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3rd generation "Microsoft Zune", to buy or not to buy?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by Jelle Mees, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Jelle Mees

    Jelle Mees New Member

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    Microsoft Zune 120GB Review by 'Jelle Mees'.

    [​IMG]

    If you want a high-quality portable mediaplayer with a lot of storage for a reasonable price, then you have two options at the moment. The "Ipod Classic 120GB" from Apple and the "Zune 120GB" from Microsoft. But wich one is the best choice for someone who doesn't care about the brand, but about the product-features? Continue reading and you will find out...

    In this review I will compare the Zune 120GB with Apple and Creative products.


    A "Zune"?

    Microsoft released the first Zune products in Q4 2006. Microsoft wanted to compete with the Apple iPod by releasing a simular product with wireless capabilities. The Zune firmware was pretty terrible from the start and I can honestly say that the current firmware on the Zune still can't compete with the firmware on Apple and Creative products.

    First Impression

    The Zune looks and feels great. It looks like a high-quality expensive product. Without reading the manual I turned on the device. The device booted very fast ( much faster then the Creative products I've tested so far ), all I had to do is press and hold down the 'Play' button and I could start browsing the menus immediately. The menu's are easy,simpel and they load instantly.

    The Design

    I already mentioned that the Zune looks and feels great. But in my opinion, there are a couple of design-flaws. The "Lock" switch is to flat and because of that it's not easy to lock and unlock the buttons. The screensize is ok, the screen has really nice colors, the biggest view-angle I've ever seen....but it's not a widescreen! It's strange that Microsoft still doesn't have a single widescreen mediaplayer well knowing that both Creative and Apple do.

    The Controls

    Even though the menu's are fast, easy-to-use and simpel, I am not a big fan of the menu's. There are only 3 "buttons" on the Zune. A back button, a pause/play button and the Touch-Control. Don't get fooled by the name. Yes, you can operate the Zune by touch but you can disable the touch-feature if you prefere clicking up,down,left,right instead of sliding your finger over the touch-pad.

    The Software

    Horrible, absolutely horrible. Microsoft tries to copy Apple but they should take a look at Creative. Because Creative is #1 at the moment when it comes to device-software. And I am not talking about the buy/wireless features. Honestly, how many people actually buy songs and how many of them actualy use the wireless features on the Zune device. Maybe 1/100 people that buy it?

    I remember using the Creative Zen Vision W. ( still the best portable mediaplayer in my opinion ) First of all, the devide didn't require any software. You can just plug it in with USB and put files in the audio/video/image folders. Drag and drop and voila you can view it all on your player. If you do decide to install the software, it makes browsing and syncing so much easyer and not harder and slower. Creative also provides a nice and fast converting tool while Microsoft doesn't provide anything decent.

    The reason why Microsoft doesn't bundle a nice conversion-tool and why there is no drag-and-drop is because the Zune ONLY supports a couple video and audio formats, but not the ones a lot of people use. Unlike the Creative Zen players, the Zune does not support DivX and Xvid. So basicly you're screwed if you are used to the "dragging and dropping" that can easely be done on Creative players. Microsoft wants to sell video's with MarketPlace, and providing DivX and Xvid support would actually encourage people to download movies from illegal sources.

    The firmware

    The firmware ( current version is 3.0 ) is pretty cool. This is the first Zune product I've ever tested so I didn't experience the pain people experienced with older firmware. 3.0 still doesn't have a freakin equalizer. A 250$ product, released in 2008 and it does not have an equalizer? Come on, I know people with a 25$ MP3-players that have equalizers. Microsoft claims that their polls reveiled that most people don't care about EQ-settings, and that might be true, but that's no good reason for not adding it to the devices.

    There is one really nice and unique feature in the latest firmware. I was listening to the radio and I was able to buy the song that was playing on the radio. I really hope that more stations team-up with Microsoft because this is a feature I might actually use again some day.

    Becides the fact that the Zune players still don't have an equalizer, and that the Zune has a couple of wireless features, there really isn't that much to talk about.

    The Mediaquality

    Audio

    The audioquality is amazing. I've had the latest Ipods and the Creative Zen X-Fi players in my hands and there is one thing I can say for sure. Microsoft is #1 in audio-quality. Low-bitrate songs do sound a little bit better ont the X-Fi players but 192kb/s or higher sound amazing on the Zune 120GB!

    The earbuds are really good. No mather how loud your volume-setting is, the quality remains the same. It's a fact that the same can be sad about the Ipods and the Creative Zens but if I am not mistaking, Ipods and Creative players can not go as loud as the Zune but keep in mind that those players do have equalizers and the Zune doesn't.

    Video

    Beatifull, absolutely beatifull. The image-quality is better then on the Creative Zen Vision W and it's better then on the Ipod Touch. Compared to the Ipod Classic the screen is also bigger. Like I already mentioned, the view-angle is huge, eaven though it's a little screen, nothing will stop you from showing pictures to friends sitting right next to you.

    Ipod Classic 120GB or Zune 120GB?

    For a lot of people the Apple logo and the fact iPods have equalizers is enough to go for the iPod. At the moment both the iPod Classic 120GB and the Zune 120GB can be found for 250$. But if you are not an apple-fanboy, and you usually don't change EQ-settings and/or all your music is the same genre/bitrate then you might want to look at the following list.

    What makes the Zune 120GB better then the iPod Classic 120GB?
    - Wi-Fi
    - Wireless File Sharing
    - Wireless MP3 Shop
    - Wireless Sync
    - FM Tuner
    - Buy songs from FM Tuner
    - Preloaded Games
    - Custom Background Option
    - Bigger Screen ( 3.2" vs 2.5" )
    - Higher Video out Resolution ( 720x576 vs 640x480 )
    - Tactile + Touch Control
    - Unlimited Music Downloads for 15$/month!
    - Social Networking ( don't get to exited about this )
    - .wma support

    I wich Creative had a decent 120GB product because when it comes to media-devices they are the best. But for now, I would recommend the Microsoft Zune and not the Ipod Classic.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If Microsoft wants to beat Apple and Creative they have to:
    - Add DIVX,XVID,OGG support
    - Enable "Drag and Drop"
    - Work on the converting interface
    - Add Zoom & Aspect Ratio settings on the device
    - Add an Equalizer on the device
    - Release the devices at the same time all over the world, Europeans don't like the "Fuck Europe, USA first marketing"

    But it's unlikely that Microsoft will actually be smart enough to come up with these easy solutions...
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
    oli_ramsay says thanks.
  2. Jelle Mees

    Jelle Mees New Member

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    Today ( 29-sep-2008 ) I have to return the Zune because:
    - Songs start playing and timer stays at 0:00.
    - Fast-forward always starts from 0.00 ( even when you're already at 2:24 for example )
    - Rewind-button doesn't rewind the song but rewinds 10 tracks a second
    - 7 dead pixels!
     
    phanbuey says thanks.
  3. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    wow... what an awesome product.
     
  4. Jelle Mees

    Jelle Mees New Member

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    I have the iPod classic now. No bugs or issues so far but the firmware is so freakin sympel.
    I can name at least 20 features that many other ( cheaper ) players have...

    Now I know for a fact that you pay for the Apple logo, and not for the product features...
     
  5. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    I have a first Gen Zune, or rather my Girlfriend does, and I can say it is a very solid product.

    Don't count on the drag and drop ever becoming popular, I loved it on a lot of the 3rd part players, but I have found it just confuses the less computer savvy people. Most prefer the use of software to sync over drag and drop. And I found that the Zune software does a pretty good job of syncing music.

    The lack of DivX/Xvid support is disappointing, but nothing that kills the deal for me. Though with mine only having 30GB, I don't have a whole lot of room for movies anyway. The 120GB version would probably be a different story.
     
    Crunching for Team TPU 50 Million points folded for TPU
  6. Jelle Mees

    Jelle Mees New Member

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    The Ipod Classic crashed already and when you google for it you will see that the device crashes quite often. The good thing is that it's easy to reset.
     
  7. Grasshopper New Member

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    I'm going to get myself Creative Zen Vision M 30GB. Anyone have experience with those?
     
  8. SK-1

    SK-1

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    In a Galaxy Far Far...you know the rest.
    Dropped iPod from about 6 feet to berber carpet with padding,...Ipod died?
    Dropped Zune from about 11 feet on to gravel sidewalk...Zune laughed and said is that all u got?
    Mine is the 2nd gen.
     
  9. iStink

    iStink New Member

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    Would you say the ipod touch 16gb 2nd gen is worth the 300 normally asked for it?
     
  10. DrPepper

    DrPepper The Doctor is in the house

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    I swapped my ipod touch for a nano because it wasn't really that good, E.g the battery would run out after about a couple of hours of music .... Wifi is off etc brightness to a minimum. Second I hate having to take it out my pocket if I want to change song. The apps are fun but useless.
     
  11. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    I have a RCA $25 mp3 player that uses a AAA battery and has a USB thingy built in... it also has radio (whoo technology...) oddly enough, i use it more than i use my nano. - the thing is... i can punt this, attach it to my heychain cuz its so small, and never worry about it.

    and it plays music for me at the gym...

    i think the Apple is on the right track with the iPhone. When i go out, and i want music, i dont wanna carry around a zune (or ipod), a phone, wallet and car keys (and for some people camera) - because my pants look like i have cancers growing out of my legs. God forbid i put a pack of gum in there too... and theyre not even tight pants! No wonder you see dudes with purses.

    Its like master shake with the E-helmet... (end of rant)

    i cant wait till others follow suit and make a true phone/camera/media player/PDA which is affordable and doesnt require me to purchase anything from AT&T. Otherwise i would have to buy a purse, which is unnaceptable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2008
  12. oli_ramsay

    oli_ramsay

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    I just got a little Zen Stone Plus because:

    A- size, it's tiny and has a built in battery so u don't have to carry around spares, plus you don't have to take it out of you pocket to change track
    B- Price, only £45 for 4GB, bargain
    C- features, Has radio, built in speaker, clock (which is handy when you don't have your phone with you), microphone, customisable EQ
    D- Sound quality, very crisp and clear unlike my previous cheapo player from eBay.
    E- Looks awesome:
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Analog_Manner

    Analog_Manner New Member

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    I bought the Zune 120GB last weekend for $250. I went to Best Buy, and noticed that the ipod was $500/32GB. I have 70GB of music so it was a no-brainer. I don't regret it all, it's the toughest little gizmo I own. I've already dropped it a couple times. And the best part is that I can listen to it for two days at work without charging it.

    The iPod Touch on display was buggy (the interface kept locking up), but I'm not sure if that was because people keep bumping into it and stuff.
     
  14. Exavier

    Exavier New Member

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    I've got a Classic 160GB iPod and have been using it since may
    it's not locked up on me yet and is fairly sturdy considered how much of a ham-fisted retard I am sometimes.
    paired with the right headphones, in my case £16 sennheisers, and it's exactly what I need.
     
  15. Jelle Mees

    Jelle Mees New Member

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    So far the best MP3's I've had were from Creative. High-quality hardware, high-quality software, a lot more features and DIVX/XVID support.

    Creative has to release a couple 80GB ( or more ) players, because now all you can get is Zune or iPod. That sucks. Even if the creative players were 200$ more expensive, I would buy it if they had it.
     
  16. freaksavior

    freaksavior To infinity ... and beyond!

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    archos ftw :)
     
    Crunching for Team TPU
  17. Analog_Manner

    Analog_Manner New Member

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    Someone on Slashdot once said that Creative developed the interface that the iPod uses, and then sued Apple later on for patent infringement and lost because they didn't make mp3 players.

    I could never find anything to support those claims, but a small group of people at work refuse to buy iPods because of it.
     
  18. Nitro-Max

    Nitro-Max New Member

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    My car headunit has Ipod hookup just never got around to buying an ipod lol i think there over priced for what they are.
     
  19. CrAsHnBuRnXp

    CrAsHnBuRnXp

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    Id really like to get a Zune. My little creative mp3 player broke and my wireless bluetooth headphones for my phone get to much interference at the gym that I cant use them. (which is what I bought them for) Im thinking its the security system.
     
  20. timta2

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    From Wikipedia:
    "Creative applied for U.S. Patent 6,928,433 on January 5, 2001 and was awarded the patent on August 9, 2005.[6] The ZEN Patent was awarded to Creative for the invention of user interface for portable media players. This opened the way for potential legal action against Apple's iPod and the other competing players. Creative took legal actions against Apple in May 2006. In August, 2006, Creative and Apple entered into a broad settlement,[7] with Apple paying Creative $100 million for the license to use the Zen patent. Creative will join the "Made for iPod" program which opens new opportunities for the company."

    Creative didn't design the iPod's interface, Apple did. Creative's (LATE) patent was a broad patent on user interfaces.
     
  21. Analog_Manner

    Analog_Manner New Member

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    So it's the other way around then? Well, that's good gossip for tomorrow.:slap:
     
  22. Grasshopper New Member

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    From Wikipedia:
    "iPod is a popular brand of portable media players designed and marketed by Apple Inc. and launched on October 23, 2001."

    So basically Creative apply for the Patent 9 months before iPod went on the market. ;)
     

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