A Look Into Zune...
Go on, how many of you recognise the device on the left and how many recognise the device on the right?
So, Microsoft had these Zune devices in the US, but they never made it into the UK. I never owned one of these Zune iPod-like devices, the iPod Touch-esque one being the Zune HD. But as everyone knows, I do have a Windows Phone, which has a Zune built in, a la iPod for iPhone. So, 5 months into owning the device, I am going to look through it's music features.
Now first of all, it has to be said that Zune does not have the marketplace of iTunes. Indie artists will happily submit to iTunes but if like me you're a Zune user, touch luck. Of course, this is due to the way Apple managed to market the iPod as the ultimate MP3 device, smashing the likes of Sony who arguable had better music players. Everybody knows iPod/iPhone/iTunes, most people do NOT know Zune (or even Windows Phone for that matter, although Nokia are fast changing that!), and therefore the money for indie artists is with iTunes. Now, with that negative out of the way...
When you use the Zune desktop software you're treated to a glorious Metro user interface that just screams to be touched, in fact, you may recognise the user interface from the Xbox 360 already, especially if you have a Kinect, or from your phone, if you're one of the 0.5% of the smartphone population with a Windows Phone (note, the percentage may not be accurate), or you may have seen it on the Windows 8 Developer/Consumer preview, if that interests you. Indeed, it is part of the interface that will be standard for Windows products, and I find very intuitive. In terms of music quality, well, I find it the same as any other media player, which is generally quite good. The Music Pass is a great addition for the Zune, but more on that later as the benefits are truly felt on the mobile side of the Zune. Just remember, if you use a Zune device (including Windows Phone), then this will be the software that you use to manage your device.
Of course, when we step away from Zune desktop and onto the mobile version... Well, this is a big one, as your whole consumerate wishes are granted by Zune. You want to listen to music or watch a video? Zune's media will take control. You want to use Facebook as an application? You need to use Zune Marketplace to install the app. While the Zune Marketplace is slim pickings as far as apps are concerned, the apps are generally of good quality and are mostly designed to take advantage of the Metro user interface. Lots of flicking, lots of quirky animations, lots of swiping. Of course, what is a media based brand without a media player on all the devices powered by it?
Well, it has to be said, companies like HTC are allowed to get involved with the camera and sound, and indeed HTC have with their "Camera Modes" and "Sound Enhancer", which believe it or not I don't use the latter, and infrequently use the former! But the music player on the Windows Phone is solid, has all the basic functions. It is worth noting though, that to "scrub" through a track, you tap and hold the Previous Track or Next Track button, which you shouldn't miss. All rudimentary functionality is present, nothing much else to say really about that. However, your music experience can really be enhanced by the Zune Music Pass. Now this media pass, costing £8.99 a month, or £89.90 a year, grants you unlimited music streaming and downloads (which are provided in WMA format, and are DRM protected, with a bitrate of 192kbps). Not bad value if you ask me. They are linked to your Windows Live ID from what I can tell, yet they work in Windows Media Player, which I haven't linked to Windows Live, yet try and load them onto my HTC tablet, and they will not play ball. Maybe Android can't handle WMA files?
All in all, I find the Zune ecosystem to be very powerful and full of potential. The interface is a dream to use, and is really worth considering.
Ive subscribed to the zune pass a few weeks ago. I like it. Its a fairly good replacement to Napster and the ability to download .wma files is the winner for me. The price is more competitive than Napster.
As slick and as as the interface is, I still find it fairly clumsy and clunky to search say a weeks worth of charts. But theres no denying that on a 23" touch screen it looks fantastic.
Posted by Tim on May 13, 2012 at 08:37 UK.
I have had a Lumia 800 since x-mas and i like all the things to do with zune.Incredible value,stops me ending the week too skint and my love of music can reach it's full potential.I went for it mainly due to the amount of sheep who all own i-phone's and i'm glad i did.
Posted by Grant Liddell on Jun 07, 2012 at 20:03 UK.