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All posts tagged "review"

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Ozymandias Takes a Look at Zune

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 05:00 PM


"Overall, I really like it, but it has some rough edges that I hope we will get polished up. On the positive side, the player itself is pretty slick. The screen is large, bright, and quite frankly, gorgeous. UI is simple and easy to use, and the included FM tuner is a nice bonus. It feels a tich bigger than the same 30 GB iPod, but I like the feel a bit better - the case is made of that textured plastic you sometimes find on high-end home theater remote controls. Nice "grippability", to make up a term."

Ozymandias, otherwise known as Andre Vrignaud, purchased a Zune as a Christmas present, and weighs in with his thoughts and opinions. Andre is an employee of Microsoft, working with their gaming platforms. In a nutshell, Andre loves the hardware, and actually likes the software, although he had issues getting it working initially, plus the unpleasant experience of Zune initially attempting to sync his entire (and rather large) music library.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Roxio Labs Looks at Zune

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 04:30 PM


"The device itself is zippy, easy to use, and very addicting... One glaring omission in the Zune feature-set: The Zune has built-in wireless to share songs with other Zune devices, but can't wirelessly connect to PCs or XBox 360s... All the same, I respectfully disagree with engadget's assessment that the wireless is worthless. I think the person-to-person sharing experience is one that hands-down beats downloading from a corporate Internet site. Most people hear about albums from their friends anyway. It's a communal thing."

Roxio Labs (as in Easy CD / DVD / Media Creator) chimes in with their Zune opinion. Overall they find the device quite impressive, and while admitting the wireless features can be greatly expanded, they actually quite appreciate the Zune-to-Zune sharing.

Tags: review, roxio

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Are You Ready To Rumble?

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 08:33 AM


CNET TV pits Zune head to head against iPod in this heavyweight championship prizefight. You can see it here: Part1 and Part2. And the winner is? iPod, by a slim margin. No surprises there, it is a close fight. These videos do a nice job of comparing the two devices and each unit's strengths and weaknesses.

Tags: ipod, review, cnet

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mobile Tech Review Looks at Zune

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 03:30 PM


"We didn't expect to be at all impressed by Microsoft's first effort at an iPod competitor. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised! The device is well made (OK, that we expected), is packaged very austerely and attractively (shocker) and is superbly easy to use (pick us up off the floor). It's fun to use, easy to use and sounds great... Overall, an excellent first attempt at jumping into a mature market."

Here's a pro-Zune review from Mobile Tech Review, although in the end they do give the iPod a slight edge mostly due to size and wider variety (video, podcast) of content currently available though iTunes. I found their initial reactions to Zune (quoted above) quite humorous. What I found most interesting (but not surprising in the least) was the reviewer's account of their purchasing experience. The electronics associate, after finally understanding that the reviewer was looking for a Zune, kindly explained why the Zune is a poor purchase because they learned that it doesn't allow you to play your own music, including CDs you rip yourself. After the reviewer correct the associate, the reaction was that they still didn’t' like it because they hated Microsoft. Takes me back to when I purchased my video iPod at Walmart, and was told I was making a mistake because iPods won't play MP3s.

Tags: review

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Review With a View

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 04:59 AM


"Microsoft enters the portable media player market with their Zune Player. The Zune Player is a portable video and MP3 player that also lets you share your media with other people with Zune players, adding a social twist. The Zune player comes in black, brown or white colors, has a 3 inch LCD screen with a 320x240 resolution. It can playback MP3s, WMA, AAC audio files, JPEG image files, but it can only playback Windows Media video files."

Tired of the same old written reviews? Then check out this video review from Digital Trends. Be warned: This is a fairly shallow review that just doesn't dive very deep into the usage or performance of the Zune.

Tags: review

Wired News Praise for Zune

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 02:00 AM


"It's not perfect, but the Zune is a well-designed and well-made alternative to the iPod... I even like the brown color. Don't laugh, it actually looks pretty cool... I've been playing with a Zune for a couple of weeks, and I like it. I like it a lot."

Wired News offers a pretty up-beat Zune review which got me thinking. One of the highlights in almost every Zune review I've read has been the interface. I've seen an almost consensus that the Zune interface is simple, yet sleek, fast, and good looking; a nice improvement over the iPod. It's ironic that user interfaces has been one area that Microsoft historically get trashed. For most, the Zune interface seems to be a welcome change from a Microsoft team. Maybe this is evidence of the freedom the Zune team has been given. Just like the Xbox 360, the interface is definitely a strong point for Zune.

Tags: review, interface

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Playlist: Bidding a Not-So-Fond Farewell to the Zune

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 PM


"I’ve had the Zune for a little over a week and in that time have offered my views on the hardware, software and syncing, and Zune Marketplace. With this final entry in the Zune Diary I’d like to fill in a few missing gaps and offer some final thoughts."

Christopher Breen at Playlist offers up his Zune Diary for our perusal. You can find his final thoughts at the above link, along with links to the other sections of his review. This is a so-so review, which brings up some of the well documented issues with the Zune, but mostly reads as someone who was trying his best not to give Zune any credit, even where it is due.

Tags: review

Monday, December 11, 2006

Zune Bringing Back the iPod Magic of Old

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 09:00 AM


"So there you go. I know it's different than what the majority of folk out there are saying about the Zune, but I really feel as if I've found something that brings back that initial iPod magic I felt all those years ago. The body and design just feels so good and purposeful in my hand, and the audio rocks something fierce. I probably won't ever use the "WiFi" features of the Zune, but I didn't really buy it for that in the first place. I was looking for a great sounding iPod alternative that was easy to use and I found one."

A self-proclaimed iPod fan and audio junkie over on the Head-Fi forums, after being somewhat disillusioned by his iPod of late, decided to give the Zune a try. After plugging into a Zune at a local retailer, he was intrigued, and decided to take one home and run it through its paces. He finds the Zune to be quite a nice device, with great hardware, an excellent interface, and superior audio and video performance. His biggest issue is the with the companion software, which he found to be quite a beast but useable after some taming. This is a nice review that does a great job in pointing out the benefits Zune has to offer. I'm not an audiophile by any means and cannot speak to the differences between the audio performance of my iPod compared to my Zune, so I was intrigued by this user's account of how well the Zune performs. This is also the only other reviewer I’ve seen spend almost as much time on the packaging as Jason! :)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Zune a Better Fit for Some

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 11:00 PM


"I have been checking out the Zune and the iPod with video in direct comparison and have to say I prefer the Zune for my usage. Keep in mind a few things that help make the Zune more attractive for me that may not be applicable to others."

ZDNet's Matthew Miller has been using a Zune for the past three weeks. What has he learned in those three weeks? Zune may not have lived up to all the pre-release hype, but you know what, it's not a bad device at all. And for some people, including Miller, the Zune is a better fit than the iPod. Some of Miller's reasoning’s for giving the nod to Zune include the larger screen for more enjoyable video viewing and the subscription service to supplement his meager music collection. Check out his article for more thoughts on his Zune experience. Personally, owning both a video iPod and Zune, the Zune is a better device for me and my uses. I still have need of a smaller, flash based device, so my Nano will still compliment my Zune for now. The only feature currently missing for me is built-in podcast support. How about you? Does the Zune meet your portable media player needs, or are some improvements needed before you take the plunge?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Fox News: Keep Your Eye On It

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 PM


"In one fell swoop, Microsoft is now expected to somehow de-throne the iPod. It has to offer all the iPod's features and more, at the same or lower price. It needs to look better, work better, offer better content, shine your shoes, walk your dog, and prepare your taxes. Anything else is an abject failure. Or is it?"

This is a nice, fairly in-depth Zune review from Jason Cross at Fox News. Jason does a nice of job of ignoring the anti-Zune hype and taking an unbiased look at the Zune. He points out a lot of positives of the play but doesn't shy away from areas where Zune is lacking. Overall he gives the Zune a 7 of 10 and concludes that the Zune may not be the right player to own just yet, its worth keeping an eye on. Jason feels that with a few updates, Zune an be a serious contender.

Tags: review, foxnews

Zune: Worst Out-of-Box Experience Ever?

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


"I don't hate the Zune player. In fact, I rather like its design, feel, and weight. I'm not crazy about the control buttons, but I can live with them. I do, however, hate the Zune software. It's shocking that Microsoft didn't simply integrate the Zune's rights management directly into Windows Media Player -- doing so may have eased many of the synching problems. Even with all of iTunes' well-documented software quirks, compared to the Zune it's the Holy Grail of music software. Microsoft is forcing hipness with the Zune, and people don't like that. It's like your Dad wearing urban gear and listening to underground hip-hop. Sure, it might technically be considered cool, but it makes you want to crack open an Emily Bronte novel with a concerto in the background."

I wholeheartedly concur with Mr. Marbles that it was just plain stupid to create a seperate piece of Zune software that's essentially the same thing almost all of us already have on our PCs. The Zune not appearing as a drive that you can manually manipulate is also a big minus in my book. That being said, workarounds exist, and while it may not do it out of the box, I might venture that most of us that desire manual control over our player can use these workarounds easily. The average person (who may have never owned a PMP) would probably rather have their music synced. Of course, I image they'd love to load all the PFS music they've already purchased, but we can't have everything, eh? In all, it's a fair review, just by someone with higher expectations and less patience than myself.

Tags: software, review

Monday, December 4, 2006

Playlist: "Zune Diary"

Posted by Michael Boutros in "Zune Talk" @ 06:00 PM


"Looked at purely as a hardware device that plays music, slideshows, and videos, the Zune is a mixed bag. Its larger-than-the-iPod’s display is nice and bright. I like some of the eye-candy of the interface and while it’s no iPod, it’s easy enough to get around on. I’m pleased that you can zoom in on images and designate any image as a background pattern. And having a decent FM radio built-in is a plus. I find the Zune too big and too unattractive. But, again, I’m not part of the target demographic for the player. Younger users may find its size and look perfectly acceptable."

Christopher Breen from Playlist has taken a look at the Zune from several angles and written up a review. While I agree with some of what he has to say, I think he's a bit too harsh on the Zune. For example, he said that the Zune does not comfortably fit in your pocket, whereas lots of other people have said it's perfectly comfortable and you will forget that you put it in your pocket. To each his own I guess.

Do you think he's a bit harsh?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Good Reviews...

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 08:17 AM


"Frankly, many of the initial reviews seem almost rushed, as if no more than a day was spent with the device before coming to a grand conclusion. Certainly they didn't answer many of my questions. So this Zune review is going to be a little different. I'm going to go point by point, marking down the things I have found and learned in my days of Zune usage."

This ExtremeTech review is one of the more well-rounded reviews I've read about the Zune. Unlike some other reviews, it is obvious that this reviewer spend some quality time immersed in the total Zune experience, both hardware and software. They do a nice job of pointing out where Zune hits the mark, and where it falls short. If you want to read one of the better Zune reviews out there (while we wait on the completion of Jason's), and get a good idea of both positives and negatives of the first generation Zune, then I highly recommend this review.

Tags: review

... And The Bad Reviews

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 08:15 AM


"Yes, Microsoft's new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful. I've spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face... The Zune is a complete, humiliating failure."

Wow. There are negative reviews, and then there are reviews where the writer seems pre-determined to hate the product prior to even touching it. This review from the Chicago Sun-Times falls into the latter category. This is just a terrible review, in my opinion. Other than a claim of using Zune for a week and a brief mention of a software installation problem, you couldn't guess from the article that the reviewer has had any hands-on time with Zune. The hardware isn't even talked about. This "review" is basically a summary of negative points previously mentioned about the Zune, plus a few cracks at Microsoft and Windows. If you have a few spare minutes, with absolutely nothing else to do, please check out the review. Does anyone actually give any weight to this type of review?

Tags: review

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Zune's Tune is Sweet

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 03:00 AM


"Today’s tune is Zune, and it’s being written none too soon. It was nearly two weeks ago when Microsoft Corp.’s new music, movie and photo player named Zune fulfilled widespread predictions that it was going to debut with a thud. Let me say first that my take on this milestone event in Windows history comes amid a bit of heat. I guess I’ve been persona non grata at the Zune side of Microsoft for the past few weeks after I questioned the ethics of the company’s effort to immolate iPod by creating in Zune a virtual carbon copy of both Apple’s world-beater music player and the exclusive online store where iPod owners shop for new music."

For every negative review, there's a positive review. And here's one of the positive ones. The Zune may not be an iPod killer yet, but it's definitely not out of the race either. Check out what Chicago Tribune had to say.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Engineer's Take on Zune Hardware

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Hardware" @ 11:00 AM


"...I sat down with a key member of my product review team (my wife) to compare it against my (also white) 30 GByte iPod with Video. Contrasting Zune and the iPod from my engineering mindset, supplemented by my spouse's consumer slant, has been an interesting experience. As usual, there are no absolute winners and losers here; just reasonable cost, feature and form factor trade-offs..."

This is a very interesting and well thought out review from Brian Dipert, who eyes the Zune hardware from an engineering perspective. The review is very balanced and does a nice job of comparing Zune to the closest iPod model, the 30GB iPod Video. (Unlike those who insist on comparing Zune to the shuffle or Nano.) As Brian points out, there is no clear-cut winner; both units having advantages and disadvantages. Brian does a nice job of voicing some my same opinions concerning the hardware. Yes the Zune is larger than the iPod, but it's hardly as gigantic as much of the media would have you believe. Yes, the Zune specs plainly state that it weighs slightly more, but it honestly feels lighter than the 30GB iPod Video, which I too own. In addition to his nice review of the Zune hardware, Brian also touches on some of Zune's potential, the DRM debate, and the controversial pay-per-player agreement with Universal. This review, which comes in three parts, is well worth the read:

Welcome To The Social
A Sufficient Hardware Foundation For Future Firmware Perfection?
DRMs and CLMs

Tags: hardware, review

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Xboxic Reviews the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Hardware" @ 12:00 PM


"The Microsoft Zune is a neat little player. It’s got great audio quality and a few great features that its competitors don’t have. While its Marketplace software offers great content, it’s also riddled with a few big bugs that will hopefully be ironed out soon. It’s definitely got some promise as a player and if anyone is looking for a subscription plan that’ll work with the Xbox 360, the Zune is definitely the way to go. Though it’s only a first-generation digital audio player, the Zune has some fight in it and with future firmware updates, it could definitely rival other digital audio players. Anyone looking for a different digital audio player experience and an open mind should definitely give the Zune a try."

another (unfortunately, picture-deficient) review of the Zune, courtesy of the folks at Xboxic. They were pretty impressed with it, though, much like the rest of the crowd, would like to see some of the software bugs nuked. Oh, and maybe the Zune's gung-ho attitude in importing every media file on your computer.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wired Talks About the Zune (Round 2)

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 02:30 AM


"I dragged a key across the Zune's screen, -- pressing pretty hard -- and it didn't leave a scratch. Same goes for other surfaces of the device. Apple should start buying their screen plastic from wherever Microsoft got these."

Oh, man. Don't do that at home, please. Microsoft gets a star for releasing a hardy Zune on its first go - a stark contrast to most of Apple's devices, which have failed the scratch test in recent times (and most have been up against cloths, not keys). If you're interested in learning more about what Wired had to say about the Zune, read Part 2 of their article. Part 1 is here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

XBL Radio's Zune Impressions

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 04:00 PM


"Overall I am pretty happy that I bought one, it a pretty cool device. Now would I recommend you guys to buy one? That all depends on your situation, do you need a mp3 player? Do you already have one? And what features are you looking for?"

One would think you might be hard-pressed to find a fair Zune review from a "NetCaster" (yes, I'm shying away from the "p" word), considering Zune's lack of NetCast support. Fortunately, Steve with XBL Radio delivers just that. Steve, who has owned a number of iPods, gives a nice first impression of his Zune inexperience. He does a nice job of pointing out both the strengths and weakness of the Zune, and weighs in on the Zune vs. iPod debate. Check out Steve's blog to see this NetCaster's thoughts on the Zune.

IGN Reviews the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 12:00 PM


"Rather than shining polycarbonate plastic and chrome, Zunes are encased in very pleasant feeling hard-rubberized plastic. The inside of the case is painted a different color than the external surface, which gives the edges of the player a two-toned glowing look that Microsoft is calling the "doubleshot effect." To our eyes and fingertips, the finish may well be the nicest of any mp3 player yet, dramatically less prone to scratching and smudging than the iPod's snobbish aluminum, and quite a bit more pleasant to hold in hand. After days of use we can't see a scratch on our (unprotected!) Zune, as opposed to our 5.5G iPod that got scratched during the unboxing photos."

IGN has published a reasonably balanced review of the Zune - quite a few ups and downs are highlighted, and some decent shots are included. They threw a few 8s and 9s out of 10, so overall, they were pretty happy with the hardware. Give it a read.

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