Paging Zuners

If that’s what you’re called.
I got this today:

Here’s a question: what do you think of Zune?

I’m going to make a few assumptions (and do please, correct me if I’m wrong); if you’re a Zune user – aka ‘a Zuner’ – you’re probably American and you may’ve even bought, and perhaps even still use, the original Zune machine handheld thing that was never launched over here in the UK.

However, you may also be a Windows Phone (WP) user and/or an Xbox owner. All of these things I expect to influence your response to this following, secondary question:

Is it actually any good?

Now please. Before you move forward with your answer (either in the comments field below or in fact perhaps, with your own blogged repost) please take into account that your opinion may bias towards the positive as you’ve made such a chunky investment (especially you original Zune hardware owners). So please, give full and valid responses – warts an’ all, if you will.

Why am I asking this question? Well, I am an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, soon-to-be Windows-Phoner and avid Spotify fan. The latter of the three costs £9.99pcm and allows me all sorts of awesome music-based fantasticness. Treats such as:

  • Access to an almost infinite amount of music
  • Downloadable content that I can play offline, both on my desktop and on my mobile
  • Sharable cross-platform playlists of awesomeness (that can be locked down or collaborative)
  • Thanks to the marvelous integration on both Spotify and Xbox Live, I can stream my most listened to tracks through my Xbox using the Last.fm application available through Live Gold
  • Bonus feature, said music can be controlled BY VOICE thanks to my Kinect

Understand that your answers will help inform my decision on whether or not to drop Spotify for Zune (when WP finally launches on Nokia’s devices). As it stands, I’m reliably informed that Spotify is coming to WP with the next software update (aka ‘Mango), but because I like things to just work – I’m tempted to move for the full Zune offering.

Friends, Zuners, fellow tech-heads and audiophiles – it’s over to you.

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20 thoughts on “Paging Zuners”

  1. I’ve never actually heard of this thing you call “Zune”, but from what you say, and what research I can find on the internets, it appears to be quite a revolutionary service. Nearly unlimited access to music? Trumpets! Streaming and downloadable? Kinect enabled? Trumpets again, I say!

    I’ve never heard of this amazing, extraordinary service, but it sounds like you should look into it more, chap. I vote “get it”!

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Haha! I knew *you* would be first to comment buddy 😉

    But – as I’ve said above – I’ve got all of those features with my current set up:

    – Spotify is an almost infinite supply of music both downloadable (on mobile and desktop) and available to stream. Plus, with the Last.fm integration, I have Kinect capabilities also.

    So far, I’m not seeing any real reasons to switch…

    [feel free to share around btw – interested to know what others might think]

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  2. You should reach out to Matt @ NokiaExperts.com – he’s a Zuner, and even has walkthroughs on how to use Zune with most of the latest Nokia devices (bonus for you!)

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Thanks for the tip Ricky.

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  3. All of my thoughts are based on me being a US user. So I may have access to features that you won’t.

    Not sure I can give you a great answer since we can’t use Spotify. Does Spotify let you keep some of the music you download each month? With the Zune Pass I pay $15.00 and can keep 10 songs a month for that price plus all of the streaming and downloading between my computer, my Zune, and my Windows Phone (I currently don’t have one of those).

    Drawbacks: It is Mac Windows only. Some artists aren’t available on the Zune service. Not sure how the catalogs compare in this regard.

    [Reply]

    whatleydude Reply:

    Great insight Kevin, thank you.

    So first off, Spotify doesn’t let you keep any of the music you download (you have to actually pay for the tracks if you want to do that – shocking, I know). Some artists not being available I can live with also (Spotify has similar limitation).

    The deal-breaker here is looking like the whole ‘windows only’ part.
    Damn Microsoft, way to alienate a whole market segment.

    Thanks again for the informative comments Kevin, it’s appreciated.

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  4. I switched to the Zune after having a Zen Vision:M. I loved the larger screen on the Zune and the better accessory market. I picked up a Zune 80 and I grew to adore the Zune software on the PC, the Zune Marketplace, and the fact that Microsoft Points and content (both music and videos) transfer from Zune to Xbox and back.

    With Windows Phone 7, I have another place where my music and videos from Zune Marketplace can call home. Zune Pass allows me to get just about any music anywhere. Smart DJ is coming to Windows Phone 7 with Mango and will help me find new music when I’m out and about.

    To answer your question “Is it any good?” I would say, yes it is. And I’m trying to be as unbiased as I can. I imagine if I had a Mac it wouldn’t be as good. But I honestly don’t have any complaints about the hardware, software, or service. I have one service for my PC, mobile devices, and Xbox for music and videos. I think that’s probably the top selling point for me. But it doesn’t hurt that I find the hardware to be solid (love my Zune HD) and I find the PC software to be easy to use and easy on the eyes.

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Alas, if only the hardware was available here in the UK. Even then, I’m still not sure I’d invest, given that my mobile device has been my main source of MP3s since the mid-noughties – I find it hard to justify carrying two pieces of [similar] hardware.

    A couple of things I do now know though, thanks to you Dan; Microsoft Xbox points are usable on Zune you say? That *is* interesting. I’ve purchased/downloaded/streamed videos over the Zune video service on the Xbox before but never made the connection. Nice one.

    The only issue I can see so far with this is me being a Mac user.
    Damn.

    [thanks Dan]

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  5. I have three Zunes – an 8 GB flash-based unit, an 80 GB hard drive unit and a 32 GB Zune HD. I am also a ZunePass subscriber and have been most of the time since I got the HD shortly after it was announced.

    The good:

    I originally bought the 8 GB Zune over an iPod because it had an FM radio in it. I bought the 80 GB one shortly afterwards because I have a huge classical music CD collection and wanted to carry it around with me. And I bought the HD mostly because of the ZunePass and the ability to fill it with downloaded music (jazz, which I *don’t’ have) and because I could use it to read and post to Twitter.

    The bad:

    Zunes never caught on. Microsoft’s attempts to build a “social network” around them were utter failures. I eventually got an Android phone – it has an FM radio in it but the quality is nowhere near what’s in the Zunes. Microsoft cancelled the Zune – pieces of it live on in WP7 and Xbox, but there’s no “Zune tablet” coming as far as I know. There are a lot of films I’d like to view on my HD – I don’t think they’re available. I doubt if it will ever have Netflix.

    Just off the top of my head, I’d say that the Nokia / Windows Phone 7 isn’t likely to have the same audio quality as the Zune does or an iPod does. The Zunes / ZunePass were the right choice when I chose them, but I think there are better ways to consume media today.

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Thanks for your honest review Ed, that’s exactly the kind of insight I’m looking for. Here’s hoping that, what with the Mango announcement a couple of weeks back and the Xbox updates announced yesterday, the Zune service gets an overhaul sometime soon.

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  6. I’ve never used Spotify, but it looks like iTunes (ugly). I’ve been very impressed with Zune. The designs of the desktop software and Zune HD UI are absolutely gorgeous. They both have great artwork that displays in a screensaver type fashion with artist photos and bio/statistic info. Everything else only ever shows an album cover (so boring). Then there’s the Smart DJ that automatically creates Pandora-like playlists, where you can easily “add to cart” or download new songs that you hear. The “Picks” feature that recommends music that you might like based on your existing taste in music. The related artists section is great for discovering new music, and the social section is very cool for sampling the musical taste of friends. It even recommends people for you to connect with based on musical tastes.
    Originally I was sceptical and only did the 14 day trial when I got a free Zune HD. I cancelled after the 14 days, but a few weeks later I decided the unlimited music, channels, mixtapes, streaming, etc., were totally worth it.

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Heh, I’m gutted for you non-Sotify users – it really is a great service. You’re right about it *looking* a tiny bit like iTunes, however the UI is much more intuitive (trust me – I *hate* iTunes). That aside, I like the sound of the Smart DJ aspect.

    One thing that keeps me going with Spotify is that playlists are social. Once created you simply right click and Spotify generates a unique URL for that playlist which you can share either on your blog or on Twitter. You also have the option of locking or unlocking these lists. The former making them uneditable, the latter meaning anyone can add to them. Social playlists FTW! If Zune – of if a future update of Zune – has that included, then I’d probably consider the jump even more.

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  7. I’ve had a Zune Pass for over 4 years and have never regretted it. Best thing I’ve ever subscribed to. I use it on my Zune 30, Zune HD, Windows Phone, PC, Xbox, and Zune.net. Get it!

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Hey Kevyn, when you say Zune.net do you mean the services are available through a browser window? ie: I can access them from any machine anywhere in the world, without software?

    Cheers,
    James

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  8. Im from sweden and have been using the zune for years, the zune pass is great, i mean its really great… Keeping me away from browsing excels for music like in spotify and the rest. Zune is a great service pakaged in the best way…

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Tommy, a non-US opinion! Yes! 😀

    Interesting that you choose Zune over Spotify, what do you mean by ‘keeping me away from browsing’? – I’m intrigued…

    Cheers,
    James

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  9. Re. Zune “Is it actually any good?”

    Yes. It’s good. Never had a problem streaming. Smart DJ is a big win. Graphically it’s pretty nice. Never discovered so much new music that I like in my life!

    Plus you get a good choice in movies, music videos etc.

    I don’t think you’d regret going Zune. Not sure if the 12 months for the price of 10 offer is still going but that would be the best value way to jump onboard.

    Yes, I invested in the hardware and have to jump through a few hoops sometimes to get every feature working that the US get but that’s what I chose to do and so is no hassle.

    My Windows Phone 7 in effect contains a Zune player too and that’s where the software really comes into its own in this country (UK).

    The choice of music appears to be growing quite rapidly these days and there are always Zune exclusives, interviews, tour footage, free tracks etc.

    You can download the software without buying the pass – why don’t you start with that and see how you get on?

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    whatleydude Reply:

    Now *that* is a great idea. When I get my first Windows Phone [which will no doubt be at the end of the year at some point], I’ll do just that.

    See how it stands up against Spotify in day-to-day usage.

    Good thinking Batman.

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