Zune first impressions

Discussion in 'iPod' started by qtip919, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. qtip919 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    I had the opportunity to check out the new Zune today from Microsoft, and while this is indeed a V1 release of their product, I am highly highly impressed. I can say with all honesty, that if I had to choose between the two right now, I would definately go with the Zune. There are several reasons I would do this, and none of them have to do with the REDICULOUS DRM schemes that both Apple and Microsoft are forcing down our throats.

    Here are my reasons, opinions


    Hmmm...i still dont know why this is such a big deal. I dont want to share my music with anyone, and Im not interested in knowing what someone else is listening to. However, I did meet a very nice girl that I dated for a while when we stumbled across each other itunes libraries at work once. It was really cool. We shared about all of the rediculous 80s rock bands we used to listen to, and our favorites that really did mean something to us. It led to some amazing discussions, and I will never forget how our music choices brought us together.

    Anyways, I doubt the Zune will reproduce this same type of thing, and I also doubt that this will be a factor that people will go for when deciding on which device to purchase...

    Case/Body Design

    The Zune employs a type of material that resists both scratches, dents and most importantly, fingerprints. The first thing I had to do with my shiny new Ipod video was buy a case. This in mainly because I hate to see any of my hardware become run down or shabby looking. I have seen an ipod that has spent a week in someone's backpack, and it looked like it had been buried in the sand during high tide. The first thing you need to do when you get an ipod is spend 30-50 dollars on a case. Its a hidden cost, and I would almost believe Apple uses materials and a design that necessitate a protective case.

    The Zune solves this with pretty durable exterior that would take quite the beating. It reminds me of my good ol' 3rd gen ipod. Never needed a case for that one!!!


    The Zune can play videos in widescreen format. My ipod screen is a real limitation for any widescreen aspect movies. It's a real shame that we are still awaiting a widescreen ipod...I know Im not alone in the fact that I probably would have upgraded my 1 year old ipod video if Apple had released a widescreen ipod.


    This is where everyone is stating that Microsoft has failed miserably. I can say without a doubt that I believe everyone is wrong here. Its actually quite comfortable in both my hands and my pocket. I can hardly notice the size difference Height and Width, but the iPod is amazing in how thin it now is. However, with my trusty old case that I am forced to use, my ipod is equally as thick.

    This argument comes down to the fact that there is now a clear division in device size. I would say that the ipod video's, creative zen's, etc. are all what I would classify as "handheld's"...they're not ideal for sitting in your pocket in the sence that you KNOW they are there. The nano's are of course my device of choice, in that they are so small, and they are so comfortable in both hold and carry around. Additionally, they are better suited for the gym routine, jogging, etc. However, if you need large storage capacity + video, you sacrifice this portability with size.

    The Zune justifies the size by offerring a better screen.


    You know, you would honestly think that THIS would be where Microsoft would fall flat on their face. Again, not true. This is where the device truly shines. While I cannot offer any specifics on how the device software functions, I can say that I am now truly disappointed in how my ipod navigation works. And I can say this as someone who believed that it was literally impossible to improve on Apple's navigation software/hardware solution.

    Microsoft matches this, and while it "borrows" many of ipod's navigation styles, they also enhance places where I have always felt apple fell short.

    In the end, this is so exciting, because all other comparable devices I have ever used were nothing short of a complete disappointment. I had a freind who owned a creative Zen, and I spent hours laughing at his pitiful device. Its design from top to bottom could not have been worse. We FINALLY have a company who is going to push Apple to improve for the sake of competition, which will no doubt drive prices down, improve quality and offer new and improved features. These next few years are going to be fun...let the REAL competition begin...
  2. BurtonCCC macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2005
    Wheaton/Normal, IL
    If the rumor about the Zune not being able to connect to iTunes is true, that provides a lot of drive for the Zune to be a flop. iTunes is the industry standard now. Just about everybody has an iPod, so just about everybody has an iTunes. So my question would be: what program is the Zune going to use to organize music and dock with? If Microsoft is going to ask consumers to use the horrible Window Media Player interface, they're going to have quite a big surprise watching how their product only sells to the ignorant anti-Apple MS fanboys.


    EDIT: By the way, you wrote a fantastic review. Very, very informative. :)
  3. macfan881 macrumors 68020

    Feb 22, 2006
    agree if there is no itunes suport i belive it will flop i tried using the ipod with windows media player back when the ipod first came out and u could use the xplay it was god aful itunes is so much better it should be The Standard mp3 player now but i stiill dont think this is gonna be a hit at all
  4. Laslo Panaflex macrumors 65816

    Laslo Panaflex

    May 1, 2003
    From all the videos that I have seen of the zune, there is no scroll wheel like on the iPod, but merely up, down, left, right controls, like a gamepad. I would think it would be very difficult to navigate through my hundreds of artists and thousands of songs by clicking through them on at a time. Could you maybe elaborate on how the navigation works?
  5. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002

    Well thanks! :)

    As far as I know, WMP11 will not be what people use. I thought there would be a unique software app (called zune as well) that would be a total copy of itunes. From the screens I saw, it was quite elegant. In fact, everything I have seen from the software side does not reflect the typical microsoft design. In general, they seem to be copying apple to the letter, and in most cases; simplifying on Apple's design. If you ask me, the latest version of iTunes is the best and worst of everything from Apple. It uses "yet another" set of design cues (I love them, but they dont match ANYTHING in OS X...I just pray for unification with Leopard), it also has a very "disjointed" feel with the new album browsing...In my opinion, it looks like 2 different applications joined together by a summer intern. Dont get me wrong, I love the new album browser, but it just looks thrown together.

    As far as itunes integration, Microsoft has already announced that they would accept songs/playlists created in iTunes (but not the DRM'd songs purchased on the iTMS)...now, while this is big blow to me personally, and would equate to losing several hundred dollars in music purchases, the research I have been involved with shows that the vast majority of people have ripped their music into itunes, and the total music purchased on iTMS equates to less than 8% of the total music "out there"

    Sadly, stolen music still makes up a huge portion of the music out on people's libraries. But legitimate burned CDs is by far the majority of music out there. Again, in my opinion, this is nothing but a good thing. I hope really hope that in the long run, DRM based music doesnt win out, as I really really hate DRM in general.
  6. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    The Zune doesn't have a widescreen display. It's a 3" 4:3 screen in portrait orientation (so really, a 3" 3:4 screen) that has the same resolution (320x240) as the iPod's 2.5" screen.
  7. kineticpast macrumors member

    May 13, 2005
    Thankyou! Why must everyone reviewing the Zune complain about the iPod's lack of widescreen when the Zune is also missing the same feature? Maybe only Australians are capable of judging aspect ratios by eye! ;)

    Otherwise, qtip919, that was a good review; I'm so over all the one-sided reviews from both 'sides' (though you did use my currently most despised interweb misspelling twice, it's 'ridiculous', seems to be popping up everywhere I go!).

    [edit]If criticising spelling, one should at least check their own first! ;)[/edit]
  8. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    I get lost in all this widescreen 4:3 16:9, etc nonsense...someone will need to explain it all to me.

    In the end, watching a movie (horizontally) on the zune provided quite a bit more viewing area compared to my ipod. Now, the thing I am watching is a widescreen format movie ripped to my ipod (which, i guess, is illegal)...anyways, the two black bars comprise more area than the actual viewable movie. This same type of thing on the Zune provides a great deal more viewing space. The black bars on the top and bottom are almost unnoticeable. So, in the end...could be the same screen resolution, but the screen is quite differnet in shape. The ipod clearly has a box shape, and the zune clearly has a rectagular shape. The advantage may come down to those who are willing to put themselves into th e horror world of watching full length movies on such a small screen. Personally, I just dont get it.

    However, this does not stop me from buying episodes of lost and a few other cute shows that I have stubled across...

    Im just hoping that the iTV provides a real interface into my media.

    On a totally different note, I am so confused about the iTV. Is this the Media Center + iTunes weve all wanted? This seems a little silly as you could go and get a used mac mini and have the whole deal and an actual functioning computer...for probably 100-200 dollars difference...

    The question I have is why is holding the ipod from being the iTv as well? It seems like the VAST majority of users out there on not living in high def. And if we are now downloading DVD quality movies to the ipods, and they can clearly output to tv, then why not just run with that!!!
  9. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Apple (and to be fair MS) don't force DRM down our throats. It's the record labels / Movie studios that force Apple & MS to have some form of DRM on the products.
  10. Tom B. macrumors 65816

    Tom B.

    Mar 22, 2006
    Sorry, but you are wrong. They both have the exact same shaped screen, unless, the Zune has rectangular pixels. (Probably not)
  11. kineticpast macrumors member

    May 13, 2005
    I'll try explain a little better. Basically it comes down to your eyes tricking you and I'm guessing a different source video; the iPod and the Zune screens are actually the same shape as demonstrated by this image I just 'shopped together. Both source images were from the respective companies' media resources to make sure the images weren't already squished, though I've of course reduced the Zune's overall size.


    It is now fairly obvious that they are the same shape. We know they both have the same pixel resolution, 320px by 240px, so using the same source files you'll have the same amount of black bars on both.

    You're probably wondering why you thought the Zune was less of a square shape and why you 'definitely saw more black' on the iPod! It comes down to a few factors.

    Firstly, the reason the Zune screen looks less like a box is because the overall shape and position of the screen creates an optical illusion. Being on the same 'angle' with the Zune shape makes you unconsciencely associate the two shapes.

    Now onto why you saw more black bars on the iPod, this isn't an optical illusion and you were probably right, you may have experienced less black on the Zune. In this case it is likely because of the source, but before I get onto that I'll mention another possible reason. Most pics I've seen of the Zune playing video in landscape view had a play bar down the bottom, if it was present it is the sort of thing you don't think about, so possibly there was equal black, but the play bar filled some of that space and the entire video was shifted up.

    If that wasn't the reason then it will be because of the source video. You mentioned that 4:3 and 16:9 confuses you, so you are unlikely to know the following... While most TVs are only in those two sizes, movies have a much broader range of aspect ratios. You'd notice this if you had a widescreen TV, some movies have no black bars, while others have significant black bars. Most comedies, dramas and 'regular' movies are filmed in 16:9, so on the widescreen TV they fill the screen. Epic films on the other hand, such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Ben-Hur, are filmed a lot wider to give a more, well, epic feel. This means on all TVs you see a fair bit of black space. For example compare these screenshots of Return of the King with Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    So, if you had a movie like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on your iPod then you would be watching a lot of nothing, whereas Microsoft may have been demoing their units with more regular movies like The Wizard of Oz; still widescreen, but a lot less!
  12. zim macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2002
    Fantastic post! :D Thanks!
  13. davidjearly macrumors 68020


    Sep 21, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    You're comparing Apple's to Orange's!

    Whilst your review was quite informative, you are at the end o the day, comparing two completely different products.

    The Zune device is more in comparison with Apple's yet to be released and well speculated True Video iPod.

    I would still buy the current iPod over the Zune however because for what it does, it simply does it better. That is the real issue. The iPod has a better design, better controls (with definately superior navigation), better integration, and even the Fairplay DRM is more 'fair' than MS DRM.

    Regards, David
  14. iminimac macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2005
    one important thing i want to know
    how long is the battery life with wireless on
    and also using wireless according to my front you can have your zune sat next to your laptop and it will automatically update using wireless - is this so?
  15. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    Never having used the Zune, how would you make this decision?

    Im not advocating people go out and drop their ipods en masse. I am, however, very very impressed with Microsoft's attempt with a V1 product. And I cant be more clear: this is a V1, not a 5th or 6th generation product.

    Apple has a clear leg up, and they wont be feeling the competition for quite some time. Microsoft has not really tried to compete up until this point. They have allowed their model to try to succeed in a market for which they were completely unprepared.

    Now they are prepared, now they are learning from Apple and now, more importantly, they are realizing that they need to adapt their business model to be more like apple.

    What I am saying is that this hardware reflects the new model. Their software reflects the new model. If you had never known that this Zune was made by Microsoft and you just picked it up in a store, you would swear Apple had designed the software.

    As far as the fact that they are two different products, you're making an assumption. The Zune doesnt really do anything that the current ipod video doesnt do. I totally see them as competing products. If apple "one ups" them with the next release (a year out?) than that is just great news for all of us!!!
  16. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002

    You're using smoke and mirrors man. I had an ipod video sitting right next to this zune. The screen is clearly bigger. Granted, I was using a stirrer straw to do a completely unscientific measurement, but the Zune has a much larger screen.

    Im not sure where you got your measurements, but they are not accurate. When I walked away with my ipod, I was so disappointed in my screen real estate with my ipod...
  17. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    Im sure you can transfer songs with 802.11, also...battery life (my most important requirement) is not up to par with the newest ipod. as we all know, 802.11 radios kill batteries.

    Of course, you can easily turn your wireless on and off...when it is off, the battery does quite well
  18. Bibulous macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2005
    Great review.

    The Zune software and music store look to be very competitive, MS seems to be copying Apple's total solution approach and doing a very good job for a first offering.

    Unfortunately the Zune software looks like it will be Windows only. It would be something if MS released a OSX version, love to see Apples reaction.
  19. Tom B. macrumors 65816

    Tom B.

    Mar 22, 2006
    Did you even read what he said!? He was talking about the shape/aspect ratio of the screen, not size. In one of your ealier posts, you said that the Zune had a widescreen display, because it had smaller black bars at the top and bottom. He was just proving that you were wrong.
  20. rosalindavenue macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2003
    Virginia, USA
    Meh. Take it to zunefanboy.com. Your post reeks of astroturfing. This thing is already a joke-- it doesn't even play "playsforsure" tracks. The only way Zune could ever get any traction would be the rumored "replace your itunes store tracks with zune tracks" deal-- which would be incredibly expensive for Microsoft. Even then, I dont think it would get any traction. If Sony can't do it, MS surely can't.
  21. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Apr 2, 2006
    The zune is SO fugly!!!

    That is a REALLY crappy copy of the clickwheel:rolleyes:

    Stupid M$

    The Zune will fail miserably, everyone knows that!!!!!:) :D
  22. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    He's showing you not the size of the iPod screen vs. the Zune screen, but the aspect ratio and resolution.

    The Zune's screen is 0.5" bigger physically but it has the same resolution as the iPod's. Therefore you don't actually get any more "real estate" - it's all just physically bigger.

    Same thing happened with the 14" iBook. The amount of information displayed on the 12" and the 14" iBook is exactly the same but a lot of people thought they were getting more space with a bigger screen. They weren't, it's just that the pixels were bigger.

    If you put the Zune's interface onto an iPod you would see exactly the same amount of information because each has a 320x240 screen, the interface would look smaller on the iPod because it packs the same number of pixels into a smaller space - thus the pixels need to be smaller.
  23. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    Is anything too expensive for Microsoft? They'll just make up for it by charging more for Windows and Office.

    BTW, why the argument over widescreen, the Zune has a 3" screen - bigger. Microsoft has more experience with Windows Media which includes video. The only real thing Microsoft has problems with is compatibility. I'm expecting people that have a Zune to experience, at one point, a blue screen...
  24. yorkslad macrumors regular

    Oct 31, 2005
    Me thinks Quicktime has been around a little longer???
  25. DubbaJ macrumors newbie

    Sep 20, 2006
    Sarnia, ON, Canada
    He's not saying they are the same size.

    Here's a link to a gizmodo article showing the same thing he was demonstrating.

    Bigger screen, same aspect ratio, same resolution.

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