Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Zune: First Impressions

As any of my friends will quickly attest, I have no self-control when it comes to buying gadgets. I picked up a Zune (brown, of course...) at EB Games today, and so far my impressions are very good. In no particular order:

  • General look and feel: About as big as a first generation iPod, but doesn't feel as heavy, and I really like the fingerprint-resistant rubbery-feeling case. The brown color seems to be a love it/hate it kind of thing, and I'm on the 'love it' side. Go Earth tones!!

  • Screen: Big, colorful, and crisp. One reason the Zune is so large is that the screen is as large as it is.

  • Controls: Simple and easy to use. I keep expecting the center control pad to turn like an iPod's, but it's just an up/down/left/right button. (Think of the d-pad on almost any modern videogame console's controller) A touch less quick to move around long lists, but still works well.

  • Menus: Similar to Window's Media Center menus. Very nice looking and easy to move around in. Definitely a strong point.

  • Zune Marketplace: Not as feature-rich as iTunes, but what it has works well. Very similar to Urge if you have used that. I really love that you don't have to specify what your search string is for. It QUICKLY searches their entire library and shows how many matches found in artist, album, or song title, and THEN you can choose which of those search result sets you want to see. I anticipate that video downloads will come VERY soon (since they'll be on the XBox Live Marketplace soon), and I hope podcasts aren't far behind. But, for now you have to take it on faith that those will arrive in the future.

  • Radio: works well. Nice to have as an option, but not a big deal for me.

  • Wireless: I'm not too excited by 'share your songs with a friend' stuff. I'm hoping they get future enhancements to allow syncing and/or song downloads direct to your zune via wireless in the future. I see this more as a feature that shows much promise for future enhancements rather than something I'll use much now.

  • Sound quality: Excellent.

  • Synchronizing: Here's a big win for me: it's easy, trouble-free (so far), and above all it is FAST. It's easily as fast as my iPod in synchronizing, if not a touch faster. Since I'm a huge fan of subscription services, I do LOTS of new song synchronizing every day, and not having to live with the Plays-For-Sure slower-than-coral-growth speeds feels like a gift from the gods.

  • Battery life: tbd

I'll post a week later or so and let you know if my very positive first impressions hold up.