Zune Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

Be sure to register in our forums! Share your opinions, help others, and enter our contests.

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

Windows Phone Thoughts

Loading feed...

Digital Home Thoughts

Loading feed...

All posts tagged "review"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ever Made a Photo Book? Or Wanted To? Then Read This

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 06:00 PM


This is one of those rare network-wide announcements, but if you own a digital camera, you'll probably be interested in this topic: this morning over on Digital Home Thoughts I published an article that was seven months in the making. This article is the single longest piece of writing I've ever published online; it's a gargantuan 15,000 words, has 87 images, and 12 videos. Don't worry, it's easy to read with a jump-list table of contents, and executive summaries in the conclusion.

The topic? It's a photo book review - but not just any photo book review. I was searching for a photo book comparison review, and couldn't find anything that matched the scope I needed...so I took it upon myself to write it. It encompasses 12 different photo book companies, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. So whether you're a photo book expert, or if you've never printed a photo book in your life but think you might like to, I think you'll find this review useful. I'd also appreciate you sharing it with others via Twitter, Facebook, etc., and digging this if you have a Digg account. Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Asher Hawkins Of Forbes Likes The Zune

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 01:39 PM


“A 120 GB iPod Classic goes for $249, though its screen is roughly two-thirds the size of the Zune's. As far as music goes, when you're strolling through town listening to your tunes with your device in your pocket, will you really care which of the two you're using? The sad fact is, many would. The level of brand loyalty Apple enjoys today was prompted by increasingly aged innovations. As I see it, the main reason people turn their noses up at the Zune is that Microsoft is seen as uncool.”

If that isn’t the truth, I don’t know what is. Asher Hawkins did a side by side comparison of the Zune and iPod Touch. This is a comparison that at first glance seems a bit unfair given the very different nature of the two devices. When Asher admits to having been an Apple customer since age 5, then I didn’t exactly expect an unbiased look. I give Forbes credit for their professionalism though! Asher was very positive about the Zune in comparison to the iPod, even questioning why someone would choose a classic over the Zune 120.

Other than the fact that Asher was pretty positive on the whole thing, the most interesting comments came in regards to what you use day to day to listen to your music. And I agree completely. There is a difference of course between today’s MP3 players and yesterday’s CD player market. If you had a CD it would (usually) work in any player available.

Because of DRM and varying file formats, that’s of course not as easy anymore. I would guess, however, that most people who have their own music collections have them available in MP3 so that they can listen to them on any device they choose.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

C|Net: Zune 8 "Sleek and Stylish"

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 01:00 PM


"On the other end, we have what I like to call 'industrial chic.' The Microsoft Zune, with its solid construction and muted body paint, falls nicely into this camp. A large screen and brushed metal backside add to the appeal, and don't forget the custom etching option. If that doesn't scream style, I don't know what does."

I couldn't agree more. I'm no design major, but I love my Zune80's simultaneously flat sides and curved corners. Plus the Teflon-like back is really useful when dealing with stain-prone liquids and markables. Check out the article for the full rundown of all 6 "sleek and stylish" players.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Digital Trends : Zune Isn't So Bad

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Talk" @ 09:00 PM


“Like a phoenix rising from the flames, the new Zune may have a chance at a fresh, meaningful and lucrative life, free from teasing and taunting with which the original brown Zune was cursed. The 4GB and 8GB flash-based Zune has a new (albeit nano-like) compact design, a beautiful little LCD screen, quality accessories and substantial sound production. We at Digital Trends took the new Zune on a test drive and we've got a report for you. Read on to find out what we liked and disliked, and be sure to check out our short Zune video.”

Overall, I think Digital Trends gave a very fair review of the Zune 8. (Wow, last year when the first Zune came out I was frustrated every time I read a ‘review’. What difference a year makes in public perception.) One thing I found interesting was that they knocked the Marketplace as being difficult to sign in. I’m not sure why since they didn’t really go into detail about that and I know from my experience that it signs me in automatically.

I do notice that many reviewers aren’t sold still on the Marketplace and Digital Trends is no exception. I do give them props for giving the subscription model props, which was very refreshing to see. They still thought the software could use improvement though I wasn’t completely clear as to what other than to make it more like iTunes. I guess most people are used to iTunes so I can understand that a bit but I never could get into the program even long before my Zune days.

Overall though, Digital Trends liked the Zune and if you’re trying to decide still if you want the Zune 4/8 then this is a good read.

Tags: review, zune 8

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Positive PC World Review

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 PM

“It took them a while, but the folks at Microsoft have finally built a pretty good portable media player. With wireless syncing, a new touch-pad control to rival Apple's Click Wheel, and some interesting new features built into the Zune player software, this latest generation of Zunes should finally provide some real competition. We've reviewed both the $250 80GB Zune and the $200 8GB flash-based Zune that released today. Both offer very good sound quality and a nice set of features beyond standard audio and video playback, though the 80GB player is probably a better fit among its competition. But it's the Zune software--and the changes to the Zune Marketplace and online environment that come with it--that may eventually have the biggest impact on the Zune's success.”

PC World has a nice little write up about the new features in the Zune. It’s interesting to note that the review does focus entirely on the software and Zune Social aspect while ignoring the player in its entirety. Given the number of reviews out there it’s not much of an omission. I think most people expected the Zune UI to be better than the first, excellent, iteration. It’s nice that PC World gives the Zune team the credit they deserve by calling it serious competition.

The one thing I do disagree with, after my short time with the desktop software, is their assertion that it’s little more than an avenue to get media onto your device. I think as a desktop player for music and video it’s excellent. And to me the Zune Desktop’s primary purpose, after being a conduit for your music library to your Zune, is to be a vehicle to discover new music. And so far in that respect the desktop software has performed beautifully.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Altec Lansing M604 Zune Speaker Dock

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: Speaker dock
Manufacturer: Altec Lansing
Where to Buy: Low Price Search
Price: Ranges from $96.99 to $149.95 USD
System Requirements: A Zune for full functionality, or any MP3 player with a 3.5mm audio jack for sound (power will not be supplied to non-Zune devices).
Specifications: SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL (SPL): 100 dB. TOTAL CONTINUOUS POWER: 60 Watts RMS. SYSTEM RESPONSE: 60 Hz - 20 kHz (-10 dB). SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO: @ 1 kHz input: > 70 dB. DRIVERS: (per Satellite): Two 3” full-range drivers and two silkdome 1” tweeters. DIMENSIONS: 14” (W) x 5.4” (D) x 8.2” (H) (354 mm (W) x 137 mm (D) x 208 mm (H)). Further specifications here.

  • One of the few portable speaker systems for the Zune;
  • Recharges the Zune;
  • Attractive industrial design.
  • It just doesn't sound that good;
  • No way to switch Zune functions or playlists
  • Weak to non-existent bass response;
  • No option for battery power, so it's not truly portable.

Being the Zune fan that I am, I have a natural inclination to applaud any company willing to release Zune accessories in the iPod-saturated market we live in – so it's safe to say that I was somewhat pre-disposed to like the Altec Lansing Zune speaker dock. Despite a lot of nice features, it just can't deliver my music the way I want to hear it – but my ears are different than yours, so this may still be the solution you've been looking for.

Read on for the full review!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Zunerama Reviews Griffin DirectDeck

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Accessories" @ 05:11 AM


This is a great solution for playing Zune in your vehicle if you happen to have a tape player installed. At $14.99 (or potentially less on Amazon) it's far cheaper than an FM car transmitter. I received the DirectDeck as a Christmas present from my wife, and have used it the past few months. I've been pleased with the DirectDeck's convenience and sound quality.

Zunerama has a nice picture review of the Griffin DirectDeck. I’ve never been able to use one of these types of devices since I’ve never had a cassette player in my car but this really seems like a superior option to the FM transmitters that are available. Head over to Zunerama to read the whole review but at $14.99, I’d say this is a “must have” for anyone who can actually use it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fortte's Zune Cases

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Accessories" @ 05:00 PM


"This week we have a spotlight on Fortte's Zune cases. The company has been around for awhile and besides offering cases for the Zune, they have cases for all sorts of PDA and MP3 players. A few weeks ago, I received two Zune cases from the manufacturer. They sent me a black "Open Face" case and an orange "Carrier" case. Before publishing or writing the review, I used them in my everyday life to have a better understanding of what these products have to offer. I was impressed with the quality of the product but also about the very unique design of Fortte's cases make this company a top class Zune case manufacturer."

While the pictures don't scream 'quality' like the Vaja case I reviewed earlier this month, I would have to say it they look like some nice Zune cases. High-quality designs and materials are what will save your Zune from its inevitable doom, and these Fortte cases look like they'll fit the bill just fine. Take a look at Cliczune's review if you're interested. Anyone here own a Fortte case and want to share your thoughts?

Tags: case, review, fortte

Friday, May 11, 2007

Gear Diary Zune Review

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Talk" @ 08:17 AM


Gear Diary posted their Zune review the other day. The whole review is here if you want to go read it. I like their reviews since you get several points of view on a product while you read through it. Its interesting to see the different reasons the reviewers had for buying and liking (or disliking) certain aspects of the Zune.

One very interesting note that one of the reviewers brought up, however, was this:

"Well, after returning from a visit with the Microsoft SPOT team at CES, I ask why stop at just a clock on the Zune? I think it would be fab to use the SPOT service to get the time, weather, local information and news flashes...include the first year of service with the Zune's purchase price, and I suspect that most people would renew after it expired."

Well, you know what, I've never even thought about this before. I think this is a great idea for SPOT. The Zune has a built in FM tuner so it should be capable of picking up the signal. I have a Windows Mobile 2005 Phone Edition device so the service might be of limited use to me but for someone without one who carries their Zune everywhere, they could have an always on source of information. I have a SPOT watch that, while I don't wear it anymore, I felt provided an excellent service. The SPOT technology has some great applications and I think the Zune could definitely be a good place to implement it.

Tags: zune, review, spot

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Rocco Augusto Gives Us YAZR (Yet Another Zune Review)

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 AM


This weekend I bought myself a Microsoft Zune. It was the first big purchase that I have treated myself too since my old laptop died last October. I don’t really like to count my new laptop as a new purchase since I mostly use it for work and it was more like I needed to buy one instead of wanting to buy one. It was a pretty tough decision for me to choose between the Zune and other offerings out there. Everyone I know, and their grandmothers (seriously), seems to own some form of an iPod.

Rocco Augusto, aka the Nerd of Steel, has written a nice little blog post about his first impressions of the Zune. Rocco seems to like what pretty much everyone else has liked and disliked what pretty much everyone has liked. For the uninitiated, that means he likes the hardware and dislikes the software. That sounds about right! Its interesting to note that Rocco bought his specifically because he felt it would be a superior device for watching video.

Rocco writes for one of our sister sites, Smartphone Thoughts, so go give them a shout out too.

Tags: zune, review

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Tech Report Compares Zune and iPod

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 05:00 PM


"Launched back in 2001, Apple's iPod has arguably become the most iconic electronic device of the 21st century. With sales of over 100 million units, the iPod has dominated the market for portable audio—and now video—players...during the iPod's ascension, Microsoft worked with various hardware partners on all sorts of would be iPod killers, with little success. Then Redmond took matters into its own hands, creating the Zune media player to directly challenge Apple's iMonopoly. On paper, the Zune looks like a competent challenger, too; it has a much larger screen than the iPod, integrated wireless capabilities, and support for subscription-based music services. But is it any better than Apple's status quo? I've spent three months with an iPod and a Zune to find out, and the answer might surprise you."

This is one of the best, most fair-minded reviews of the Zune that I've seen in a long time. It pulls no punches, but also isn't as iPod-biased as nearly everything else I've seen out there. In fact, he's one of the few people that has the guts to actually criticize the iPod's much-vaunted scroll-wheel that, in truth, is much harder to use and control than the Zune's much-criticized control pad. If you're looking for a comparison between the iPod and the Zune, this is a great resource. One thing made me chuckle though: I'm constantly amazed at how completely polarizing the brown Zune is!. In this article, the author spends several paragraphs trashing the brown, but one of the few Zune owners I know bought the brown and quite likes it. Brown is a very popular colour nowadays, especially among young urbanites, and those cool indy-music-hipsters that Microsoft wanted to appeal to. I wouldn't buy a brown Zune myself, but I can completely understand why Microsoft released one.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

CNET Review's DLO's HomeDock for Zune

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 01:03 PM


"DLO, a company quite well-known for its plethora of iPod accessories, has really stepped up to the plate of choice by offering an array of add-ons for other MP3 players as well... DLO makes a HomeDock for the Zune ($99) and--dare I say--it's even better than the one for the iPod."

CNET has a review up of DLO's HomeDock for the Zune. DLO has offered an iPod version of this dock for some time, and how has a Zune version available. Just like with other video solutions for Zune, DLO's home dock displays the entire interface on the connected screen, not just the video. Check out the link for the full review!

Tags: review, dlo, homedock

Friday, February 23, 2007

vnunet.com Likes the Zune

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 02:00 PM


"Microsoft may have dabbled at the sidelines of the mp3 player market before, but it's now jumping in feet first with the Zune. But after years of dominance, does Apple have competition for its mp3 player crown? Oddly, Microsoft hasn't named a UK launch date for the Zune yet, despite it being available in the US. However, those eager to purchase will find plentiful supplies on sites such as Ebay. One thing Microsoft has got right with the Zune is the screen - it's big at 3in and fills a large proportion of the front. You have to turn the unit 90 degrees to watch video, but this means that widescreen content can be shown full screen, which looks great."

Zune reviews are still popping up here and there, this time it's overseas from the UK site vnunet.com. They like the screen quite, pointing out that when the screen is turned sideways your video content looks nice and big. I'd like to see a "Zoom and Trim" option though for 16:9 content since the Zune desktop software isn't smart enough to trim 16:9 video content to fit the Zune screen properly. The gave it an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars, with 5 out of 5 stars for features - a bit surprising considering their only con is the fact that the beamed music is shackled by limitations.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Birthday Zune Review

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Hardware" @ 05:00 PM


"My first thoughts were about the enormous screen. I’ve had an iPod for a year now, and this screen is much larger. As well, the Zune is a little larger overall and thicker, but oddly, it’s a tad lighter. The surface has a flat, matte look to it. The only shiny parts on the device are the controls and the screen. The device is comfortable in my hand. And, speaking of comfort, the ear buds are much more comfortable than the ear buds packaged with the iPod. That said, I have to point out that I have small ears (female) so maybe that is not the case for men. The software install was easy and, despite hearing that the software was buggy and despite it being a Microsoft product (grin), I’ve not seen a hiccup (or a bluescreen) yet. The install process was rather long, but painless. The fact that I was playing Halo 2 at the time, probably made it much less painful than it would have been had I been paying a great deal of attention."

OK, where exactly does one find women who play Halo? I thought they were an urban legend. ;-) Seriously though, it's always nice to see a fresh impression of the Zune, though my wife would have probably had a different experience (no Halo playing for her). Interested? Give it a read. Sure wish I had two Xbox 360s and two MCE machines...

Tags: review, female

Friday, February 9, 2007

CNet Reviews DLO Zune Cases

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Accessories" @ 07:00 AM


"Slim, snug, and sumptuous, the DLO Leather case ($34.99) keeps your Zune riding in style. It's a belt-clip case with a play-through design, a screen protector, and a magnetic front flap. The latter sports a small pocket that can hold a few bills or business cards. However, you can't open or close the flap while the headphones are plugged in--an annoying design issue. Plus, the Leather can't turn into a kickstand, so it's less practical than it is stylish."

CNet reviews three Zune cases by DLO: Leather Case (Pictured), Action Jacket, and Jam Jacket.

Tags: case, review, cnet, dlo

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Daily Gadget Month Long Zune Review

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 07:17 AM


"Ok, it’s been over a month now and I feel I have enough experience with my Zune to really give a good review on it. I've made it known that I have long felt the Zune has been getting a bum rap in general and that most of that reputation seems to be coming from people who have little to no experience with the device... However, I looked at this as objectively as I could and can see there are many strengths and weaknesses to the device."

Still trying to decide if Zune is right for you? After a month of use, Daily Gadget offers up a lengthy Zune review, pointing out both the strong and weak points of the total Zune experience. The review is broken into four parts found here: Packaging and Contents / Software and Marketplace / Hardware / User Experience.

Edit: I got my articles crossed, and mistakenly credited Gear Diary with this review, when in fact it is Daily Gadget. Sorry for the miss-information!

Tags: review

Monday, February 5, 2007

Gear Diary Reviews the Altec Lansing M604

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Accessories" @ 09:45 AM


"One of the first things I realized after getting my Zune was that although listening to it through a premium set of earphones was nice, there were going to be plenty of times when I wouldn’t want to hear my music that way. Times when I would want to hear it playing over a better sounding system than the craptastic speakers on my laptop. Figuring out how I was going to accomplish this became my goal, because the fact of the matter is that there is a certain other digital music player that currently enjoys most of the after-market accessory love from all of the premium music dock companies. That’s why I was very interested when I saw the announcement that Altec Lansing - one of those premier music dock companies - would be producing a M604 Powered Audio System specifically for the Microsoft Zune."

Gear Diary's Judie Hughes has just reviewed the Altec Lansing M604 Powered Audio System for the Zune. At $199.95 (or slightly lower, if you shop around), you can expect great sound and great looks, so if money is no object, you may want to consider one of these beasts as an accessory.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PC World Tests and Compares Leading Portable Media Players

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 09:44 AM


"With video features, new ways to connect to music services, and more, the latest audio players do a lot more than just play MP3s. Our lab tests of 21 models reveal today's best buys... We point out differences in features and performance to help you weigh which is the right player for you."

PCWorld offers up a fairly extensive comparison, including audio quality tests, for many of today's leading digital media players. They group the players into three categories: flash, hard-drive, and large-screen video players. This is one of the more extensive comparisons I've seen, even if they do have some items just plain wrong. (Apparently you can't connect Zune via USB.) :) According to PC World's audio tests, Zune does slightly nudge out iPod in audio quality, receiving a "superior" ranking. Zune's lowest mark was in the features category, receiving only a "fair" mark, bringing Zune in at fifth overall behind the 30 GB iPod, Zen VisionM, Gigabeat S30, and 80 GB iPod, respectively. I do take issue with their statement that none of the other players can match the elegance of iPods user interface. On the contrary, having used iPods for some time, and now using a Zune, I think Zune's interface is much more elegant than iPod's.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Zune: Three Months Later

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 09:30 AM


""After the iPod came out on top in our Zune v. iPod battle royale, we decided to keep on using the Zune so we could get a long term evaluation on how Microsoft's player stacked up. After nearly three months with the thing, we think we've got some new light to shed."

Gizmodo decided to keep a Zune around for a while, to give it an extended test drive, and see how the Zune experience truly stacks up. Now, three months later, they are back with some additional thoughts. I love how they compare Zune subscription service to "walking in your underwear at your in-laws' house and letting one rip." Yeah, it's that liberating! Gizmodo has nice things to say about song and video playback, as well as battery life, even going as far to say the Zune actually holds a charge longer when not in use. (There seems to have been a lot of negative publicity regarding Zune's battery life. Though I've not ran any hard tests, I've been happy with my battery life. It seems to be about the same as my video iPod.)

Tags: review, gizmodo

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gear Diary Reviews the Vaja Balance Case for Zune

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Accessories" @ 06:00 PM


"I am trying to remember the last time that I reviewed a Vaja case and ended up less than pleased. …still trying. After all, it would add so much to my coolness factor if I didn’t get excited every time they sent me a new case to try - if I could remain aloof, if I didn’t stick my nose against the received item trying to catch a whiff like some kind of leather junkie. But I do. If it was just a matter of how the leather smells, then I might be able to restrain myself…but no. Vaja also makes some of the most form-fitting, beautifully designed, long-lasting, and stylish cases on the planet. I’m just stating a fact here; Vaja is to cases, as Ferrari is to cars. With that in mind, Vaja’s prices might make them seem like an over the top extravagance to the casual observer. So I guess the question that must be asked is do you use a particular item enough to justify putting it in such a fine case?"

Judie tends to gush a little over the Zune Vaja case, but that's to be expected a little I think. Historically, Vaja's cases have been top-notch, and judging from Judie's review, I'd say this Zune case is no different. So if you're interested in protecting that lovely Zune, give the review a read.

Tags: case, review, vaja

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Sponsored links