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View Full Version : New Zune details, iPod killer it's not


GFLPraxis
Aug 18, 2006, 01:40 AM
http://backstage.ilounge.com/index.php/backstage/comments/zune-interface-features-detailed/

If you’ve been wondering how the Zune’s user interface will compare with the iPod’s, we have some real answers for you this morning: the similarities are significant, but Microsoft has made a number of changes that range from cool to not so cool.

That Wheel Thing: Not so cool. Turns out that there’s no touch-sensitive scrolling feature here - it’s shaped like a wheel, but it’s really just buttons. Zune has a menu button on the left of the circle, scroll buttons within the circle, and a play/pause button to the right of the circle. There’s also a hold switch just like Apple’s on the unit’s top, near the headphone port. You press up and down on the “Wheel” to scroll up and down through menus.

http://www.ilounge.com/images/uploads/zunebw.jpg

(Photo from Gizmodo)

General UI: Cool-ish. Think iPod, but in reverse: white text on black screens, but with a very iPod-like menu hierarchy. A white and gray gradient highlight bar fades in and out as you transition from level to level of the menus - a slightly futuristic and definitely nice visual effect. There’s also user-customizable wallpaper, which could compensate for the fact that the screens otherwise look pretty boring - there aren’t any dividers for top, bottom, or side interface elements, just text.

Scrolling UI: Cool-ish. When holding the scroll button to run through a huge list of songs, the screen superimposes the current alphabet letter over the right side of the song list to let you know quickly how far you’ve moved (right).
http://www.ilounge.com/images/uploads/zunescreen2.jpg

Album Art: Cool. Zune displays album art in a full-screen-width cube at the top of its screen, leaving room for an MTV-style black track details bar at the bottom, along with a battery life indicator. The album art is significantly larger and more detailed than the iPod’s largest such display, thanks to the size of Zune’s screen.

Integrated FM Radio: Cool-ish. Yes, like virtually every other iPod wannabe out there, it has one. Like the fading gradient highlight bar, however, this one is stylish in a minimalist way - large numbers on the screen, with a fast-moving bar and numbers representing the FM dial. Think Apple’s iPod Radio Remote interface, but with more motion, no background art, and no preset details at the bottom - you can pick North American, European, and Japanese frequencies.

Wi-Fi: Eh. Apparently you can use the Wi-fi feature to “loan” other Zune owners music for some short period (a day), giving them the opportunity to buy the tracks themselves from the Zune music store. While this is a cool idea, and could work well for ubiquitous iPods, it gets an “eh” here because you’re unlikely to randomly bump into other people who have Zunes, and unless Microsoft actually gives away music, you’re even more unlikely to find people who are willing to purchase tracks from its latest music store. You may also be able to spool Zune music to a Wi-Fi-enabled Xbox 360, which again is a cool idea, but requires a $100 wireless adapter and the $300-400 console. (It’s unclear as to whether the hard disk - part of the pricier $400 package - is required.)

Other Details: Not so cool. Zune is a bit bigger than a standard 30GB iPod, and apparently made entirely of plastic. In addition to the Music menus, there are Videos and Pictures playback interfaces, which aren’t as simple as Apple’s. Rather than using the iPod’s single-line Rolls of Film + (#) display, photos can be shown in a list of individually-named folders with a second line indicating the number of pictures per folder, which unnecessarily uses up screen space. Other views are available. Videos also use two display lines a piece. An Extras menu provides access to the Radio feature, and presumably features added by future attachments or firmware. Settings lets you adjust the menus, the internal LCD screen, sound effects, the radio’s frequency tuning, and more.

The big question being asked around these parts right now is whether Zune has any feature so compelling that it can really rival the iPod juggernaut. Right now, the feeling is that Microsoft may have gotten a few things closer to right than normal, but neither any individual part of the package nor the complete experience will truly rival the iPod’s super-simple, mainstream experience. At best, we’ve heard predictions that Zune will fight for the same fraction of “tech geek” market share (15%) that Apple hasn’t yet taken; at a $300 entry point with a 30GB hard drive, it’s hard to imagine that Zune gains traction in the iPod’s strongest market, the iPod mini- and nano-loving $250-and-under tiny device buyers. We’ll just have to see.

Same price as an iPod at the same capacity, but it's made entirely of plastic. Interface is an iPod ripoff with inverted colors, but with clunky buttons shaped to look like a scroll wheel. Heirarchy with folders sounds more complicated than the iPods'. It has WiFi and the ability to loan songs to others for a day, but since most have iPods and not other Zunes, this will likely rarely be used and the WiFi is only there to drain the battery. FM Tuner is good though.

But it has wallpapers!

This isn't going to kill the iPod. It probably won't even injure the Creative Zen line (which is cheaper at the same capacity).


EDIT: Oh yeah, I really didn't know where to put this as I didn't really think it falls in the iPod category, but it is marketted as an iPod killer and there have been front page news stories about it. Mods, please move this post wherever it should be, and feel free to edit as you will.

spicyapple
Aug 18, 2006, 01:50 AM
I wouldn't be caught carrying that thing around. It's too geeky for my tastes.

jholzner
Aug 18, 2006, 08:54 AM
The thing is ugly, that's for sure. It probably won't have anything better than the current iPod, which will most likely be replaced by the time Zune comes out. The problem with iPod competitors is that they can only copy what Apple currently has out so they will always be a generations behinds Apple's new 'wares.

Killyp
Aug 18, 2006, 09:12 AM
Will it be released 'Zune'? :o

I can't see this being a great product. Firstly, Windows Media Player is a very cluttered program. The music store is hard to use (I gave up after 10 minutes), and it won't be plug and play like the iPod. You will still need to 'Sync' it and choose quality settings and blahdy blahdy blah. The iPod is so easy to set up and use. My sister managed to do it!

michaelrjohnson
Aug 18, 2006, 09:26 AM
Will it be released 'Zune'? :o
Pretty sure, yes.

GFLPraxis
Aug 18, 2006, 10:46 AM
Will it be released 'Zune'? :o

I can't see this being a great product. Firstly, Windows Media Player is a very cluttered program. The music store is hard to use (I gave up after 10 minutes), and it won't be plug and play like the iPod. You will still need to 'Sync' it and choose quality settings and blahdy blahdy blah. The iPod is so easy to set up and use. My sister managed to do it!

Not to mention that it probably won't be Mac compatible. Of course, that only matters to us Macheads that would buy iPods anyway, but still.

kainjow
Aug 18, 2006, 01:16 PM
Not to mention that it probably won't be Mac compatible. Of course, that only matters to us Macheads that would buy iPods anyway, but still.
99% chance it won't be Mac compatible out of the box, but I'm confident someone will come up with a hack (I will probably buy one to play with :p)

mkrishnan
Aug 18, 2006, 01:29 PM
The WiFi viral sort of features would be very cool (agreeing with the "eh" above) if the Zune had the market base of the iPod. The problem right now is saturation, to me. Even if Apple implemented that feature, then the problem is it's still "late" in the game, and so such a huge fraction of people you know who have iPods will have iPods that don't have WiFi. It works best when it starts out that way (like the Nintendo DS). Of course, MS could eventually capture enough market share (since they *are* starting out that way) that they could pull it off but.... well... yeah.

wako
Aug 20, 2006, 07:45 PM
Entirely made out of plastic? OK! That sealed the deal for me, Im definitely never gonna bother with the player then

treblah
Aug 20, 2006, 09:28 PM
I'm kinda disappointed. Not that I'd ever buy one but I really wish someone would challenge Apple to make the iPod better. They could sit on their asses for a year and still dominate the US market.

Here's to touch screen iPods by Thanksgiving. ;)

Chaszmyr
Aug 20, 2006, 09:45 PM
I'm kinda disappointed. Not that I'd ever buy one but I really wish someone would challenge Apple to make the iPod better. They could sit on their asses for a year and still dominate the US market.

Here's to touch screen iPods by Thanksgiving. ;)

My money says Apple hasn't been "sitting on their asses for a year," I say that iPod development has been slow because Apple has been thinking big for future iPod updates.

Flowbee
Aug 20, 2006, 10:20 PM
The WiFi viral sort of features would be very cool...

How long before we see the first virus that spreads from Zune to Zune?

plinkoman
Aug 21, 2006, 03:53 AM
99% chance it won't be Mac compatible out of the box, but I'm confident someone will come up with a hack (I will probably buy one to play with :p)

here's a hack, run windows on your mac :cool:

I think i'll keep my iPod thank you.