Last Summer I purchased my friend’s Creative Zen Vision M music player as he had chosen to get something much smaller and not as cumbersome as he felt this particular player was (it’s no worse than the size of the I-pod but he can be rather fussy at times). I think he went with a smaller Creative Labs device in the end and since I didn’t really have a player of my own yet I was totally interested in it. The size was 30GB and while smaller than the newest I-Pod I was one of those consumers who wanted to give the other guys a chance (plus he had not cleared off all of his music before giving it to me which was cool since he had a number of albums that I didn’t own on CD to upload myself). I was happily rolling along with said device and even did the proper tech guy stuff of updating its firmware and making sure everything it needed to be a cool addition to my arsenal was put into place. Better categories and stuff along those lines but after several months the device started to grow tired of me and chose to run off with the thief who rifled through my bag while covering an event. Believe it or not, this wasn’t even a Metal show, but something a little higher brow, and that’s where the friggin’ thing gets lifted from me. “Bah” is all that I have to say about that occurrence. Of course this began the craving for a new device because I was now officially addicted to having a music player on me so while I had debated upon an I-pod I found the price of the one I wanted to be too pricey. Creative Labs had a newer Vision M which was 60GB but it was around the same price as that I-Pod I just mentioned which was far bigger – alas what to do and what to choose was beginning to drive me crazy. Then it hit me – a few members of my PiercingLegions were using Microsoft Zune’s and while they were the initial run of the device, they had said that the really liked the difference and it also made them feel good since they were so anti I-pod. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti I-Pod at all, and rather like the ones that my friends have but I tended to agree that perhaps I should continue the aspect of “giving the other guys a chance”. As luck would have it they now offered a device that was in my price range and also the newest model on the market. Having tried my friends 30 gigabyte Zune I was immediately impressed at how much lighter this 80 gigabyte one was and I immediately ordered myself one via Amazon.com – I’ve provided a link below for you to do the same should the rest of this musing about the item fall in line with your own thoughts. Keep reading to find out what I liked and didn’t like about it.
Size: It’s an 80gb device and I currently have about 182 albums on the thing which amounts to 1,992 songs and just under 10gb of space used. From this you should be able to get the picture that at least another 1,638 albums can be loaded on it. Perhaps that is something I will try to do when I have about a week free to just upload music to the device. For now it’s loaded with music that I am reviewing and a few podcasts that I enjoy listening to. The official specs line out that it can hold up to 20,000 songs, 25,000 pictures and 250 hours of video.
WiFi: This is super cool as a feature and I have been noodling around with it for awhile. The Zune actually allows you the means to synchronize your music and whatever else you have loaded up with a wireless signal and that prevents you from having another cord laying around and tripping you up. You have to set it up on your wireless router if you block signals which I had to do but once its set up I found no difficulty in using the feature. It’s pretty cool and will take a little longer to do based on how much you are updating but either way the I-Pod currently does NOT offer this feature on their numerous devices. The other thing you can do via the wireless power of the Zune is share your music with other Zune users. All you need to do is open up the “Social” option on the menu and select “nearby” from it. You can then connect and select songs you want them to have. I tried this during lunch the other day and shared a Billy Idol track with someone who sent me a Reggae artist they recommended (hey it was the only thing he had on his device that even remotely interested me). I did his transfer from 10 feet, but he did mine when I was at least 30 feet away and that was awesome to test since the speed was still rocking. The music one shares is only going to let you listen to the tracks three times and offer you the means to buy it via the Zune Marketplace which is a lot like The I-Tunes Store. Once your three plays are up, the songs must be deleted since they will not work anymore. I should have left mine in place to see what the exact process was but I didn’t. The Reggae song was not all that good in my opinion.
Weight and Design: The new Zune 80gb is very light in terms of the device weight. I also purchased the specific Zune protective case and together they still are lighter than the first version Zune 30gb device on its own. People enjoy sleek and lightweight devices nowadays and Microsoft did good in this area. The device is also thinner than its predecessor but ups the game all the more with its bright and vivid color 3.2 inch display screen. Functionality is left to three buttons with the largest center one being your main controller for scrolling and browsing your contents while the two small buttons on either side are your power, play and reverse navigation controls. Volume is also controlled by the master button. A user can master these controls with ease and that’s a plus.
The Social: Zune builds in its own little social networking aspect by allowing you to join communities of fans who might be listening to similar music as you. You get to name your Zune to something you would like and I named my own “PiercingMetalNY” because apparently “PiercingMetal” on its own was taken by someone else. I found that amusing and inquired to the person about what had led them to the name and they replied that it was a line in a movie. That really made me scratch my head a little since no movies inspired me in calling the website that at all. I really need to dig more around the Social aspect of this thing but should any Metal music fans have Zune’s and wish to add me please feel free to do so. I would love to see how this aspect works a little more as I move forward with this device.
FM Radio Tuner: It has one. Plain and simple and the I-Pods do not. My Zen had one and my little Sandisk 2gb device does as well but its a little easier to plug in and save your favorite FM stations here. Personally radio bores me now, so I hardly use it at all. Either way it’s nice to have another feature to use as opposed to ones it didn’t have.
So What Didn’t I Like?
OK, well, I am using my Zune on the laptop and many of you Mac users or even PC ones who have I-Pods are doing the same. The thing I don’t like is that the songs remain resident on your PC as opposed to only being on the device. My Zen Vision M allowed me the means to have the music stay on the device or in my computer library and no matter where they were there was always a reference to it. Since my Zune hard drive is the same size as my laptop’s hard drive I will never even be able to come close to using the device to its capacity. Maybe some future software upgrade and device patch will make this a possibility so I will remain hopeful.
I also didn’t like the fact that there was no recording device built into the functionality of the Zune. Given the fact that I do interviews with bands from time to time, it would have been a great feature to have on it just in case I was at a show and got the urge to interview. No extra tools necessary, just turn on the Zune, hit record and then talk your heart out. The Zen did have this, and this is the reason that I also own that Sandisk 2gb device. It’s sole existence is for band interviews but more about that little Tool Of The Trade is for another musing on another day.
The main thing is that I love my Zune, and look forward to it being upgraded by an even sleeker and larger capacity device with more features as time goes on. Knowing how fast technology updates I am betting that before my device is half full of songs that I will start seeing commercials for the new one. For now I will be fine, and I think the Metal music public would agree that it is a solid device for the money that they would have to lay out for it. If you are one of those who enjoys being different or just has issues with the current superpower in music players then give Microsoft’s Zune a chance. I did, and am a very happy customer. Remember if you order the Zune via the link we have in this musing that Amazon.com will offer us some referral stuffs and we always apply that to the betterment and continued function of PiercingMetal.com
Important: If you have questions or concerns about this product you can leave them as comments under this posting and they will be addressed accordingly. Please understand that based on existing editorial demands that such inquiries via direct email contact will not be answered.
Official Website: http://www.microsoft.com