Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hello from Seattle

Hello from Seattle

That's the tag line on the back of my new Zune. Yes, I finally purchased a black Zune (with blue "double-shot" no less) yesterday.

Now, I've been reading a lot of reviews and blogs about the Zune, and I was beginning to get scared. According to these folks, the Zune is one device that can and will take down the free world.

Fearing the worst, I grabbed my pocket knife and cut the tape that secured the box sleeve. I slid the brown sleeve off revealing the inner box with that lame-ass slogan, "Welcome to the social."

I should take a moment here and explain my thoughts about the marketing campaign around the Zune. Apparently (actually, obviously) Microsoft is targeting the young uns. They are hoping that high school and college students hop up on the Zune Wagon and "squirt" their favorite songs to each other. All of the photos feature young, typically long-haired kids in torn jeans digging the hell out of their Zune.

This is not me. I'm a (almost) 40 year old computer dork whose musical taste leans more toward Dave Matthews than Ludacris. I also have a steady job, and so being able to afford a $250 music player wasn't as much of an issue for me as it would be for your typical student. And, I damn near hate the brown/pink/orange color scheme.

Okay, so I've removed the outer sleeve and have opened the lid on the inner box, revealing my new black Zune. Inside the plastic sleeve along with my Zune was a tiny, dead insect. I was curious if that was some kind rare Chinese bug that travel thousands of miles from the factory to my home. Everything seemed to be in order. I had a Zune, some earphones, and a sync cable. I opened the flap for the back part of the box and found the software CD, a product guide and a start guide. Also in the back compartment was the slip cover (which is barely big enough to fit the Zune with some stretching. At the pouch that came with my iPod was big enough to also hold the earphones), and my free 14 day Zune Pass. (Wasn't there supposed to be a window sticker in here?)

Brown/pink/orange colors aside, the Zune is very well packaged. It is an attractive box that Microsoft obviously put a lot of thought into. It's almost Apple-like.

I powered up the Zune to take a quick peek at the pre-loaded content. The battery was almost dead, according to the small, Vista-like battery meter in the lower right corner. I tinkered around with it a bit, but then decided to connect it to my PC to charge and sync it.

I've read all of the horror stories about how terrible the Zune software is, and that my computer would lock up and my pipes would freeze and my car would bread down. Surprisingly, none of that happened. The software installed just fine, and it found my music library and commenced with syncing it to my Zune. My library consists of about 5,000 songs, so the sync took a little while to complete. (I'm sorry, but I forgot to time it. Let's just say it took more than 15 minutes.)

The software also transferred a couple of videos it found on my laptop. One was a trailer for "Borat," one was an episode of "The Sopranos," the movie "Benchwarmers," and there were also a few Glenn Beck video podcasts (downloaded from iTunes). All transferred flawlessly, and once the sync was complete, my Zune was loaded up and ready to go.

I've had it for about 48 hours, and I've given it quite a work out. I've listened to several "albums" that I've not heard in years – it's amazing how seeing the album cover art makes you rediscover old favorites that you had forgotten about. I've also watched several videos, including the preloaded ones.

My son grabbed it and listed to FM radio for a while, and he seemed to really enjoy it.

I've since updated the background image to use a picture of Kauffman Stadium that I took on Opening Day 2004. Nothing like a baseball field to get you in the mood for spring.

So, what can I say? I've been an iPod/iTunes user for 3 years, and now I'm on board with the Zune. The Zune works great, has a beautiful screen, and sounds awesome. I can't say that Zune is better or worse than any other MP3/media player. They all have their strengths and weakness and they all have their fans and haters. I like my Zune. It does what I need and I'm anxious to see what Microsoft has in store for the WiFi capabilities.

Until then, hello from Seattle.

1 comment:

randomrant said...

Right On! The Zune is a wonderful piece of machinery. Some people dismiss it just because MS made it, which is oh so ignorant.