My Zune love hate relationship, part 1

Believe it or not, I moved from a Creative Muvo TX FM 256 Meg to a Microsoft Zune 8gb player only in…. 2008! No iPods, no Creative Zens or Sensa players in between. The jump was relatively brutal, and definitely good.

Before I go to my evaluation of the Zune, let me just state how I was using my MP3 player. I would use my Muvo to listen mostly to podcasts. The Muvo was great in this department, particularly because it could play only one track at a time, and not go to the next song. Fast forwarding was exponential (slow at first, then would get faster), and the Muvo would retain my position if I turned it off. Finally, batteries were easy to swap out (so I always had a spare AAA battery) and the player was really small.

Last year, my friend convinced me to get a Zune. One feature that really pushed me to get one was the wireless syncing. I thought that, with my podcasts, it would be a feature I would always use, since new podcasts were released every day.

So what’s the verdict? I can’t live without my Zune, but I certainly wouldn’t mind a Zune player that really got the job done. Here is a list of things I really hate about the Zune, some of which are not necessarily the Zune’s fault, but are certainly annoying.

Constant crashes

I think there are few things I hate more than my Zune crashing (more than that, there would be Vista crashing and my car crashing). I’m not sure if iPods crash as often, but it sure is annoying. At the very least, maybe Microsoft should regularly save what you were listening to so that upon resuming, the player would start back at the same spot. Even would be not to crash, but that might asking for too much.

Losing my Zune player/Zune desktop connection

This happened to me too many times (at least twice). I connect my Zune to my computer and the Zune software thinks it’s a new player it has never seen. I then have to waste tons of time resynchronizing my player and reconfiguring all my podcasts settings (how many to keep in my player, etc.). Part of this seems to come from the fact that the Zune (like an iPod) is a one way street, where data goes in but never seems to really come out.

The Zune cable

This was the thing I dreaded the most. With my Muvo, I could connect my player to any computer without the need for a cable. It was very convenient. With the Zune, you need a cable. Now granted, all MP3 players of this type require a cable, so the problem isn’t just with the Zune. But here was the second problem. The Zune cable is proprietary. Which means it’s worth as much as my Zune if I lose it. No cable? No Zune. I’m not sure why, but Microsoft should have found a way to use the same connector as the iPod, which would have given me access to dozens of peripherals and more competitive pricing. Microsoft has always made compatibility a priority, I am not sure why they didn’t embrace the iPod connector, even with the potential lawsuit attached to it.

Stay tuned for part 2…


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