Five Reasons To Reconsider The Microsoft Zune

Oct 3rd, 2007 | By | Category: Digital Music, iPods & Portable Media Players

Second Generation Zunes

Microsoft has updated its line of Zune portable media players. While they are still no iPod-killers, they offer enough new features that it’s time to reconsider the Zune platform.

Here are five reasons to take a second look at the Zune:

  • The Zune’s WiFi features are starting to get useful. Zune devices can now automatically sync over your home wireless network. In a nutshell – Microsoft is delivering the wireless capabilities that portable media owners want, including the ability to sync up podcasts wirelessly. The Zune syncs wirelessly with your local computer, so that you can use it as part of a home music system, without hooking it to your computer, and still have current content to take with you. You can also share songs, pictures and podcasts wirelessly. The Zunes will be able to do some things that Apple’s $400 iPhones and iPod touches can’t do.
  • The Zune has podcast support. One of the big downsides to the Zune platform has been its lack of podcast support. That’s changing with the second generation of the Zune platform. While the Zune’s directory of podcasts is limited to about 1,000 podcasts, about 1/100th of the number in Apple’s iTunes podcast directory, it’s an important start and opens up the Zune to a world of free content.
  • The Zune lets you take TV with you. The Zune software can now automatically import broadcast content recorded on Microsoft Windows Media Center for Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate, so you can sync TV shows onto your Zune media player and watch them when you‚Äôre out and about.
  • New Zunes are compatible with old accessories. Apple is continually breaking compatibility with old accessories, to the point that some have speculated that it’s using this as a way of generating more income from Made for iPod accessories. The new Zunes are compatible with old accessories, and new Zune accessories will work with first-generation Zunes. While this approach may be a necessity for Microsoft, since there aren’t many accessories yet in the Zune ecosystem, it’s an approach that owners will appreciate.
  • Old Zunes get new features. Microsoft is also rolling out the new features to first generation Zune owners. Apple typically only delivers new features to its latest iPods. Yep – the Zune guy will finally get his reward for supporting the weak first generation Zune platform.

There are still a lot of reasons to stick with iPods, including a more mature platform, more advanced hardware, better podcast support, a larger library of music and more accessories, but Microsoft’s updates make the Zune worthy of reconsideration.

10 Responses to “Five Reasons To Reconsider The Microsoft Zune”

  1. […] Microsoft has updated its line of Zune portable media players. While they are still no iPod-killers, they offer enough new features that it‚Äôs time to reconsider the Zune platform.read more | digg story Filed under business productivity by Andrea Kalli Permalink • Print • Email • Comment […]

  2. […] Interesting take on Zune from the Podcasting Community Our buddy Paul at Zuneluv (a respected podcaster in his own right) points to an interesting article over at Podcasting News: “Five Reasons to Reconsider the Microsoft Zune.” Overall, they still seem to prefer iPods, but it’s nice to get a nod from a publication that I (and a lot of podcasters) respect.  |  Thursday, October 11, 2007 7:06 PM  |  0 Comments Tags: podcasting  […]

  3. […] Link Time! October 12, 2007 first edition of the Zune Community Netcast! article over at Podcasting News: “Five Reasons to Reconsider the Microsoft Zune.” Zune’s new UI: 12 observations Zune challenge: some shaved heads coming Use your Zune Pass on multiple PCs¬† I want a Pink Zune dot com‚Äôs first – and possibly last – video podcast link time, News | […]

  4. philbury says:

    As a newcomer to the mp3 player wars, and a PC user, I am puzzled by the assumption that Apple hold all the aces in the field. I’ve been comparing the latest offerings and find the new Zune range stack up pretty well against the iPods. The 4gb and 8gb Zunes are fractionally lighter than the iPods and automatic wi-fi sync (including content recorded in Media Center)is an exciting feature. I think Microsoft should be trumpetting this one a bit louder.

    For most PC users the ability to stick with Windows Media Player 11 is the key selling point in the Zune’s favour. I love the look of coverflow in iTunes but frankly the general functionality and versatility are not as good as WMP11.

  5. philbury says:

    I forgot to mention that the 80gb model is lighter than the iPod classic by 12 grams, is only 2 mm thicker and has a 3.2″ screen rather than a 2.5″. This is an achievement. Reviewers of the iPods have remarked that although the new software is eye-catching it is less snappy than before. Video dems of the Zune software seem to indicate that response times are pretty well instant.

  6. info says:

    Philbury

    It’s on oversimplification to focus on the hardware – but Apple’s hardware is cutting edge compared to the Zune’s.

    Apple’s been successful for many reasons – but the main reason is that it considers the entire user experience. When the original Zune was introduced, the hardware was criticized, the software was criticized, the online store was criticized, and Microsoft left out crucial capabilities, like podcasting. In order to really compete, Microsoft is going to have to bring all of these facets of the user experience not just up to comparable levels with the iPod, but beyond.

  7. philbury says:

    First, I wasn’t focussing simply on the hardware, I said I preferred WMP11 to iTunes and second how do you back up the statement that Apple’s hardware is cutting edge compared to the Zunes. We’re talking about the new ones here. Based on the published specs I would say there was very little between them. As I said the hardware of the 80gb model seems to have superior specs.

    I’ve noticed a blindness amongst Apple users. They simply assume that Apple products are better because they are undoubtedly style leaders. PC users are shocked by the way that Apple users accept being locked into the proprietory Apple ‘experience’. We’re used to opening up our PC’s and tweaking the hardware. Media Center is superior to anything Apple jhas to offer. The new iTouch products are absolutely great but clearly lacking in memory and connectivity simply so that an upgrade will become inevitable and Apple’s profits will be ensured. Contrast this for a moment with the fact that the new Zune software, which looks pretty good, will be available free to the poor souls who bought the first Zune clunker. See I’m open-minded!

  8. DanielEran says:

    You contrasted “New Zunes are compatible with old accessories” and “Old Zunes get new features” with Apple, suggesting that “Apple is continually breaking compatibility with old accessories” and “Apple typically only delivers new features to its latest iPods.”

    This is not really true. There are some accessories for the iPod that only work with certain models (like Nike+, which is only designed to with with the Nano – Apple would be sued if it recommended jogging with a HD-based player) and others that have become obsolete (like the camera connector), but every cable and dock designed for the iPod’s dock connector has remained compatible on purpose through years of new generations of iPods. The video cables changed recently to make one cable that works with every iPod + the iPhone.

    In contrast, the Zune doesn’t really have any accessories beyond cables, so your comparison is false and misleading, and seems disingenuous. You can like the Zune for its unique features, but stating something that isn’t really true as a feature is BS.

    Also, Apple has continuously released updates that have improved existing models, even when releasing new models. Apple’s new iPods leap over past generations quickly, so some updates might not be possible to run on older systems; however, at the release of the 2006 5.5G iPod (next to the first Zune last fall), Apple also issued an update that improved the 5G models from 2005 with most of the same features.

    In contrast, Microsoft purposely made the Zune incompatible with PlaysForSure, and has a history of breaking backward compatibility in its Windows Mobile products; WM 5 couldn’t work on any WM 4 phones and PDAs, for example.

    And to jump in with one last bit of reality: WiFi sync isn’t really a feature, it’s only a marketing bullet point. WiFi is much slower than USB (about 20 times slower in real world use) and drains the battery. You have to plug the Zune into power to sync “wirelessly.” What’s the point of plugging into power and not USB? USB supplies power. It is absolutely absurd to talk about WiFi sync as an exclusive feature of the Zune. It’s impractical marketing drivel.

  9. philbury says:

    Whilst I am enjoying this debate I can’t deal with being ‘quoted’ with things I never said regarding upgrades and accessories. Weird. None of this is academic; I am about to buy an mp3 player with my hard earned cash. On to the specific points:

    The wifi sync feature works automatically when you are plugged in to recharge. Also it will work manually unplugged (if you don’t need to recharge).
    The radio is a decent feature lacking in the iPods.
    I like the larger display of album art on the Zune.
    The wheel on the new nano is too small. Click and touch on the squircle (ewww) looks good.
    They could both do with dedicated volume controls.
    Zune 16gb option is good. I guess Apple will come out with that one later.

    After much head scratching and regret because iTunes does not work so well with my 350gb music collection, I’m going to get an 8gb nano! Why? simply because they support gapless playback and I listen to a lot of mix albums. I’m looking forward to a nice neat design but the criticisms of iPod stand and I think mindless fanboy thinking is sad.

  10. wyane says:

    I am very concern about the sound quality of Zune. After I have test the some Zune in many years ago, it makes me disapointed. The sounds is so hard without musical feeling… I will test the new Zune if possible. Wanted to know will it be imporved or not. lol