. Then it tried to auto-sync my entire music collection. AHH! This is where the problems began. The Zune software (version 2.2) had many glitches and crashed numerous times. To top it off, it ruined all my album art and starting syncing everything as "unknown artist" and "unknown album". Are you kidding?!
So, after hours of frustration, I went online searching for some solution. And all I found out was that I wasn't alone. Many people have been complaining about the new Zune software Microsoft released. It just isn't reliable and wrecks music collections.
But, with all that said, I finally got it to work. I would highly recommend to turn off all auto-syncing features on your computer. Also, keep your library organized and go through it yourself. Do things manually right away and you will be much happier. If you keep it simple, the software works fine and songs speedily load onto the Zune.
The only way you will really know if you like the Zune or not is to actually try it for yourself. That's why I would highly recommend giving it a try if you're serious about getting a good mp3 player for the long run.
I think the pros far outweigh the cons, and I'm glad I decided to shell out some cash to get my Zune. The Zune itself is wonderful, and the only reason I had some disappointment was because of the goofy software. And, if you think about it, the software is going to be constantly updated and I'm sure Microsoft will take care of any issues. I'm confident that if you buy a Zune, you'll have no problem with keeping it.
If you found this helpful, feel free to paste a link to it in your eBay postings!
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