Some deadly school projects have prevented me from dedicating as much time as I would have liked to writing a review of the Zune 8GB; however, I have been using the device a lot and showing it to people. It really hasn’t been hard to find people curious about the player. It’s a bit of a paradox; the reason it seems to be such a point of interest is because it’s not popular in Canada.
But perhaps most surprising is that the majority of people I’ve shown it to have come away genuinely impressed. Furthermore, one friend remarked in particular that he was astonished how much better it was than he’d expected. Based on his experience, he couldn’t believe how much negative press the Zune had gotten. Granted, he attributed most of that negative sentiment to the somewhat dismal first generation Zune.
The overall response to the 8GB Zune has been extremely positive. Traditionally Apple’s area of expertise, the gorgeous user interface has been one of the most remarked features of the Zune. One iPhone user wished Microsoft would design a Windows Mobile OS based on the Zune interface. The positive comparisons to the ubiquitous iPod UI were common. Some simple features like being able to access other works of the currently playing artist was lauded – something not easily accessible with the iPod’s interface. Additionally being able to scroll left and right through artists or albums when within that hierarchy was also something that caught many peoples’ attention.
Also important was that the use of the physical controls was extremely easy to grasp. Some had already read about the ‘Squircle’, and navigated the menu system without missing a beat. A few others tried circular scrolling without much luck. However a simple tip got them on the right track and within seconds, the controls were mastered. For only a second generation player, the controls are surprisingly intuitive and easily rival the iPod’s click wheel. Now all we need is a touchscreen Zune. 🙂
Some of the other features also struck home, especially wireless syncing (I’ll certainly have to investigate that functionality a bit more) and the radio. A bit surprising to me was that the ‘social’ aspect of the device, namely integration with the Zune online social community and wireless sharing of songs also impressed some. I guess I’m still stuck on the chicken or egg question – without users, ‘The Social’ isn’t much.
But perhaps that social is about to grow a lot larger. Over the week or so I’ve been showing it off, I’ve already planted the Zune atop a few peoples’ MP3 player list. With the positive responses I’ve received, I feel as though Microsoft’s missing out on a lot of sales simply because there isn’t much mass marketing for the device. I’m certainly impressed with the Zune, albeit I’m not without some reservations, but you’ll have to wait for the full review for those details.